Sergio Ramos – The art of defending

In the dying minutes of normal time in the 2014 UEFA Champions league final, Real’s Modric whipped in a cross with Ramos rising high up to connect to head the ball firmly into the back of Atletico Madrid’s goal to take the game into extra time.   Although it was a cruel blow for their city rivals it was Real who eventually won the game 4-1 in extra time to claim La Decima.

Like many winners Sergio Ramos showed that dogged determination to keep persevering no matter how difficult or lost the situation appeared to be to snatch victory at the death.

There is a lot more to Ramos than simply showing heart and having to consistently be playing at his best to get through the game.  He is an accomplished defender with pace, awareness, organisation, and leadership.  Furthermore Ramos is comfortable at full back, centre half and even midfield when called upon.

Real Madrid might be obsessed with signing Galacticos as they certainly were in 2005 but the twenty-seven million euros that they paid Sevilla for Ramos who had come through the youth team was money well spent.  So much so that after Casillas left for Porto he was made Captain.

Starting at right back for Real Madrid and now as centre-half Ramos shows the tactical awareness and confidence required in your defenders.  Whether it’s defending the flanks and bursting forward as required of modern full backs or having the positional and physical presence of a centre half Ramos has shown that he can do the job.

Watching Ramos in any game and you can see that he does the simple things.  There are seldom any lapses of concentration with Ramos knowing where he should be.  Communication and leadership are other qualities as Ramos will order his teammates to either track or snuff out a potential attack.  As a result it is very seldom that someone will get the better of Ramos and it might also be this awareness that contributes to his scoring rate as a defender.  After all the 2014 Champions league final was not the first time or the last as Ramos recently grabbed Real a point at the Camp Nou to ensure that Madrid still held a six point advantage.

Being comfortable on the ball means that Ramos is always an option to his team mates to who they can pass to get out of trouble.  The technique and control on the ball certainly makes him one of the most accomplished defenders of his era.  He can carry the ball easily and rarely gives the ball away in dangerous areas.

Nobody is allowed to drop their standards with Ramos on the pitch or risk a severe bollocking.  At times during a match and certainly when things are going wrong players heads can go down.  This is where Ramos comes into his own as he shows the drive and leadership to install the belief that the game can be won.

It may not sound much but it can be the difference between inspiring others to step up to the plate or collapsing like a pack of cards.  With everyone digging in deep and refusing to give in are how points are won and in essence is what makes champions.

Defending like any other position is a specialised area.  It is not about making last-ditch tackles, hoofing balls to the better players, or heading away from set pieces.  Intelligence is required in terms of being able to read the play and anticipate where the danger is.  Awareness is another attribute especially of rival players who will exploit the slightest bit of space available.  Plus there is also the ability of organisation and communication that is vital to any settled defence.  Knowing where each other is on the pitch and to keep the line and shape of the team.

This is something that Ramos has in abundance.  With a defender like Ramos you can minimise the opposition’s space on the pitch and have the ability to break up their play.  Added to which Ramos is excellent on the ball.  When he receives the ball there is almost a nonchalant response as though the football is part of his body.  Again this talent can not only help you break up your opponents attack but put them on the back foot by setting up a counter-attack.

Of course the Achilles heel of Sergio Ramos is his disciplinary record.  He holds the undistinguished record of having been the most sent off player for Real Madrid having been dismissed from the pitch twenty-one times.  Admittedly some of them have been for rash challenges and second bookable offences that could easily be avoided. However there is a cynicism that secretly supporters want.  That is fouling players as a last resort to prevent the opposition from breaking forward and scoring.

It may be a little nudge or even a trip to knock a player off-balance but Ramos doesn’t deliberately go out to injure a fellow professional even if he is wearing a rival shirt.  Some may show open outrage at such gamesmanship but for some it is the ruthlessness of a winner who wants to win at all costs.

Back in November 2010 it was believed by sceptics that Ramos deliberately earned a second yellow card for time-wasting with Real already 4-0 up.  With the remaining game a dead rubber as Real Madrid had already qualified and Ramos a booking away from a suspension some believed Ramos had looked for the sending off in order to start with a clean slate in the next round.

With the recent Spanish national side one of the best and indeed one of the most successful it speaks for itself that Ramos is a regular for the national side.  He has seldom let the side down and has scored ten goals for Spain.

Sergio Ramos is a defender who every team would want in their side.  Not only can he play but there is that determination and ruthlessness of wanting to win.  These type of players are if the truth be told are not bothered if it is Garston park or the Bernabeu they want to win.  Furthermore they expect and will make it be known that they expect their team mates to step up to the plate when necessary.  No slacking or heads going down are tolerated.

Of course there is the added bonus that Ramos is one of the best defenders of his generation.  Something that Carlo Ancelotti declared as he declared “There are defenders with extraordinary technical quality, others have unique defensive qualities – like Cannavaro – who was brilliant at marking. Others, like Baresi, can command a back line while others influence with their strong personalities. But factoring everything together to evaluate a defender then Sergio Ramos is the most complete. He’s got a little bit of everything: technical quality, strength, personality and leadership.”

This is why the likes of Real Madrid are happy to spend big money on players like Ramos as they bring success and trophies.  He is also a defender that will bring stability and organisation that makes teammates and fans alike confident that the defence will not be breached.

Brian Benjamin






Author: Brian Benjamin

I love football and will watch any game. Writing is also a passion of mine and apart from writing about football I have also tried my hand at short stories in my spare time.

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