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Domingo, 26 de Octubre de 2014

Sergio Ramos's contrasting fortunes with Madrid and Spain

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Alfredo Relaño | 19/02/2013

Sergio Ramos has now been sent off 16 times for Real Madrid, 12 times in league matches, twice in the Copa del Rey and twice in the Champions League. He holds the record for being sent off the most times in the history of Madrid, with three more sendings off than the previous record holder, Fernando Hierro.

Is this becoming a problem? Is he really that violent a player? I think if we are sincere, the answer is no. There is something in this process that has something to do with the loss, or something worse, of the prestige, weight and influence of Madrid in the offices of the Spanish Football Federation.

Comparisons are odious, but not always futile. Gregorio Benito, Madrid's notoriously aggressive centre-back between 1968 and 1982, was sent off three times in the league for Madrid and played a further five seasons for Madrid than Ramos has so far.

For anyone that can remember those two eras and watched those two players there is something extraordinary about that statistic. The contrast is still more remarkable if you think that Ramos has played 99 games for the Spanish national team without being sent off.

It's true that he has been given his marching orders twice in the Champions League, but one of these was an intentional red card, when he and Xabi Alonso were ordered by Mourinho to get themselves sent off against Ajax so they would have a clean slate for the knock out stages. The other sending off was against Olympiacos, when Ramos was given a straight red card when the game was about to finish.

Whichever way you look at it, we are faced with considerably high numbers in order to make conclusions from statistics. Sergio Ramos has been sent off many more times for Real Madrid than for Spain and he has been sent off far more often playing in Spain than when playing in Europe. But he has also been sent off several times by three referees in particular: three times by Iturralde, and twice by Paradas, Teixeira and Undiano, more than any other referee. This chimes with the worst suspicions of Madrid fans.

It is true that Sergio Ramos could be more careful, but there is something in this pattern that doesn't seem right to me.

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