Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Sergio Ramos, the lord of the areas

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”They can say that he is impulsive, that he has little tactical sense, that he is guilty of eight or ten goals conceded each season. Without him, Sergio Ramos, stars like Varane, Carvajal or Marcelo look like players from the subsidiary and Real Madrid becomes a defenseless team”.

The praise, complete with tarascada, appeared in the biography that his Juventus colleague Giorgio Chiellini recently published with a very Caesarist title, Io, Giorgio. In it he recognizes him as “the best central defender in the world”, although he also awards him not-so-kind virtues. “The thing with Salah was a master stroke,” concluded the Italian, referring to the action with the Sevillian in the 2018 Champions League final that sent the Liverpool striker to the infirmary.

That enormous ascendancy of the white captain that the bianconero speaks of —with some or all of the excesses aside— is what is defining this post-confinement Madrid, the only one that has won all four games, the one that has scored the most goals (10 ) and the least thrashed so far this year, 21, one below Simeone’s special forces. For a decade, it has been impossible to separate his name from any analysis of the team, but sometimes the trace becomes more evident.

He is the foreman of a defense safer from the lightness of other years (from 87-88 he did not fit so little, 20 then at this point in the championship) and so far in the restart he has scored three goals in the rival framework . One against Eibar crossing the entire field like a tank, another scoring his twentieth penalty in a row, and this Wednesday sharpening Mallorca’s crossbar in a strike at the level of the best free kick takers.Ramos has never been satisfied with his defensive obligations, as if that seemed like a minor task. He is three goals away from 100 since it premiered in 2004 at the Sánchez Pizjuán. His head has been his great fishing ground (54), so he reached the sky in Munich and the Moon in Lisbon; but, in addition, he has proved almost infallible in the treacherous roulette of penalties (after that European trigger against Bayern) and long ago he insisted on taming the ankle for direct free kicks.

Trials in Valdebebas

This Wednesday was the fourth conversion of his career (two with Sevilla and two with Madrid). The previous one happened in 2014 against Valladolid. With the whites he has made only 22 attempts in 15 seasons, especially since that cake was almost the entire one for Cristiano. Against Mallorca, however, he stood out alongside Bale and he kept it. In Valdebebas they always remember him rehearsing shots with a barrier at least twice a week. Now, with the Portuguese in the foothills of the Alps, all those that arise for a right-handed are his.

The goal against Eibar in the return to the competition, covering the entire field from area to area to receive Hazard’s assist-gift, showed his voracity. “He could be a striker, he is the opposite of me,” Chiellini wrote in his footballing will. In the club they are not so convinced of it. “It is in his blood, but he never got into practicing with the forwards. He is a full-fledged central defender who rises because he is aware of his powers, ”they value. Everything is due, they say, to his “planning and discipline”. They say that, when he pounds, he only eats unprocessed foods, that his fat percentage of 8% is better than at 25 years old (he is now 34), and that his current records of muscular power, balance and standing jumping strength are more better than years ago.

Stretch without Ronaldo

With that goal for the gunsmiths, he equaled Ronald Koeman as the highest-scoring defender in the history of LaLiga, in San Sebastián he surpassed him and against Mallorca he widened the gap (69). The promotion to first penalty taker with the march of CR helped him multiply the production. In his first decade at Madrid he twice reached seven goals, a more than estimable figure for a defender, but since 2016 he has only dropped below ten goals once. The eight this season in the domestic tournament are his best number in the 17 seasons in the First Division. Along with Robin Gosens (Atalanta), Phillipp Max (Augsburg) and Martin Hinteregger (Eintrach), he is among the highest scoring defenders of the course in the five major European home competitions.

Adventurer in the opposite area, author of the most celebrated white goal of the last quarter of a century, and closing in the defense itself whose goalkeeper has not won Zamora since 2007-08 with Casillas, his leadership is absolute and connects with tradition of the Pirri, Camacho and Fernando Hierro. In 2005, months after arriving at the Bernabéu, he proclaimed his desire to “one day be a captain.” That sounded like juvenile cheek, but the intentions were true.

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