With the title on the line, Sergio Ramos still finds time to be a sh*thouse
Try to put yourself in Sergio Ramos’ shoes when Real Madrid were awarded a penalty with 15 minutes to go against Villarreal on Thursday evening.
Real were leading 1-0 thanks to Karim Benzema’s opener and needed all three points to secure their first La Liga title for three years. Ramos knew he was 12 yards away from making his club the champions of Spain.
He has scored five goals since football’s restart, three of which have come from the penalty spot. He was confident. He’s always confident.
Ramos has rotated penalty duties with Benzema in recent weeks, but it was only fitting the defender stepped up against Villarreal.
No other player epitomises the soap opera of Real Madrid’s serial winning better than Ramos. He has a list of embarrassments as big as his ego, yet he also has the trophy cabinet to ensure those mishaps merely add colour to an illustrious career.
And so, with the title on the line and the ball on the spot, Ramos stepped up and…did this.
Sergio Ramos lays his penalty off for Karim Benzema, but it's ruled out for encroachment! ❌
Benzema eventually took the penalty second time around, and drilled it into the bottom corner to surely clinch the title for Madrid 🏆
You don't see that too often! 👀 pic.twitter.com/f9TMw6slBB
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) July 16, 2020
There’s an argument that such a high-pressure moment is actually the perfect time to try something out of the ordinary.
In the dying seconds of England’s victory over Australia in the 2003 rugby union World Cup final, scrum-half Matt Dawson knew all eyes were on Jonny Wilkinson, waiting for his pass to attempt a match-winning drop-goal. Dawson instead dummied the ball as the defence charged towards Wilkinson, sneaking through a gap to steal valuable metres.
When he finally made the pass moments later, not only was Wilkinson taking aim from an easier distance, but the defence could not pressurise him as intensely due to the threat of Dawson surprising them again.
There’s also an argument that turning down the chance to shoot from a penalty to instead pass to a team-mate with the title on the line is absolutely fucking mental.
As so often with Ramos, he ended on the right side of victory to style it out. Benzema’s effort was ruled out for encroachment before the striker himself stepped up to convert the re-taken penalty, an apt scorer of the two title-winning goals as Real Madrid’s great survivor. Ramos’ risk was only emphasised, however, when Villarreal pulled a goal back minutes later.
Later that evening, angst-ridden Barcelona, having just lost their title, then lost their 30-match unbeaten home run in La Liga with a 2-1 defeat to 10-man Osasuna, who scored their winner in the 94th minute.
Afterwards, a visibly furious Lionel Messi said “things need to change” at the club, describing Barcelona as a “weak team”.
It’s the last thing Barcelona will want to hear right now, but perhaps they could learn a thing or two from Sergio Ramos’ attitude at such crucial stages of a campaign; a man so carefree in his role as football’s villain, he ends the day a hero.