Rahul Karvapalle of Global News and contributor to Marca (English) and Four Four Two is here to tell us that when he wants to be, Ramos is a colossus, as he was on Tuesday night against PSG.
Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday with a dominant 2-1 win over PSG at the Parc des Princes, in what was a solid performance built on the back of a defensive masterclass from Sergio Ramos.
Cristiano Ronaldo continued his ludicrous goal-scoring form while Casemiro caught the eye with an all-action performance, but it was Ramos who set the tone at the back with a commanding display to shut out PSG’s big guns.
The Parisians may have been without star man Neymar, but they still boasted plenty of attacking weapons in the likes of Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria, but Ramos nullified each of them time and time again, aided ably by the brilliant Raphael Varane.
Ramos set the tone for his performance in the opening minutes, using his strength and awareness to shepherd a rampaging Yuri Berchiche away from the ball with easy confidence, as if he were swatting away an errant fly on his shoulder.
His aerial prowess was also on show in the first half, as he denied Cavani a potential goalscoring opportunity from a cross, and rose highest in the defensive wall to block a Di Maria free kick effort.
But perhaps the most impressive attribute of Ramos’ performance was his willingness to contain his usual, frustrating tendency to rush out of position to make tackles.
Up against the superior pace of Mbappe, the Andalusian wisely elected to hold his position in one-on-one situations, enabling him to thwart the threat of driven crosses from wide areas.
Ramos also refused to grant his former teammates Di Maria and Dani Alves any leeway, their attempts to beat him on the dribble amounting to nought.
In addition to setting up a brick wall at the back, the World Cup winner also helped his team maintain possession, using his calm and experience to turn defensive interceptions into first-time passes to teammates.
Achieving a 92% pass completion accuracy from his 50 passes, the 32-year-old helped his comrades circulate the ball and frustrate Unai Emery’s charges.
The Spaniard also looked to cause damage at the other end, and nearly opened the scoring with a side-footed volley that Alphonse Areola scrambled to save.
However, it wouldn’t be a Sergio Ramos performance without a booking, and the three-time Champions League winner obliged, picking up a 78th minute caution to become the most prolific collector of yellow cards in competition history.
An ominous outing
Barring that blip, this was a consummate captain’s display from Ramos, although he insisted in his post-match comments that his effort, and that of his team, was not as easy as it may have looked.
“It’s never as comfortable as it seems. It was a very intense, physical effort,” he stated. “The truth is that it was a huge effort.”
By helping erect a defensive mountain at the back, Ramos played a vital role in helping his team take another step towards scaling the improbable peak of three consecutive Champions League titles.
Stiffer challenges will surely await Zinedine Zidane’s men in the rounds to come, but with Ramos looking to be entering his customary late-season hero mode, Los Merengues will be a force to be reckoned with.