In what was his 600th game for Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos helped his team pick up a controversial 2-1 win at Ajax in a round of 16 first leg match on Wednesday night in Amsterdam. But the veteran defender could risk an extended ban from the competition after he admitted that he intentionally wanted to get a booking in the final minutes of his team’s win in the Netherlands.
With the booking, he would miss the second leg against Ajax but would be available from the quarterfinal onward for Real Madrid should the La Liga giants, who have won the last three editions of the Champions League, make it to the last eight. But the reigning European champions were made to sweat in Amsterdam, eventually powering through to a 2-1 win thanks to goals in the second half from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio.
Ajax had struck back with Hakim Ziyech’s goal to keep a slither of hope going into March’s second leg, while they also felt aggrieved when Nicolas Tagliafico’s opener was chalked off in controversial circumstances by the VAR. “Looking at the result, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t force [the booking]. It is not to underestimate the opponent nor to think that the series is over, but in football you have to make tough decisions,” Ramos said when asked about the offence. And it will not be the first time that Ramos has come under the microscope for allegedly manipulating UEFA’s suspension regulations.
In November 2010, against none other than Ajax, he and Xabi Alonso were both sent off for double bookable offences at the end of a routine 4-0 victory for the Spaniards. Each player was called up for time wasting, raising suspicions that then-Madrid coach Jose Mourinho had instructed the pair to seek deliberate punishment in order to serve their suspensions during the last group stage match against Auxerre rather than in the knockout stages. A UEFA investigation which followed handed Mourinho a two-match touchline ban for his antics, later reduced to one match on appeal, while Ramos and Alonso were both fined.
Then in 2017 another Madrid player fell foul of the European governing body for trying to subvert the rules. UEFA deemed that Ramos’ team-mate Dani Carvajal had intentionally sought a yellow against APOEL and extended his ban to two games, ruling him out of Madrid’s subsequent last-16 first leg. What do you make of Ramos’ latest antics?