Real forced to fight red-mist Ramos' corner yet again
Real Madrid will end 2013 just as they began it, sending off correspondence to the Spanish league's disciplinary committee.
Not a Christmas card, but a copy of the document, marked 'urgent', they keep on file in template form, the latest appeal against a suspension for defender Sergio Ramos.
Ramos collected his fourth red card of the year on Saturday, just before half-time in Madrid's 2-2 draw at Osasuna.
It was his second expulsion within three weeks, this one the consequence of two cautions within 15 minutes of a bad-tempered evening at a notoriously hostile venue. The result meant that Madrid slipped to five points behind Barcelona in the table. Pepe, Madrid's other central defender, picked up a booking too, so both he and Ramos will be banned for the trip to Valencia this weekend if Madrid's complaint to the league on behalf of their acting captain fails.
Madrid will argue that Ramos' first yellow was undeserved, although, as they first had to seek clarification on whether referee Clos Gomez had issued that card for a foul, or for a verbal confrontation with an assistant referee, the case they make must stick to technicalities and steer clear of too many 'good character' citations.
Ramos often talks as if he is persecuted, branded by reputation in the minds of referees, and he tends to do so in the third person.
"It's easy to send off Sergio Ramos," says Sergio Ramos, as if he, the speaker, were somehow detached from the pantomime villain, whose stray elbow -- the cause of his second caution against Osasuna on Saturday -- or grappling arms (his red card against Galatasaray last month), or industrial language (his first red of 2013, against Celta Vigo) have made him a record-breaker.
He now has 18 red cards for Madrid, who he joined eight and a half years ago. He counts 142 yellow cards from a senior club career that is less than a decade old. He is already Madrid's all-time highest gatherer of expulsions and he is only 27 years old.
Madrid recognised a gifted athlete, capable of mastering both the defensive and attacking aspects of the modern full-back role, with a commanding leap, power and accuracy with his headers, and so spent over £20m on the Sevilla prodigy.
However, within the package is the striking disciplinary handicap.
Ramos' representatives, responding to the lucrative contracts given in the past four months to Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, have been seeking new terms for the defender, who captains Madrid in the absence of Iker Casillas -- the goalkeeper is not in the first XI for La Liga matches -- and the posture of the club's president, Florentino Perez, is that, though he values Ramos, he will not yet be urgently renegotiating a contract that still has two and a half years to run.
That is at least another 100 games and, at the current rate, five more early baths. (© Daily Telegraph, London)