Tag Archives: Sergio Ramos

Fantasy Matches: Real Madrid 15-18 vs Barcelona 08-11

When you think about the best teams of the modern era, there are two that stick out like a sore thumb.

During a period where Spanish football was the home of the best players and managers in the world, it was obviously Barcelona and Real Madrid that had periods of dominance across Europe and domestically.

But what would have happened if you put those two teams, at their best, head-to-head with each other? We’re here to break it down and try and figure it out.



Barcelona between 2008 and 2011 were and are considered one of the greatest club sides in the history of football.

Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, they revolutionised the way attacking football was played up until this day. They dominated possession, scored countless goals, passed opponents to death and were the home to arguably the greatest player of all-time in Lionel Messi.

Their 4-3-3 system with attacking full-backs and technically secure players all over the pitch set the benchmark as they won two Champions League trophies, three La Liga titles, three Spanish Super Cups, a Copa Del Rey, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups across three-and-a-half seasons.

Real Madrid couldn’t compete with them during that period, but they made their own mark half a decade later when they not only became the first team to retain their Champions League trophy but they also made it three-in-a-row.

Add to that a La Liga title, a Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two World Club Cups under Zinedine Zidane (plus an extra World Club Cup under Santi Solari after Zidane’s resignation), this is a team synonymous with success and winning.

The brilliant goalscoring of Cristiano Ronaldo, the majestic midfield play of Luka Modric and Tony Kroos, the playmaking from full-back by Marcelo and the leadership of Sergio Ramos at the back, this was a complete squad.

The difference between these two powerhouse teams is that Real Madrid were able to adapt their style of play depending on the opponent.

Against weaker opposition they had the ability to dominate the ball and carve open defences to score goals, while pushing high up the pitch to sustain pressure.

When they came up against quality outfits though, Zidane would ensure they sat a bit deeper defensively, were compact in midfield and explosive on the counter attack with the pace of Ronaldo, Benzema and even Gareth Bale leading the way.

Barcelona on the other hand were the same no matter what. Much like today’s Guardiola, it was all about controlling the ball and dominating possession. Short passes, lots of sharp movements and rotation across positions and technical security meant they were unshakeable on the ball.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane pose for a photo accepts The Best FIFA Men's Player award during The Best FIFA Football Awards at The London...

But the Catalan legend also instilled a hunger in the team to win the ball back as soon as possible when they did lose it, famously starting a seven-second press that if the opponent was able to surpass would usually result on them being in on goal.

It’s fair to say that Zidane’s Madrid side would ultimately allow Barcelona to have the ball in midfield and be compact, while using their own technical abilities and brilliant quality to try and pick them off on the counter as they did to so many top sides during their Champions League wins during that period.

The difference however, is that this Madrid side never came up against this Lionel Messi.

The little Argentine was a totally different animal under Guardiola, which is terrifying considering all he has achieved since they parted ways in 2012.

Lionel Messi of Argentina and Barcelona FC receives the FIFA player of the year award during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2010 t the congress hall on...

I have no doubts that Ronaldo would likely have a say on the game himself, because during this period of time he was at his goalscoring best and most clutch. But Messi could effect the game without just putting the ball into the net.

David Villa and Pedro were also huge goalscoring threats from the wing, while Dani Alves in his peak was arguably the best right-back of all-time. It’s hard to imagine this Real Madrid side keeping this peak Barcelona side goalless for 90 minutes and while I wouldn’t bet against them scoring themselves, ultimately the greatest player of all-time would separate the two best club sides we’ve seen in this era of football.

Prediction: Real Madrid (15-18) 1-2 Barcelona (08-11) / Messi masterclass.

Real Madrid show the old guard still has it as they progress past Atalanta

Real Madrid secured their passage to the Champions League quarter-finals with a routine win over Serie A side Atalanta, as Zinedine Zidane showed why he still relies on his old guard to lead this team.

The French manager has been under pressure at several different points of the season so far for under performing domestically in La Liga and also in Europe, but has stuck with his relatively older squad and it is now beginning to come good for him towards the business end of the season.

Goals from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and substitute Marcos Asensio were enough on the night for a 3-1 win, with Luis Muriel scoring a screamer of a free-kick as a consolation for Atalanta.

With Benzema 33 now, Ramos 34, Luka Modric 35 and Toni Kroos 31, the Madrid core is entering it’s twilight. Despite tha though, they are still oozing quality and are justifying Zidane’s decision to stick with them even through the tough times.

The manager has had to contend with a host of injury problems, including £100m Eden Hazard who has made only 14 appearances in all competitions so far this campaign. The Belgian was missing once again for this tie after picking up another injury, with Spanish media now speculating he could miss the Euros this summer.

Despite that, Zizou has largely stuck with older core where he can and Los Blancos are now reaping the rewards at the business end of the season.

Real Madrid have now won eight of their last 11 games in all competitions and are unbeaten in their last nine. That has seen them close the gap on local rivals Atletico Madrid to just six points with all three contenders having played the same amount of games and still needing to face each other.

While they’re not the favourites in the title race or in the Champions League, their experience and quality when it comes to winning big games cannot go unnoticed. Much of this squad was part of the side that won three Champions League titles in a row and they all were part of the squad that went on a big run post-lockdown last season to win the title.

It’s fair to say that the better teams won’t fear drawing Real Madrid in Friday’s draw, nobody will be clamouring to face them either. Over two legs they’re still incredibly tough to beat and they have the attacking quality to break even the best teams down too.

With the know how of the squad, and the manager, they’re a side to keep an eye on – which is crazy to say about a team as hugely successful as Real Madrid have been in the past.

Nobody can or will take them lightly and they will have the self-confidence that they can beat anyone, so don’t rule them out of doing something crazy like winning a trophy or two come the end of the season.

Manchester United must prioritise a centre back this summer

As we move past the half way point of the current Premier League campaign, discussion among the Manchester United fanbase has shifted to how United can improve over the summer and kick on to the next level under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still having an impact on the sporting world, there will most likely be a limited transfer budget once again. While there will always be talk of attack minded players joining a club of United’s stature and tradition, with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland being linked again recently, there is a more important position to fill at Old Trafford.

The Reds have scored 49 goals in the Premier League this season, the highest so far, which is impressive given the attacking talent and options that are available to the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Edinson Cavani has proven to be a shrewd piece of business from United, with his energy and experience proving vital on and off the pitch, while also helping the the likes of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood on the training ground.

However Solskjaer’s side have also let in 30 league goals this campaign, the most in the top nine. This has led to a few games where what should have been three points for United has become a point or even a defeat.

If United want to fulfil their ambitions of returning to the summit of the English game once again then these costly errors have to be cut out.

David De Gea has been in decline this season which has led to understandable calls that he should be left out for the time being, with Dean Henderson be given a chance between the sticks. It’s also worth noting that De Gea’s form may not be helped by how unstable and unreliable his defenders in front of him have been.

Manchester United v Leeds United - Pre-Season Friendly : News Photo

United have looked at their most solid at the back when Eric Bailly has partnered Harry Maguire in central defence, but the Ivorian cannot be relied upon due to his injury prone record and his combative style has only exacerbated that issue.

Victor Lindelof has remained unconvincing when called upon and should be considered a squad player rather than first choice at the club, while Maguire has had a poor campaign so far as questions mounted not only of his quality but his leadership skills as well.

The defence this season has been caught napping on many occasions and have been far too reactive instead of anticipating the danger and snuffing it out. Whether it’s opposition attackers being played onside or failing to compete for that 50/50 in the air, it’s clear to see that United are in need of reinforcements in that area.

Last summer they were linked with RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, who at only 22-years-old is emerging as one of the most talented defenders in Europe. He would be an ideal acquisition as his playmaking sensibilities from the back and decent passing accuracy suit United’s style of play.

Upamecano also has the ability read the game well and recover on the counter and protect the space in behind when playing in a high line. With his release clause down to just €42m this summer after signing a contract extension, United may not get a better opportunity to add the Frenchman to their ranks.

RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga : News Photo

Sergio Ramos should be another name United consider for a more experienced hand, with the Real Madrid captain’s contract running out at the end of this season.

Ramos has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in the past, mainly in 2015 when Louis van Gaal was in charge. It is thought that Ramos used The Reds’ interest in him to leverage a better contract with Real Madrid so it would be understandable if United are reluctant to be led down the garden path again.

If Ramos genuinely does want a different challenge, then it’s an opportunity United can’t afford to waste. To be able to call upon a proven winner and a player that knows how to win ugly doesn’t come around often and could prove invaluable in passing on some of that knowledge and experience in the same way Cavani has done for the likes of Rashford, Martial and Greenwood.

Solskjaer has been in the job for over two years now and while doubts still remain about his overall suitability to the job, the club has made genuine progress this season. Most United fans would have taken a Champions League spot a few months ago, so few would have expected to have been in the conversation about winning the league.

In recent weeks United’s achilles heel at the back has led to them falling away from the likes of Manchester City at the top of the table, meaning that a title win this season may one step too far.

Should they address this issue in the summer then there can be no doubts that United will be up there once again.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea vs Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid

One of the greatest managers in the history of the sport, Jose Mourinho has managed some of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

He also managed two of the best teams we’ve seen, during two separate eras and for two different reasons.

When Mourinho joined Chelsea as ‘The Special One’, he built one of the greatest defensive teams ever seen. During the 2004/05 season, the Blues conceded just 15 goals in the entire Premier League campaign as they strolled to a first title in 50 years before making it consecutive titles the following season too.

After leaving Chelsea and winning a treble with Inter Milan, Mourinho ended up at the Bernabeu as the manager of Real Madrid. There he would lock horns against Pep Guardiola and arguably the greatest club side ever in Barcelona and eventually break their stranglehold on the La Liga title.

His Madrid side were a goalscoring demon, scoring a record 121 goals during the league campaign as they recorded 100 points to win the title for the first time since 2008.

But who would win if the two sides met each other? Lets break it down.


Mourinho always loved building his teams from the back and that usually starts with the goalkeeper.

At Chelsea, he made the decision early on to replace long-time number one Carlo Cudicini with young Petr Cech. The signing from Rennes was completed before Jose arrived, but it was the Portuguese manager’s choice to put him in and keep him as the first choice. He won the Golden Glove award for keeping a record 21 clean sheets in his first season and conceded just 37 goals in two seasons combined, including a record low of 15 in the first.

For Real Madrid, the decision was much simpler. Club legend Iker Casillas was the number one pick at the club since he was a teenager and was still near the top of his game when Mourinho came in and he kept that position until Jose’s final season.

Chelsea's English defender John Terry (R : News Photo

In defence, Mourinho’s Chelsea back four is legendary among Premier League circles. Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho followed him from Porto and went straight into the side, while John Terry was already captain. William Gallas was a centre-back by nature, but filled in at left-back for Mourinho in place of Wayne Bridge as Mourinho opted for more physicality.

At Madrid, the defence selected itself. Alvaro Arbeloa had joined from Liverpool before Mourinho was hired, but he was the first choice right-back when they won the league because of a long-term injury to Mourinho’s trusted enforcer Carvalho who was also now at Madrid. This meant Sergio Ramos moved to centre-back alongside Pepe while Marcelo was still the first choice left-back ahead of Fabio Coentrao.

In midfield, Mourinho has almost always opted for physicality over intricacy and those patterns continue in these two sides.

At Chelsea, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele were guaranteed starters in the first campaign while Michael Essien joined in the second season from Lyon. He replaced another Portuguese player in the side, as Tiago dropped out to accommodate the Ghanaian’s inclusion. He offered mobility, power, great passing and tenacity as well as an added goal threat for Mourinho, who looked to get even more from Frank Lampard.

Madrid’s midfield was more creative than Chelsea’s but still physical enough to withstand the battles it needed to get into. Xabi Alonso was the dictator from deep who was also able to break up play and defend, while Sami Khedira was the box-to-box option who marauded around the pitch chasing the ball to win it back but also to add extra threat in the opposition box on occasion.

The big difference was between Ozil and Lampard, with the German in the team to create while the England man was in the side to finish moves off. He finished as Chelsea’s top goalscorer in both of Mourinho’s first two seasons in England, scoring 19 and 20 goals respectively, while Ozil created 28 goals on his own in all competitions in 2011/12.

In attack, Chelsea were consistently clinical. Didier Drogba established himself as Mourinho’s first-choice centre forward, with the Ivory Coast international a physical presence with excellent link up play. He scored 30 goals in the two seasons combined under Jose, but it was ability to link with the wide men that made him invaluable.

In the first campaign Arjen Robben and Damien Duff played on opposite wings and terrorised defences, although the Dutchman was ravaged by injury problems during his time in London. In the second campaign, Robben continued at a similar rate but Joe Cole stepped up and essentially took over from Duff as his partner on the other side. Together they had pace, skill, a fantastic passing range and an eye for goal that carried Mourinho’s side to back-to-back championships.

In Madrid, the attack was much stronger in depth. Players like former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain were restricted to roles as a substitute mainly because of the form of Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and the phenomenal Cristiano Ronaldo.

Di Maria scored seven goals and assisted 17, while Benzema scored 32 and assisted 19 during the campaign. Those numbers paled in comparison to Ronaldo though, who scored an incredible 60 goals to go with 15 assists in all competitions as Mourinho was able to topple Guardiola and Messi at the top of La Liga.

It would be a true contest of attack against defence if the two sides met and it is harder and harder to look past Real Madrid as the winners of any potential contest.

The quality of the attack is arguably the best we’ve seen in recent years barring Barcelona’s incredible ‘MSN’ trio and as good as Chelsea’s defence was, they never really came under significant threat in the Premier League. They never quite dominated in Europe, reaching a semi-final and then the last 16 so Madrid would obviously fancy their chances.

Defensively Madrid weren’t awful themselves, conceding only 32 goals in their league campaign and they also reached the Champions League semi-finals.

It would be a fantastic game, where we’d see the best of Mourinho’s two philosophies of football. ‘Park the bus’ vs ‘give it to Ronaldo’. Ronaldo wins for me.

Why Sergio Ramos will be staying at Real Madrid beyond 2021

When a top player enters the final six months of their contract at a top club, it’s usually for one of two reasons. Either the player wants out, or the club don’t want the player anymore.

Neither of these are the case at Real Madrid right now though, as Sergio Ramos enters the final stretch of his contract at the Bernabeu.

Skipper Ramos signed for the club from Sevilla way back in 2005 for a fee of around £25m and has gone on to make an astounding 667 appearances for the club. He’s won all there is to win and continues to be as important now at 34 years of age as he ever has been.

So it’s interesting that both parties have allowed his contract to reach a point now where he is able to negotiate with other clubs in Europe about leaving on a free transfer at the end of the season.

As is expected when a world class player becomes available, the links have been constant and vast.

Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus have all been linked with a potential move for Spain’s most capped player of all-time. Reports suggest that the sticking point currently between Ramos and Real Madrid is the player’s wage demands and also the length of the deal.

Ramos is reportedly demanding a two-year deal despite the club’s policy of offering only one-year extensions to players over 30, while also wanting a pay increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the club to ask the players to take a percentage wage cut.

Madrid are reportedly willing to match his current wages on a two-year deal, but that hasn’t proven to be enough to convince their captain to sign on.

This is a familiar story for Ramos, who memorably was targeted by Manchester United and Louis van Gaal before signing a new five-year deal with Madrid in August 2015.

Using other big clubs publicly during a contract dispute is a tactic used regularly by agents to attract interest but also to apply pressure.

The truth is, Ramos wants to stay at Real Madrid. It’s the club where he has built his career and he loves them, just as much as they love him. All the financial talk is one-upmanship but eventually they will come to an agreement.

Ramos has all the power at Real Madrid. He controls the narrative of any stories that come out, he is the leader of the changing room and the talisman of the club. He has special relationships with players, fans and hierarchy at the club and the chances of him leaving to go somewhere else for the end of his career are slim to none.

He’s the first name on the team-sheet, is still one of the best in the world and Madrid know it would be nigh on impossible to replace him in the current market.

While stories are fun to read and it’s always nice to imagine signing a world class player for your club, this is not one of those instances.

Sergio Ramos will stay at Real Madrid next season, bank on it.

My Perfect Footballer

I was born in 1993 which means I have been blessed enough to see to see some of the greatest footballers of recent memory, and even of all-time.

All of them have excelled in different areas that if you combined them together, would make the perfect footballer. But which players would have which attribute if you did merge them all together? Without using a single player for more than one attribute, lets build the perfect footballer from top to bottom.


Brain
Phillip Lahm

One of the most intelligent footballers I’ve ever seen, he was world class in three different positions during his career. Able to play in both full-back roles as well as central midfield, Lahm has one of the best football IQ’s ever seen.

Heading Ability
Sergio Ramos

It was between two but Ramos gets the nod due to the other player being picked elsewhere on this list. Ramos’ aerial ability is phenomenal in both boxes, with the central defender scoring over 100 goals during his career including a vital header the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final : News Photo

Physique
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Standing at 6ft 4′ and standing at the top of the European scene for the best part of two decades, Zlatan’s physique is paramount to his success. Still scoring goals at age 39 without a problem, his longevity makes him the perfect choice here.

Hands
Peter Schmeichel

If my player ever had to do a Kyle Walker and go in goal for whatever reason, then I’d want him to have the hands of the Great Dane. The greatest goalkeeper I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes, he has to get the pick here.

Tackling
Alessandro Nesta

For me, the best defender I’ve ever seen. A calmness on the ball that is more often associated with modern defenders, Nesta was the epitome of old school when it came to tackling. He mastered the art of defending and was one of the best when it came to nicking the ball back from an opponent.

Agility
Sadio Mane

This may seem like a strange pick on paper but I can’t think of many players more agile than the Senegal international. He can go both ways as comfortably as the other and incredibly quickly, making him a nightmare for defenders.

Passing
Xavi Hernandez

Quite simply the best passer of a football in his generation. He was the focal point of the greatest midfield we’ve ever seen in Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side and had a phenomenal range. Whether short, long, through the lines or one-touch to beat a press, he had it all.

First Touch
Zinedine Zidane

The first name that comes to mind when someone talks about a player’s first touch is Zidane and therefore he’s my pick. I’ll never forget my reaction when he took down Barthez’s long throw with a flick and beat a man all with a single touch. Genius.

Speed
Thierry Henry

I could have put this man in plenty of these categories but I opted for this one because of the way he used to glide across the pitch. In his peak he would outrun anyone even with the ball at his feet, as his famous Bernabeu goal proved.

Dribbling
Neymar

Flying past opponents with absolute ease I could easily have switched Neymar and Ronaldinho around here. His creativity, speed, agility, ability with both feet and skill in tight spaces make Neymar the obvious choice.

Skills
Ronaldinho

The man that truly made me fall in love with the game of football. The smile on his face while he was getting kicked to pieces tells you all you need to know. He showed me football is an art and the things he could do with a ball still to this day bring me to my feet. What a footballer.

Crossing
David Beckham

Well, duh. Without a doubt in my mind David Beckham is the greatest crosser of a ball that has ever played football. He could put the ball wherever he wanted, from anywhere on the pitch. Genuinely one of a kind.

Right Foot
Cristiano Ronaldo

It had to be. One of the greatest players of all time, I couldn’t not pick his greatest weapon that got him that accolade.

Left Foot
Lionel Messi

The best player of all-time, much like Ronaldo there was no other option. It’s essentially a magician’s wand and he can do absolutely anything he wants with it. The easiest pick on this list.

La Liga 2017-18 - Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona : News Photo

Ballon D’Or 2020 Cancelled

France Football have announced that their prestigious Ballon D’Or award will not be handed out in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ballon D’Or is given to the best player in the world for the year and is voted for by players, managers and journalists. This will be the first time since 1956, the year it was founded, that there will be no Ballon D’Or winner.

Lionel Messi is the current record holder with 6 wins, while Cristiano Ronaldo is just behind him with 5. Neither of those however were really in the running this year.

Robert Lewandowksi was the front-runner for the award, with the Bayern Munich striker scoring 52 goals this season so far. He won the Bundesliga, German Cup and is the current top scorer in the Champions League too – with Bayern favourites to win the competition.

FBL-GER-CUP-FINAL-BAYER LEVERKUSEN-BAYERN MUNICH : News Photo
Lewandowski scored his 52nd goal of the season in the German Cup final win over Bayer Leverkusen

Other candidates included Real Madrid duo Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema, while Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were also likely to be in the conversation following Liverpool’s triumphs in England.

The cancellation of the award raises eyebrows though, as all major competitions will have been completed barring France’s Ligue 1, which was cancelled in April due to the coronavirus. International tournaments Euro 2020, Copa America and the African Cup of Nations were all postponed too but they aren’t annual events and thus that shouldn’t matter too much for the award.

It’s a real shame that Lewandowski will likely miss out on the greatest individual award the sport can offer because of this, but his season hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans with social media overflowing with praise for the Polish striker in light of the news.

All eyes now head over to the 2021 award, where it will be interesting to see how it is judged and whether all performances and statistics are carried over and used in consideration when deciding who will be the next man crowned as the world’s best footballer.