Dave Reay is back with a look at the ever versatile Sergio Ramos…
What a dilemma to have. Sergio Ramos at right back or centre half. If only England had this choice.
There’s no debate that Ramos has become a commanding centre half this season. With Ricardo Carvalho decaying rapidly and Raphael Varane still a raw talent; Jose Mourinho has seen it fit to deploy the Madrid vice-captain as Pepe’s partner for almost every game.
The thing about Ramos is that he is a quality right back as well and offers so many things. Strong in the air and the tackle with pace to burn, you would think that those are the ideal qualities for an overlapping full back. Same could be said for Micah Richards but more recently Roberto Mancini has favoured Pablo Zabaleta. The situations are very similar at Madrid in the sense that Alvaro Arbeloa is more positionally astute than Ramos and has better concentration meaning he is slightly better defensively. Arbeloa at Liverpool was part of a tough defense but one of the reasons why Liverpool failed to break down so many teams at home in the 2008/09 season was that the right wing was not penetrative enough with Dirk Kuyt playing out on the right but always coming inside. Arbeloa doesn’t have the skills to properly overlap his winger and beat a man where as Ramos does.
Both Madrid and Spain play with their wide midfielders cutting inside allowing the full backs to overlap. This suits Spain and Madrid yet Mourinho chooses to be more defensively solid. A classic example of why Ramos should play right back for Spain is this. As you can see, Ramos is a constant outlet for Xabi Alonso. That’s not to say Arbeloa wouldn’t be and isn’t currently for Madrid but Ramos offers the extra attacking flair.
It’s obvious that Mourinho wants Ramos’ leadership qualities at the heart of his defense and it’s a wise move as Madrid have pretty much sealed La Liga with their 2-1 win over Barcelona last Saturday. Also, Madrid does not need a penetrative full back on the right with so many attacking options up front and Marcelo or Coentrao overlapping on the left. Spain on the other hand, will need Ramos at right back. Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique are likely to be the main centre halves and with Alonso and Sergio Busquets holding the midfield, it will allow Ramos to bomb forward without as much defensive duty.