Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos applauds the away supporters at the end of their 2-1 first leg loss in the Champions League semi-finals against Juventus. Marco Bertorello / AFP / May 5, 2015
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos applauds the away supporters at the end of their 2-1 first leg loss in the Champions League semi-finals against Juventus. Marco Bertorello / AFP / May 5, 2015

‘This was a bad game’ for midfield experiment, admits Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos



Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will have to rethink his tactics ahead of the Champions League return leg after Sergio Ramos came unstuck in an experimental midfield role in the semi-final clash with Juventus.

Acclaimed as one of the game’s best centre-halves, Ramos looked like a fish out of water in the middle of the pitch in their 2-1 first leg defeat on Tuesday both defensively in front of the backline and most noticeably in building play.

“I am here to help the team wherever I can,” Ramos told reporters.

“The other day it worked out for me but this was a bad game on a personal and a group level. I have confidence in the coach and I was ready to sacrifice myself for the team.

“I have to run a lot more than in central defence but that is not a big worry for me. We have to be self-critical and learn from our mistakes.”

Real have suffered an injury crisis in recent weeks that led Ancelotti to look at different options in midfield to cover for the absence of Luka Modric as he was not convinced by the obvious choices of Asier Illarramendi and Lucas Silva.

Ramos was a surprising but effective solution in midfield as Real overcame neighbours Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite competition but it is a strategy that has not always worked.

He was able to impose himself physically against Atletico but against more mobile midfielders, who pressure him in possession, he is less effective.

Last weekend against Sevilla in La Liga, Real did triumph in the end but Ramos did not look comfortable and Juventus had clearly done their homework.

Arturo Vidal, in particular, hassled him on the ball and his distribution was poor, while there was often a gap behind him which Carlos Tevez, coming deeper, fully exploited.

However, despite the defeat, Ramos is confident that the reigning champions can turn around the result in front of their home fans at the Bernabeu next week.

“In this game nothing went for us. I think that anyone would readily accept our situation now,” he said.

“We are one goal away from the final and we will play the game in our stadium although this does not take away the fact that this was a bad game.”

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Salah in numbers

€39 million: Liverpool agreed a fee, including add-ons, in the region of 39m (nearly Dh176m) to sign Salah from Roma last year. The exchange rate at the time meant that cost the Reds £34.3m - a bargain given his performances since.

13: The 25-year-old player was not a complete stranger to the Premier League when he arrived at Liverpool this summer. However, during his previous stint at Chelsea, he made just 13 Premier League appearances, seven of which were off the bench, and scored only twice.

57: It was in the 57th minute of his Liverpool bow when Salah opened his account for the Reds in the 3-3 draw with Watford back in August. The Egyptian prodded the ball over the line from close range after latching onto Roberto Firmino's attempted lob.

7: Salah's best scoring streak of the season occurred between an FA Cup tie against West Brom on January 27 and a Premier League win over Newcastle on March 3. He scored for seven games running in all competitions and struck twice against Tottenham.

3: This season Salah became the first player in Premier League history to win the player of the month award three times during a term. He was voted as the division's best player in November, February and March.

40: Salah joined Roger Hunt and Ian Rush as the only players in Liverpool's history to have scored 40 times in a single season when he headed home against Bournemouth at Anfield earlier this month.

30: The goal against Bournemouth ensured the Egyptian achieved another milestone in becoming the first African player to score 30 times across one Premier League campaign.

8: As well as his fine form in England, Salah has also scored eight times in the tournament phase of this season's Champions League. Only Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, with 15 to his credit, has found the net more often in the group stages and knockout rounds of Europe's premier club competition.

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5


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