It is safe to say that Sergio Ramos has not started the season well. While he will be delighted with the fact that he has scored three goals so far, including a crucial injury-time equaliser in the UEFA Super Cup that Real Madrid eventually won, he has been struggling to perform in his primary role – that of a defender.
The centre-back captained the Spanish side in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Italy and it was his mistake that allowed the Azzurri to come back into the game. With Spain leading 1-0 and ready to hand Italy their first loss in a competitive match at home for the first time since 1999, Ramos went in late on a tackle and brought down Eder, allowing Daniele De Rossi to equalise from the penalty spot.
The season is only 11 games old for Ramos but he has already conceded four penalties for both club and country. To make matters worse, the 30-year-old defender has also been booked five times.
Ramos hits back at critics
Ramos was criticised from all quarters and was accused of “throwing away three points” by sections of the media. But he wasn’t one to take it on the chin and lashed out at both the media and the fans who booed him.
“Those criticising me right now should enjoy themselves,“ he said. “Because I'm going to shut them up in the end!
“Anyone can make a mistake, even Gianluigi Buffon. The only difference is that in Italy they applaud you while here [in Spain] they boo you.”
Ramos was not the only captain who made a costly error on the night. Earlier in the second half, Gianluigi Buffon had made a complete mess of a regulation clearance when he came out of his box to thwart a Spain attack.
The 38-year-old goalkeeper completely missed the ball as he attempted to kick it away, allowing Vitolo to collect the ball and pass it into an empty net. It had prompted De Rossi to say, “Even the best goalkeeper in history has shown that he is human.”
Ramos happy with Spain’s improvement after Euro 2016 debacle
While Spain missed out on an opportunity to beat Italy and exact revenge for their Euro 2016 pre-quarter-final exit at the hands of the Azzurri, Ramos was impressed with the improvements in the team. At the Euros, Spain were guilty of not making the best use of the possession while also severely blunted in attack.
At the Juventus Stadium in Turin on Thursday night, Spain looked much better on the ball even though Italy sat back in a deep 3-5-2 formation for large periods of the game.
“We have recovered our philosophy and style of play,” Ramos explained. “All of us should be happy with the change from the European Championship game and the match on Thursday.”
The 1-1 draw saw both Spain and Italy lose top spot to Albania who now have six points. Both the Azzurri and La Furia Roja are on four points each. But they can make up ground having already played each other once.