Sergio Ramos: A Striking Defender

By Ralph Chery

Sergio Ramos always had a knack for scoring goals as a defender but this season the Real Madrid skipper has taken  his scoring prowess to another level, netting ten goals—more than the number of a multitude of prominent attackers in Europe.

Without their captain’s goals, Madrid would’ve been in third place instead of first. The 30-year-old scored four winners and two equalizers in Spain this season.

Ramos tied the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla in the 90th minute on Aug. 9th, his side would later win the game 3-2 in extra-time. Four months later the Sevilla native scored another 90th minute game-tying goal against his side’s fierce rival Barcelona.

Ramos struck again on Jan. 21st as he bagged a brace against Malaga in a 2-1 victory. He also showcased his skill of scoring goals when his team is in need in the Champions League, netting a leveler against Napoli in the Round of 16. More recently, Ramos scored an 81st minute header against Real Betis to give his side a 2-1 victory alongside a two-point gap over Barcelona in first place.

The defender’s eye for goal is a result of a combination of him playing striker in his youth and a massive confidence in himself.  The World Cup winner was originally a striker when he signed for his first club Sevilla.

“He was basically a striker when he came to us, or better put he was a player who could play anywhere on the pitch,” former Sevilla defender Pablo Blanco explained.

“He had an amazing physical power that made him stand out in every facet of the game. He tackled, he passed, he scored the goals… we reconverted him to the point that when he moved up to the reserve side he was a central defender. But he played in pretty much every position because he is so good; he has a lot of skill and above all personality. He always wants to win.”

Former Spanish national team coach Luis Aragonés praised 18-year-old Ramos’ confidence before giving him his first call up to the national team. Ramos’ self-confidence has put him ahead of some of the most prolific attackers in Europe in the scorer’s chart.

The Spaniard scored more goals than his teammates, Gareth Bale (nine goals) and Karim Benzema (five goals) and Manchester United’s 2015-16 topscorer Anthony Martial (eight goals).

Additionally, Raheem Sterling, Juan Mata, Christian Eriksen and one of the best German number nine Mario Gomez are one goal behind Ramos’ tally.

Despite Ramos’ breathtaking scoring expertise, Juan Roman Riquelme makes the claim that he wouldn’t be able to score in South America.

“[In South America] we mark differently,” Riquelme told Canal 13. “You watch it and Sergio Ramos comes running in and nobody touches him. Here he would not be able to get going. If [Walter] Samuel marks him, he wouldn’t score a goal.”

SB Nation: Managing Madrid broke down the defender’s scoring strategy. Ramos’ starting position is about five yards from the top of the 18 during corner kicks. When the set piece taker, Toni Kroos, is kicking the ball, Ramos moves from left to right to fake his defender then anticipates the landing of the ball before jumping for a header.

The center back scored the opener against Malaga using this strategy, the winner against Betis—and the 90th minute equalizer against Atletico Madrid in the 2014 CL final.

The 30-year-old’s starting position for free-kicks is closer to the edge of the 18 but still in the center. Bale, or Benzema, and Ronaldo stand on the left and the right side to pull away the defenders or flick to ball to Ramos. The former Sevilla player finished Bale’s header-flick in the 2016 CL final, putting his side up 1-0.

With this strategy and Ramos’s coolness, Los Blancos won two CL finals, they’re currently on top of La Liga. And individually for Ramos, he’s the top scoring defender in Europe in the last 10 years with 40 goals.