Making a case for Ramos for the Balon d'Or
As of this year, there are 4 things that are certain in the world. Death, Taxes, Robben cutting inside to curl it past the far post, and Ramos heading in a goal from a corner to save Real Madrid.
After his (yet again) crucial goal against Betis, Ramos reached double figures in goals, but his tremendous contribution is not quantifiable. Ramos has the uncanny ability to just ghost into space, and come barging into the six-yard box, where the ball is usually delivered by the Real Madrid midfielders. Not the tallest centre back, he uses a combination of his grit and speed off the ball to power the ball using either the centre or the side of his head to plant it past the goalkeeper into the back of the net.
This was a trend that started from the 2013/14 Champions League, a tournament which wrote him into Real Madrid folklore as the Hero de da Decima, as he scored 3 goals over 2 legs in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich knocking them out of the tournament, and scored the stoppage-time equaliser in the final against cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid, inducing adrenaline in the veins of the other players in the squad, as they won the match 4-1. He was in the top-5 list for the Balon d'Or, as he also produced defensive masterclasses match after match leading to Real's cup double that season.
He seamlessly transferred his form to the next season, as he won plaudits for his defensive displays in the first half of the season, but Real's form deteriorated after winter, with Sergio Ramos and most of the squad ravaged by injuries as Carlo just could not replace his vice-captain. Even when he did come back, the centre back partnership between Pepe and him had reached an all time low.
The next season, he had seemingly lost all his speed, and though determined, just could do not do what he used to, as most teams targeted him as the weak link in Rafa Benitez's side. When Zidane arrived, things changed, and he could show his tremendous physical attributes as the gaffer chose to play a deep back line, to support Ramos and Pepe, with the reliable Keylor and Casemiro in support. He also contributed to some extremely important goals, scoring the only goal for Real Madrid in the Champions League final, as he came back to haunt his neighbors......again.
But, this season, on the goalscoring department, he's gone on a whole new level. With Real Madrid usually reliant on Ronaldo for scoring goals, especially important goals, Ramos has been an anomaly. It is not the 10 goals he's scored that is a miracle, but the time he scores them. When the time is 80 minutes and Real have a corner or a free kick, the ultras start signing "Ramos, our saviour, Ramos, our saviour". And when he does score the inevitable goal, they sing "Ramontada". It has almost become a tradition this year at the Bernabeu. Sure, for many critics, this "saving" is "disturbing", because a top team like Real Madrid is dependent on a centre-back. But, for the Real Madrid fans, it has been an absolute delight as, one of the joys of football, is your favourite team scoring a late player. Yes, he mostly compensates for his own mistakes while defending, but even rival teams cannot help but look at Ramos, and wonder if their team's captains can really come up big.
This is a point at which the skipper's leadership and importance to the team is unquestionable, only proved by the fact he had the tact to dedicate this goal to his under-fire goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
As the media runs out of hyperboles to describe the 30-year-young centre back, we can't help but recall the famous JFK quote "When the going gets tough, the tough get going".