Thirteen-time European champions Real Madrid paid a heavy price for a naive decision from captain Sergio Ramos, who intentionally earned a yellow card in the first leg of their knockout match against Ajax last month, believing that qualification was guaranteed after a 2-1 win in Amsterdam.
Ramos received a late yellow card on February 13 after he fouled Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg with the intention of playing in the Champions League quarter-finals with a clean slate after having his penalty backlog exhausted, according to UEFA rules.
“Looking at the result, I would be lying if I said I didn’t force it,” Ramos said after the match.
“It is not to underestimate the opponent nor to think that the series is over, but in football, you have to make hard calculations.”
Tuesday’s game showed Ramos’s wager was a loser, as his absence clearly affected the team’s performance.
The centre of defence became an easy route for the Ajax attackers, who managed to score four goals at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and sealed a 5-3 win on aggregate to advance.
|The moment last month when Ramos earned the yellow card that ruled him out of the return leg in Madrid on Tuesday [Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters]|
For Ramos, the stunning defeat was particularly sour as he had chosen the evening to record scenes for a documentary about his career, sitting in the stand with his family and friends surrounded by specially designed decor.
The film, produced by Amazon, will detail one of the biggest disappointments in the club’s history, with scenes that will be stuck in the memory of the fans for a long time.
The defeat rounded off a miserable week for Real, who have won the Champions League four times in the past five years, but are now left with not much to fight for this season – Back-to-back defeats to Barcelona knocked them out of the Copa del Rey and effectively ended their La Liga title hopes.
“I think I have never felt this awful, I do not know how to explain it,” said defender Dani Carvajal.
“This week everything has gone against us. Tonight we cannot look for excuses. We have to show our faces and not hide, our season has been a piece of sh*t.”
Coach Santiago Solari may yet cling to his job until the end of the season but stands little chance of being in the seat next season after overseeing Tuesday’s almighty collapse to an exciting yet largely inexperienced Ajax side.
|The Amazon film will detail one of the harshest disappointments in the club’s history [Sergio Perez/Reuters]|