Sergio Ramos: the defender-goleador
Since the second San Paolo goal was considered an own goal by Dries Mertens, it cannot be said that Sergio Ramos has become the defender able to score the most goals with the Real Madrid jersey. With 67 goals from 2005 on, however, he is just one net away from Roberto Carlos’ record. And at this rate, the impression is that it is just a question of time. In order to understand the talent of the Spanish defender, we analysed the merengue captain’s last four season, starting from 2013-14, which ended with his saving score in the UEFA Champions League final and coinciding with the first year with at least 7 goals produced.
During these four seasons, Sergio Ramos scored 26 goals wearing a Real Madrid shirt, 20 of which following developments built on a set piece (76.9%). This is a percentage that increased 57% in 2013-14 up to his current 77.7%.
In Italy there has been much talk about the defensive system adopted by Maurizio Sarri against Real Madrid. His zonal marking on set pieces was seen by many as one of the causes of the “almost” brace by Sergio Ramos. In reality, statistically it can be seen that the defender produced only 6 goals out of 26 against teams in a zonal configuration. In other words, 30% of his total on set pieces.
In the vast majority of the cases, Sergio Ramos has struck against man-to-man defences. Evidence of an attacker’s talent not only in a fast sprint, but also in the ability to get open. 20 goals came out of these types of defensive systems, 70% of his goals came from set pieces.
Sergio Ramos’ other secret lies in the excellent quality of the merengue kickers. Almost no one in the world can boast players with the quality of Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Isco, Modric or Kroos on set pieces. Especially the German, with Madrid for three seasons, has created a special chemistry with the captain, managing to provide him with no less than 10 assists from set pieces.
Choosing how to mark Sergio Ramos is a gamble. Because of his aerial and acrobatic skills, but above all because of his instinct that leads him to shaking the defender at just the right moment. Choosing to mark him with a zonal defence means allowing him to break away and strike like a basketball player at a later stage. If you opt for a defence using man marking, you risk giving Real Madrid an easy mismatch. And, in any assessment, you always forget about Kroos’ able foot when it comes to set pieces. A duo that constitutes a true lethal weapon for Real Madrid. Especially in light of quality that is hard to gauge with the statistics. Sergio Ramos’ personality, the one that is reflected in an incredible percentage: 85.7% of his goals in the last three seasons arrived when Real Madrid was losing or locked in a draw. Sensational.
Sergio Ramos: 26 goals in the last 4 seasons, 20 on set pieces (6 against zonal defence)
2 Di Maria, Isco and James
2013-14: 7 goals (4 on set pieces, 2 against zonal defence)
Levante-Real Madrid 2-3: 1 against man marking (Di Maria)
Real Madrid-Osasuna 4-0: play
Bayern Munich-Real Madrid 0-4: 2 against zonal defence (Modric and Di Maria)
Real Madrid-Valencia 2-2: 1 play
Valladolid-Real Madrid 1-1: 1 direct free kick
Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid 4-2: 1 against man marking (Modric)
2014-15: 7 goals (6 on set pieces, 2 against zonal defence)
Real Sociedad-Real Madrid 4-2: 1 against zonal marking (Kroos)
Real Madrid-Rayo Vallecano 5-1: 1 against zonal marking (James Rodriguez)
Cruz Azul-Real Madrid 0-4: 1 against man marking (Kroos)
Real Madrid-San Lorenzo 2-0: 1 against man marking (Kroos)
Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid 2-2: 1 against man marking (Kroos)
Real Madrid-Real Sociedad 4-1: 1 on play
Real Madrid-Malaga 3-1: 1 against zonal marking (Ronaldo)
2015-16: 3 goals (3 on set pieces)
Seville-Real Madrid 3-2: 1 against man marking (Isco)
Las Palmas-Real Madrid 1-2: 1 against man marking (Isco)
Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid 1-1: 1 against man marking (Kroos)
2016-17: 9 goals (7 on set pieces, 2 against zonal defence)
Real Madrid-Seville 2-2: 1 play
Real Madrid-Osasuna 5-2: 1 against man marking (Kroos)
Real Madrid-Villarreal 1-1: 1 against man marking (James Rodriguez)
Barcelona-Real Madrid 1-1: 1 against man marking (Modric)
Real Madrid-Deportivo La Coruna 3-2: 1 against man marking (Kroos)
Seville-Real Madrid 3-3: penalty kick
Real Madrid-Malaga 2-1: 1 against man marking and 1 against zonal defence (2 Kroos)
Napoli-Real Madrid 1-3: 2/1 against zonal defence (Kroos)
Of Sergio Ramos’ 9 (or 10) goals this season: 1 penalty kick, 1 on play, 7 (8) on corner kicks/set pieces. 5 with man marking, 2 (3) with zonal defence.
Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italia editor.