Sunday morning’s Champions League Final was chock-full of narrative.
Karius’ woes, Bale’s stunner, Salah’s injury – the game in Kiev had it all, as Real Madrid ran out eventual 3-1 winners over a gallant Liverpool.
Salah’s injury at the 26th minute mark was especially tough on Reds fans. The striker has netted 44 goals this season and fans knew pre-game that if the Egyptian Maestro turned it on, it could be their night. Real Madrid also knew this, of course, and manager Zinedine Zidane detailed to his defenders how to contain Salah; watch him when he sways to the flanks, contain his diagonal runs, stay on your feet while defending, etc.
“Why contain him tactically when I could just kick him or dislocate his shoulder?” one voice piped up.
“Don’t do that,” Zidane said. “You’ll get sent off”.
“Just watch me” (*unconfirmed but likely exchange).
That voice was the Agent of Chaos, Master of the Dark Arts himself: Sergio Ramos.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) May 26, 2018
After 26 minutes Ramos clung onto Salah’s arm in a tussle until they hit the deck, forcing Salah’s arm into an unnatural position and, upon impact, injuring his shoulder to force him from the field a couple of minutes later.
Here’s another look at it:
Here’s that Salah challenge again. If you think that was accidental you haven’t seen Ramos play before. He tried to break his arm. Changed the game.
— Gregarious (@lfcgregarious) May 26, 2018
Even the European Judo Union got involved, saying the move was illegal. When the mighty EJU get involved, all contrary views are invalidated.
If the tussle was an isolated incident, there would be some forgiveness among football fans. Except Ramos has been doing these sorts of things his whole career. In last year’s final he had Juan Cuadrado sent off after feigning injury:
— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) June 3, 2017
Later in the game on Sunday he tried to pull a similar move on Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, although the referee was rightfully unfazed.
There’s a sense of subtlety to Ramos’ exploits that I almost respect. Controversy circles him like few others in world sport, and he makes the likes of David Warner and Hayden Ballantyne look uncultured in world sport’s shit-stirring hierarchy.
You don’t need stats to explain Ramos’ crafty ways, although they certainly help. The centre-back has received almost 300 cards in his career and owns the record for the most cards in La Liga, Champions League and Spanish national team history. Bravo Sergio.
It’s not just Liverpool fans that he’s annoyed, too. With just 18 days until the World Cup, Salah looks in danger of missing the tournament for his native Egypt, who have qualified for the first time since 1990.
Madrid fans and Ramos sympathisers back him to the hilt, and spit utterances such as ‘yeah but he’s a winner and he wins’.
He’s also just a bit of a wanker.