In October 2018, shortly before visiting the Camp Nou for the first classic of that black season, Sergio Ramos drew the panorama of Real Madrid lying on a stretcher, next to a window through which one of the football fields could be seen. Valdebebas training.
“Let's see Julen [Lopetegui, the coach]… The poor man… The results are not doing him justice…”, he tells him in the series
The heart of Sergio Ramos
, from Amazon, to the physiotherapist David Escrivá, while he treats his right twin.
Madrid has then lost the last two league games, against Alavés (1-0) and Levante (1-2), and is seventh, four points behind Barça.
“He is going to play it in the classic.
In the end, a lot will depend on what happens there.
But, well, the players are here to abide by the decisions made above, ”he tells Escrivá as if he were observing someone else's twilight moment from a distance.
They lose 5-1 and Florentino Pérez fires Lopetegui.
This October the perspective from which Ramos contemplated the approach to the classic was very different.
He injured his left knee during the League match against Cádiz that his team ended up losing (0-1), and he could not play the Champions League debut, which resulted in another blushing defeat at home, 2-3 against a Shakhtar decimated by covid-19.
That European bump was experienced by the captain screaming from the Alfredo di Stéfano stands while his teammates tried to come back.
Madrid have lost seven of the last eight Champions League games in which the central defender was missing.
Every time it seems less a coincidence and more the revelation of the extraordinary and growing weight of Ramos in the team, both in the field and at the institutional level.
Cristiano Ronaldo disappeared and with Eden Hazard unpublished, he occupies more space than anyone.
His drive was so crucial to win the coronavirus League as to negotiate with Florentino Pérez, without fuss or public injuries, the reduction of 10% of the salary of the staff (except Bale) that allowed to alleviate the tremendous drop in income of the club by the pandemic.
In particular, since that moment, Ramos has become more of a captain than ever, in a process of which the Amazon documentary series leaves some clue with the conversations that it includes with José Antonio Camacho, Fernando Hierro and Raúl González, other historical bearers of the bracelet.
Beats in the background a concern about the footprint that a footballer who is already 34 will leave.
He left confinement with an unbridled hunger, determined to overcome Barça in the League.
He ordered the lines as always and began to attack at a gallop like never before.
It was his highest scoring season: 13 goals, 11 in the League and two in the Champions League, a competition in which he again saw the team fall from the stands, sanctioned.
But he decided not to miss the classic on Saturday.
"It was a bit doubtful, not only because of the overload and tendinosis that I had there behind the knee, in the popliteal, but it was a goal that I set myself from the previous game," he said later.
Extend your contract
The victory at the Camp Nou contained the two ingredients of Ramos' overall leadership: his command of the group and his voracity for personal records.
From his presence, the team got organized and got together again.
The contrast with respect to the two previous defeats was similar to that registered last year between the defeat in the Parque de los Príncipes against PSG without him (3-0) and the victory against Sevilla four days later with him on the field (0 -one).
And then there was also his individual contribution, with his 100th goal in 656 games for white.
“Very happy on a personal level, because on top of that it serves to break the tie that was 1-1;
a penalty that they also do to me ”, summed up after what was his 25th consecutive success from eleven meters.
Few defenses have had as much influence in the two areas.
In La Liga, until he surpassed it last season, he only had Ronald Koeman, now the coach of FC Barcelona, ahead of him as top scorer.
On Saturday they greeted each other affectionately at halftime and at the end of the match, when Ramos had increased his distance with the same goal: 74 to 67.
"A week of crisis at Real Madrid is two games," the captain summarized satisfied, who this Monday travels with the team to Mönchengladbach to, again on the field, try to straighten the course on Tuesday also in the Champions League.
He will have two other important dispatches ahead of him, also one for a group and another for individuals: the new salary cut that the club will need as it continues to be forced by the pandemic to play behind closed doors, and the extension of its contract, which expires on next June 30.