Real Madrid lost arguably their best defender early in Wednesday's Champions League match with Galatasaray when Sergio Ramos earned a red card in the 26th minute.
The club's official Twitter account noted the loss of Ramos:
26' Ramos sent off. #RMLive— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) November 27, 2013
The foul occurred when Galatasaray attacker Umut Bulut was sent forward with a through ball and Ramos closely trailed him. Ramos then seemed to nudge at Bulut in an effort to catch up, which sent the player tumbling toward the ground.
Ramos was quickly shown the red card and got an ear-full from Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti as he exited the pitch, leaving Madrid with just 10 men. It was the 17th red card of Ramos' career.
Playing at centre-back, Ramos' departure leaves an undeniable hole in the Madrid defense, which was felt some 12 minutes after his exit. In the 38th minute, Didier Drogba played a pass forward to Bulut in the box and he easily finished it to get Galatasaray on the board.
Galatasaray looked to attack the very spot that earned Ramos the red card on that play, and it paid off. Obviously, Ramos wasn't there, and Pepe was too busy covering another attacker to get there in time.
Did Ramos deserve a red card?
Fortunately for Madrid, a Gareth Bale goal on a free-kick in the 36th minute was enough to send their 10-man unit into half-time with the score knotted up at 1-1. But if they don't figure out how to minimize Ramos' impact in the defense, that won't last for long.
Ramos has proven to be an incredibly versatile asset to the Madrid defense, as he transitioned into the centre-back position after spending his early career on the outer end of the defense. Arbeloa and Marcelo have both thrived on the wings, which has allowed Ramos to nestle into the centre-back spot.
Short of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ramos may very well be the most valuable player on Madrid's squad. His unique versatility makes him an impact player at any part of the defense, and he brings world-class stopping ability to the back line.
Without Ramos for their next match against Copenhagen on Dec. 10, Ancelotti will be forced to put in some younger players in Ramos' place. Keep an eye out for Nacho Fernandez, a 23-year-old centre-back, to get some more time in the defense.