Ranking of Sergio Ramos' Most Costly Red Cards
Few things in life are as certain as death, taxes and Sergio Ramos red cards.
The Spain international once again received his marching orders at the weekend, an incredible 22nd dismissal of his Real Madrid career.
It was the fifth time the defender has been shown a red card against Barcelona alone, with three of his last four dismissals coming in El Clasico over the past three years.
Needless to say, the Real Madrid captain has missed a fair chunk of game time as a result of suspensions, having been shown a red in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League alike in his decade at the Santiago Bernabeu club.
But which have been the most costly, to Ramos and to Los Blancos?
We've looked into the context surrounding all 22, not just the end result of the fixture he was sent off in but also the title race that season, the next games he missed and what happened in the competition in question, to find out which were the most inadvisable dismissals of Ramos' career...so far.
6. Espanyol, 2005
Kicking off our top six, we go all the way back to 2005 and Ramos' first red in a Real Madrid shirt.
Having signed from Sevilla that summer, it took the youngster just two league appearances to give a sign of what was to come, being sent off for two yellows against Espanyol in La Liga.
Having already been booked and with his team 1-0 down thanks to a goal from the late Dani Jarque, the then-19-year-old Ramos earned himself a second yellow in the last few minutes to end any real hopes Madrid had of snaring a late equaliser.
Julio Baptista then also saw red as Real suffered a second straight defeat in the league; they'd go on to finish second in the table that season, 12 points behind champions Barcelona.
Perhaps it was inexperience, perhaps it was frustration; whatever the reason, Ramos never quite seems to have learned from that first occasion of seeing red.
5. Barcelona, 2010
Unsurprisingly, given what tends to be at stake when the sides meet in El Clasico, several of Ramos' costliest red cards have come against Barcelona.
Taking up fifth spot is the defender's dismissal in 2010, another late red shown as the humiliation of a manita proved all too much for the No. 5 to take.
Playing at right-back, Ramos had a torrid game as Barcelona ran riot in a 5-0 win, with his direct opponent—David Villa, off the left of Barca's attacking line—netting twice. Then Villa went off, Bojan came on...and he set up the fifth.
Ramos took down Villa for the first yellow and then clattered Lionel Messi for another foul, which kicked off a swarm of players shoving each other, culminating in Carles Puyol magnificently hurling himself to the deck and Ramos receiving his marching orders.
Madrid only lost a further three matches in league play that season, but the damage was done in that fixture, with Barcelona going on to win the title by four points.
4. Osasuna, 2013
The final one of a disturbing four dismissals in the calendar year of 2013 saw Ramos receive his marching orders in the first half against Osasuna midway through the 2013-14 campaign.
His team had started horrendously: the relegation candidates, who would indeed go down that year, took an early lead that was doubled before the 40-minute mark. Not to be outdone, Ramos picked up two yellows in the space of 12 minutes before half-time and the skipper was off for an early bath.
Real rallied in the second half—as you might expect against lesser opposition—but having a man fewer for an entire half had too much impact to turn things around for a three-point haul. Isco and Pepe both netted, the latter in the final minutes, but there was no late winner for Madrid.
How important was it? Well, a single point more would have seen Real finish second above Barcelona in the league. And had they been that one step closer to Atletico Madrid, who won the league by three points, perhaps the end-of-season run that yielded just one win in four would have been somewhat more focused.
Being captain—Iker Casillas was on the bench—clearly had little impact on Ramos reigning in his aggression and poor decision-making, with a wild swing of the arm connecting with his opponent's face for the second yellow.
It was his 18th red card in Real Madrid colours.
3. Barcelona, 2012
Into the podium places and third place goes to Ramos' Copa del Rey dismissal in El Clasico.
As if matches between the rivals weren't fraught enough, the two sides met in the quarter-finals of the cup, with whichever team that emerged victorious naturally set to be huge favourites in the last four.
Barca won the first leg in the Santiago Bernabeu 2-1, meaning Madrid needed a huge performance in the second leg at the Camp Nou. The game swung back and forth, with the home side going two up before a tremendous comeback saw Real net twice in four minutes to equalise on the night.
A single further strike would have sent Real through to the semis on away goals, but instead of having his injury-time impact by scoring, Ramos intervened in his other trademark manner.
An elbow to Sergio Busquets ended his involvement and any late hopes Los Blancos had of completing a stunning turnaround. Real Madrid crashed out, and Barcelona went on to the final where they duly beat Athletic Club Bilbao 3-0 at the Vicente Calderon.
2. Barcelona, 2017
Fast-forward to the present day and it's deja vu all over again, with Ramos heavily involved throughout in El Clasico on Sunday.
It was he who initially hit the post in the buildup to the game's opening goal, notched by Casemiro, before failing to cut out a pass from Ivan Rakitic to Messi for the equaliser.
Then came Ramos' big moment: With 77 minutes on the clock, his team 2-1 down and chasing an equaliser, Messi running free at him across the halfway line, Ramos sprawled into the tackle, off the deck and with two feet out. There wasn't much in the way of contact, but it was a ludicrous, out-of-control lunge, and the red card was inevitable—No. 22 on the list.
James Rodriguez equalised, but Messi had the final say, netting the winner in the final seconds of added time as Real failed to hold out with one man fewer on the pitch.
El Clasico was lost, Real's lead at the top of the table evaporated and the head-to-head between the two sides went comfortably in Barca's favour.
Just how costly the red will prove to be will only be known at the end of the season; if Barcelona go on to overhaul Real by the time 38 matches have been played, Ramos must live with the knowledge that he again cost his team.
If Barca go on to win La Liga, this red card will—without doubt—be the costliest of Ramos' absurdly enormous collection.
1. Barcelona, 2014
La Liga isn't lost just yet, however. Real Madrid still have a game in hand, and even a point there will see them back on top, untouchable by Barcelona or anyone else—if they win the rest of their matches.
It's possible Los Blancos go on and do exactly that, and Ramos will end the season as the man who lifts the trophy instead of as the villain.
Therefore, for now, Ramos' most costly red card is without question his Clasico dismissal in 2014.
With nine games to play in 2013/14, Real sat top of the table. They were three points clear of Atletico, a further one ahead of Barcelona and unbeaten in 19 La Liga matches—since a defeat to Barca earlier in the season.
A pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu was 2-2 at the break, and Real went back ahead through Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty shortly after the restart. If they held out, Real would have both the head-to-head edge over their great rivals and, more importantly, a seven-point advantage that would essentially end the Catalan side's title challenge at that stage of the season.
But then came Ramos.
The defender failed to cut out a through pass to Neymar, who ran across him in receiving the ball, and the Spain international clipped the forward's heels just enough to convince the referee that there was an obstruction.
Foul, penalty and red card immediately followed, with Messi scoring both that spot-kick and another late on to seal a turnaround 4-3 victory for Barca.
The gap at the top was gone, with Atletico Madrid having also won and displaced Real, and Los Rojiblancos remained there—with Barca also eventually leapfrogging Ramos and Real, who ended the season in third place.
Real haven't won La Liga since, and Ramos will be desperately hoping his latest misdemeanour hasn't cost his side the chance to do so yet again.