Why isn't Sergio Ramos playing against Ajax? Real Madrid captain's absence explained

Sergio Ramos Real Madrid 2018-19
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The veteran centre-back's actions in the first leg of the Champions League clash had a dim view taken over them by UEFA

Sergio Ramos is no stranger to controversy, but it has cost him the chance to play in Real Madrid’s Champions League last-16 encounter against Ajax on Tuesday due to a two-match suspension.

The Blancos captain, who stood accused of elbowing Lionel Messi during the weekend’s 3-0 Clasico defeat at the hands of Barcelona, made comments after the first leg of the knockout tie, which took place at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on February 13, which indicated he had deliberately picked up a booking.

Goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio gave the Spanish side a healthy 2-1 advantage to take home, but shortly after the winner, which was scored in the 87th minute, Ramos picked up a yellow card on the occasion of his 600th appearance.

It was a caution that took him over the disciplinary threshold and, therefore, triggered an automatic one-match ban, meaning he would miss a match in which his side were strong favourites.

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The 32-year-old, however, made ill-advised comments to the press after the game that saw UEFA open an investigation into his conduct.

“Looking at the result, I'd be lying if I said I didn't force the booking,” he told reporters after the game.

“It is not to underestimate the opponent nor to think that the tie is over, but in football you have to make tough decisions.”

Ramos later backtracked from his comments with a post on social media.

"I want to make it clear that it hurts me more than anyone. I have not forced the card, as I did not against Roma in my previous Champions League match,” he told his fans on Twitter.

"I will support from the stands as one more fan with the illusion of being in the quarters."

Sergio Ramos yellow card Real Madrid Ajax Champions League

This was too little, too late for UEFA, which responded by stating: “A disciplinary investigation has been initiated based on Article 31(3) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations in connection with the statements made by Real Madrid player Sergio Ramos.

“Information in respect of this investigation will be made available in due course.”

Article 31(3) falls under the banner of ethics and discipline in the game and indicates that appointed inspectors have the power to “initiate disciplinary investigations”.

On February 26, less than two weeks after the first leg, Ramos was charged by UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) and two days later its verdict was known.

“The CEDB has decided to suspend the Real Madrid CF player Sergio Ramos for two UEFA competition matches for which he would be otherwise eligible for clearly receiving a yellow card on purpose. The two-match suspension includes the automatic one-match suspension for the repeated cautions,” a statement from UEFA read.

It means that Ramos is banned for Real Madrid’s return leg against Ajax but it will also ensure that he misses the first match of the quarter-finals should the three-time defending champions progress as anticipated.

The news is grounds for confidence for Ajax, whose boss, Erik ten Hag, said: “Sergio is the boss on the pitch and in the backline.

“His absence is not only a tactical loss for them, but also mentally.

“His absence is a loss to Madrid. It is clear that without Ramos they are not going to be a better team.”

Which players have been suspended for deliberately picking up bookings?

Ramos is not the first player to have picked up a ‘tactical’ booking to allow him to miss a match and, therefore, reduce the risk of sitting out a more meaningful encounter due to a ban.

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Madrid team-mate Dani Carvajal was adjudged to have been guilty of the same offence when he wasted time in the final minute of a 6-0 win over APOEL, with that suspension meaning that he missed a meaningless group match against Borussia Dortmund.

Additionally, Valencia midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia was handed a similar sentence last month for having been deemed to have deliberately picked up a second booking in a Europa League first-leg encounter against Celtic in which his side were winning 2-0.

Valencia progressed through that tie and Ramos will hope his Madrid team-mates can enjoy a similarly stress-free passage through to the last eight.