Euro 2012 Man of the Day: Sergio Ramos
He may not be as likeable as the ultra-cool Andrea Pirlo, but Spain’s Sergio Ramos showed he is in possession of similar sized balls against Portugal last night.
As it was following Italy’s victory over England on Sunday night, all the reaction to last night’s snoozefest/fascinating tactical battle between Spain and Portugal centred on one penalty, but in this case, it was the penalty that never was as opposed to one that took place during the shoot-out.
After the game, Cristiano Ronaldo came in for scathing criticism for his failure to step up to the plate. Now Ronaldo deserves criticism for a lot of things, but he didn’t do anything wrong last night; he was selected by the Portuguese manager to take the fifth penalty, but it never got that far.
Some of the more hysterical reaction to the shoot out seemed to suggest that he was entirely responsible for Portugal’s exit. conveniently ignoring the fact that he had almost singlehandedly dragged them to the semi-finals in the first place.
In any case, all the focus on Ronaldo meant that Sergio Ramos’ cool as f*ck panenka penalty missed out on the acclaim it deserved. To say it took balls to pull off what the Real Madrid defender did last night was an understatement.
After all, this is a guy whose penalty in the shoot-out against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final was so bad that it was nearly on a par with Charlie Adam’s hilariously terrible effort in the Carling Cup Final. What’s more, it was Spain’s fourth penalty and had he missed, Spain would have been virtually assured of exiting the competition and as well as that, goalkeepers will have been extra wary about the threat of a panenka after Pirlo’s nerveless effort on Sunday night.
Ramos doesn’t look like a guy who overthinks things so all of that probably wasn’t going through his head as he made the long walk from the halfway line, even though he has admitted since that he had planned to do the panenka in advance. Easy to say that afterwards when it comes off, you might say, but we’re inclined to believe Ramos in this instance.
Anyone who’s watched the Clasicos of recent seasons may not be a huge fan of Ramos as along with Pepe and Sergio Busquets, he’s been a chief contributor to some of the nastier elements that have dogged those games, but he was immense in general play last night and his outmuscling of none other than Ronaldo at one stage showed how much he was in command.
Spain might not be everyone's cup of tea at the moment, but they have conceded one goal in five games at the tournament so far and Ramos can take a lot of credit for that defensive solidity. He's a well-deserving winner of today's McCoy's Man of the Day award.