Why Sergio Ramos Should Lose Starting Spot for Real Madrid

Alex Gruber@agruber6Featured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2013

Sergio Ramos celebrates his goal against Rayo, shortly before being sent off.
Sergio Ramos celebrates his goal against Rayo, shortly before being sent off.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid picked up a relatively comfortable 2-0 win Sunday against crosstown rival Rayo Vallecano. But despite the seemingly innocuous scoreline, this match was not without drama.

In the 18th minute, Madrid right back Sergio Ramos, who had scored a goal not six minutes earlier, picked up his second yellow card in less than a minute and was dismissed.

The offenses? A fairly light bump on Leo Baptistao that was made to look more severe by the Brazilian, and a somewhat unreasonable handball call as Ramos' arm was outstretched when it was struck by a cross, but was pinned well to his body with no intent.

In that sense, Ramos did not deserve his sending off. But deserving or not, this is now the Spaniard's 11th red card in his Real Madrid career, astonishing considering he has been with the team since 2005.

Still just 26 years old, Ramos has a long career ahead of him. But his consistent disciplinary issues will come back to bite both the player and his club at some point, especially with two clashes with Barcelona looming in the coming weeks.

Naturally a center back, Jose Mourinho deployed Ramos on the right, and he was effective enough in his cameo. But with a more solid defensive option available in Alvaro Arbeloa, perhaps Mourinho will look that way in preparation for El Clasico.

With Ramos returning from his impending suspension by then, perhaps he could slot in at his more natural central defense position. However, his position there is coming under heavy fire as well.

Notably, French phenom Raphael Varane has made a big name for himself in El Clasico already, and will likely be among the first names Mourinho plugs into his team sheet. And with the manager's compatriot, Pepe, back to full health, that will more than likely be the starting duo in front of Diego Lopez.

Varane in particular is a huge threat to Ramos' time as a consistent starter. His unreal performance at the Bernabeu last month set the stage for a new star at the back for Los Blancos, with even club legend Fernando Hierro lavishing the Frenchman with praise.

Additionally, Mourinho has reserve player Nacho Gonzalez waiting in the wings. The 22-year-old captains Real Madrid Castilla, but has already made a handful of appearances for the senior team in both the Copa del Rey and La Liga in a central defense position.

With the emergence of such viable young options at central defense, combined with the more consistent play of a healthy Pepe, Ramos could see his time in the middle limited sooner rather than later.

And with reasonable options available at right back, Ramos might find himself in an even wider position—on the other side of the touchline.