Sergio Ramos and the triple-error penalty

The question I was asked most yesterday was: "Why did Sergio Ramos take the penalty?" Boldness, would be my answer. In an attempt to compensate for how bad he was in the equaliser for 1-1. Cesc had the ball in hand, Silva was close by. Iniesta was also willing to step up. And there were also two regular penalty takers for their teams on the field, Aduriz and Bruno. But Sergio Ramos claimed the responsibility and failed. Football, despite being ultra-professional can still allow for elements of improvisation. Sometimes you have a fixed specialist, but what if he’s hurt or not feeling confident in himself? In these situations it is accepted that he who can handle the most pressure will step up.

Ramos stepped forward boldly but missed.

Sergio Ramos has character, so he went forward. He’s not bad at spot kicks, he offers no less of a guarantee than others, but as they say, “you can only miss if you dare to take it” and in this case there were others who were in better form than Ramos, but he pushed in. His passiveness in the Croatian first goal added to the miss which, in his only possible defence, could at least be shared with those who decided on the goal. Did the officials not see how far Subasic strayed from his goal-line? One can only wonder how a referee, assistant referee and additional assistant referee behind the goal allowed it. One thing is turning a blind eye to the goalkeeper stealing 20 centimetres, it’s another thing entirely when half the six-yard area is swallowed up.

Croatia's goalkeeper Danijel Subasic narrowed the angle significantly.

And with all of this, it was a penalty that shouldn’t have been awarded. A single play with three successive errors that left us in a bad state. These things happen in football, as well as many others when Lady Luck is on your side or fighting against you. The finish line was in sight at 1-1, the whole team had pushed forward leaving space in behind for a ruthless counterattack in which Perisic sent us to the dark side. “We have gone from the Madrid path to the Atléti one”, an Atlético fan told me yesterday, alluding to the recent Champions League runs. In football, optimism and pessimism are separated by a very fine line.

Gianluigi Buffon and Italy await Spain in the next round.