Sergio Ramos is closer to the caps record, but at quite a price

It was a bad idea from the start. Sergio Ramos was part of the Spain squad this international week despite his recent fitness struggles - after all, he was forced to sit out Real Madrid’s last game before the break, against Celta Vigo. Yet he and Luis Enrique either felt the problem he was carrying wasn’t a major issue, or they prioritised his pursuit of the world caps record. Only they know which it is… though we can also make our own minds up from what happened next: Ramos played half of the first game and clearly wasn’t right; missed the second; and got a late cameo in the third that took him to 180 international appearances. He then joined those who didn’t play against Kosovo in some sprints, and promptly broke down.

Ramos should clearly have returned to Real Madrid like Kroos did

An unfortunate episode that stems from not making smarter decisions early doors. By contrast, just look at what happened with Toni Kroos: Ramos’ Madrid team-mate joined up with Germany, felt a groin problem, and returned to Spain. After that first half against Greece in which it was obvious he wasn’t fit, it would have been so much better if the defender had done the same. We don’t know what would have happened in that case; whether he’d have injured himself anyway. All we know is what happened in reality. Spain got very little out of his presence in the squad (a bad 45 minutes) and Madrid have paid a heavy price. In exchange for all that, he has moved from 178 to 180 caps as he chases down the record of 184.

Latest Ramos injury leaves Peréz in stronger position in contract talks

Madrid’s season is at stake in the three games that Ramos will now miss: both Champions League legs against Liverpool, and the LaLiga clash with Barcelona. For the first time, I’ve found Madridistas who are really fuming with him; exemplary in so many other things, he’s got this wrong and has chosen a bad time to do it. Having just turned 35 and with his future up in the air, Ramos has now picked up another injury and is on a run of physical setbacks that undermines his strongman, always-ready image. At the very least, he’ll have to accept that this strengthens Florentino Pérez’s hand in the game of poker the pair are currently engaged in. He’d be wise to take whatever Madrid are offering, just as Luka Modric has.