Red Card or Not: Sergio Ramos in El Clasico

First of all, despite what Cristiano Ronaldo says, El Clasico referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco actually had a good match.

He stayed calm and centered and played the kind of advantage that allowed such a high scoring game in the first place. He kept the game flowing. Even when the players tussled, he seemed completely unruffled, standing back patiently while they tired themselves out. (“Okay, kids, when you’re ready I’m standing over here with the cards.”)

But, of course, what everyone’s talking about is the red card to Sergio Ramos that “ruined the match.”

To set the stage for today’s edition of Red Card or Not, note that this is the first red card Undiano has brandished all season. It’s Ramos’ nineteenth of his La Liga career. (Nineteenth!) So, we’re not talking an innocent little flower here.

There are two main issues: Was Neymar really in a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and was there really contact?

Was he clear on goal? Neymar had his back to goal when he went down, so no denial of goal scoring opportunity, right? I disagree. If you look at this GIF from, Neymar is clearly one-on-one with the goalkeeper, with the defenders behind him.


He only turns away from goal when he starts to fall. So, if there’s contact, this is a clear DOGSO. Which brings us to:

Was there contact? I watched this two dozen times, and was convinced that Ramos went in with both legs and caught Neymar mid-stride. I’m still not entirely convinced he didn’t. Most of the angles seem to support that theory. But then there’s this one:


There really doesn’t appear to be contact from this angle.

Which brings up an interesting point for all those screaming for video replays. It probably wouldn’t have helped. If some replays seem to say yes, and some say no, which one do you believe? If you’re a Real Madrid fan, you know which one you’d take, but how does the referee make that call?

Right now, I still say that Undiano made the best call he could. Ramos knew when he was going in that he was on shaky ground, even going so far as to say: “I stopped because I preferred 3-3 rather than a penalty and a sending off.”

Like so many red cards, it’s all up to Undiano’s judgment (which is pretty good). But it’s hard for me to ignore the above video playing over and over in my face, so I’m going to be a baby and say:

Red Card or Not: Inconclusive

Read Fansided’s take on it.


  • I thought it was a red. Similar to Ivanovic on Young early last season. Doesn’t take much to tangle someone’s stride by tapping their ankle in stride. Unfortunately it changed the entire complexion of the game despite Ramos not looking like he intended on doing that.


    • You’re probably right. Looking at it from behind again, it is possible Ramos’ knee hit him. It is a shame, but Ramos does find himself in these situations, doesn’t he?


      • Yeap. I think the contact was very minor but that’s all it takes for a foul. A shame too since RM was giving FCB a good fight until then.


        • Yes, it would have been better all around for Ramos – who was beaten – to take his chances and let Neymar go head to head with the goalkeeper who was coming out. The gk had options; the only options open to Ramos were bad ones…


  • I’ve been looking at the back one and i noticed That Ramos kicks Neyman to the base of his foot, thats why he falls, i think it intentional, he has all those years of experience to him so he knows how to do it undetectibly.

    P.S. Great blog, added to bookmarks 🙂


    • Oh, thank you and welcome! I think you’re right, Walker. It goes to what I was saying about video replays. It actually caused me to doubt; what about a poor ref who has thousands of people screaming at him? There are times when it might do more harm than good…


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