Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has defended Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos, with the Spanish defender continuing to attract heavy criticism following a challenge which threatened to rule Liverpool star Mohamed Salah out of this summer's World Cup.
Speaking with Spanish outlet AS, Kroos said: “I'm sure that there was no deliberate intention to injure him. The ref didn't even blow for a foul.
"Ramos isn't an aggressive player. He has shown many times in the past that he isn't. I'm really glad that he's our captain; I didn't see anything that could be classed as anti-sporting behaviour."
Kroos' comments were the subject of widespread derision on social media, with many football fans quick to point to Ramos' rather spotty disciplinary record. The Spanish defender has received 26 red cards in his playing career, holding the record for the most times a Madrid player has been given his marching orders.
Toni Kroos is delusional— #BARCA❤ MESSI❤CECILIA (@Cecilia62697503) June 6, 2018
Football fans around the globe - though especially in Merseyside and Egypt - held their breath after Salah was forced to be substituted half an hour into last month's Champions League final, with Ramos appearing to grapple with the forward in a challenge which dislocated Salah's shoulder.
Madrid captain Ramos, however, has been unfazed by the allegations of unsporting behaviour against him, saying earlier this week: “They’ve given this a lot of attention, the Salah thing.
“I didn’t want to speak because everything is magnified. I see the play well, he grabs my arm first and I fell to the other side, the injury happened to the other arm and they said that I gave him a judo hold.
"After the goalkeeper said that I dazed him with a clash with me I am only missing Firmino saying that he got a cold because a drop of my sweat."
In spite of his extensive history of disciplinary issues, Ramos has made over 500 appearances for Madrid and is considered one of the greatest defenders of his generation. He has also made 151 appearances for Spain and will captain the national side at the World Cup this month.