Sergio Ramos was left cursing himself on Tuesday night as he watched on from the stands at the Bernabeu as his Real Madrid teammates crashed out of the Champions League in the first knockout round since way back in 2010.
Suspended for the second leg after what was later deemed to be a deliberate booking so he'd be clean for the quarter finals, it was a 'cunning plan' that even Edmund Blackadder would have been proud of. But what he didn't count on was Ajax putting in one of the best Champions League performances in recent memory to not only overturn the aggregate deficit from the first leg, but thoroughly embarrass Los Blancos on their own turf.
Real held a slender 2-1 advantage after their victory in Amsterdam last month, but Ramos threw caution to the wind and was duly booked, ruling him out of the second leg - seemingly a formality at home - but ensuring he wouldn't risk be ruled out of the quarter finals.
UEFA sussed it and tacked an extra game on to the suspension anyway.
Ajax performance tonight. Definitive Proof Karma does exist for Sergio Ramos after all?— roger bennett (@rogbennett) March 5, 2019
His absence on Tuesday proved to be decisive. Without their talisman at the back, a Real side already struggling after three home defeats on the spin going into the game fell apart. An underestimated Ajax smelled blood in the water and took full advantage.
Frenkie de Jong, already committed to fierce rivals Barcelona, and Dusan Tadic, deemed surplus to requirements at Southampton by Mark Hughes, were particularly masterful.
Up in the stands, Ramos was a popular target for photographers. But there were also other cameras trained on the four-time Champions League winner, catching every reaction. Ramos announced earlier this year that he will be the subject of a new Amazon Prime series and the documentary makers were with him in his private box during the game.
What a night for Sergio Ramos.— SBS - The World Game (@TheWorldGame) March 5, 2019
- Missed the 2nd leg because he got deliberately yellow carded in the 1st leg so he would be free to play in the QFs.
- Watched his side get knocked out for the first time since 2015.
- Was recording a documentary about himself in the Bernabeu. pic.twitter.com/8Ng1uVsSIg
Fan did not miss the irony of the situation, taking to social media to voice their opinion. Liverpool supporters were especially venomous, not forgetting the Ramos' role as the pantomime villain in last year's controversial final.
Given the disastrous season Real are having by their recent standards - Zinedine Zidane's decision to quit on a high last May is looking smarter by the day - it may not be the glossy and polished advertisement that Manchester City or Juventus, for Netflix, have been the subject of.
With Real out of Europe for 2018/19, Ramos' increased suspension will be extended into next season's competition. Let's just hope everyone remembers the ban and he doesn't trot out onto the pitch on matchday one next September.
It would be unlike Real to get kicked out of a tournament for fielding a suspended player anyway...