FOREIGN TIT BITS 

Madrid’s new best defender and penalty taker is Ramos


Sergio Ramos, with his physical, intimidating style, has long had the reputation of dominating the area. Now the Real Madrid defender, who infamously holds the Spanish league record of 19 career red cards, can also claim to be among the best when stepping up to the penalty spot.

Ramos has made all eight spot-kicks he has been taken this season. His latest penalty re-established Madrid’s advantage for good in its 3-1 in the Madrid derby on Saturday. The goal was part of a commanding performance by Ramos, who also set up Casemiro’s opening goal by jumping higher than three opponents and anchored a defense that conceded very few scoring chances to an Atletico Madrid lineup that hadn’t lost at home all season.

“I take the responsibility (of taking penalties) with immense pleasure,” Ramos said after the victory that lifted Madrid past Atletico and into second place in the league behind Barcelona. “We can only hope that there are many more to come and I keep up my good run of converting them.”

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus last summer gave Ramos the chance to show off his penalty-taking skills. Ramos doesn’t just rely on pure power, but he often opts for the finesse of the “hesi” kick, when the penalty-taker fools the goalkeeper into moving first by hesitating before softly scooping the ball down the middle.

Explicitly, his strike from the penalty spot against Atletico’s Jan Oblak was expertly slotted just between the post and the goalkeeper’s outstretched gloves. It was Ramos’s 11th goal of the season, setting a new personal record for goals scored in a season and it’s far from over. His previous best was ten goals in 2016-17.

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