KEOWN: Varane is no Ramos as Real fell apart without their captain

MARTIN KEOWN: Raphael Varane is no match for Sergio Ramos as Real Madrid fell apart without their captain

  • Raphael Varane was all over the place as Real Madrid burned in Manchester 
  • The Frenchman is no match for his usual defensive partner Sergio Ramos 
  • Ramos watched on from the sidelines after getting sent off in the first leg 
  • Gabriel Jesus was impressive with his relentless running high up the field 

This was a very big night for Raphael Varane with Sergio Ramos not playing and he had a nightmare in that Real Madrid defence, with Zinedine Zidane’s side crashing out of the Champions League as a result. 

Both of Manchester City’s goals came from Varane making mistakes, but they also arrived because Gabriel Jesus was forever sniffing around Real’s defenders.

That’s what Pep Guardiola has his forwards do — they’re his first line of defence. For City’s first goal, Varane should have known better.

An embarrassing error from Raphael Varane gifted Raheem Sterling the opening goal

He or goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois should have sent out a long ball before Jesus had the chance to take it off them. For the second goal, he tries to head the ball, misses it, then one mistake leads to another and he gives Jesus another chance which the City man takes.

The modern-day centre half has to try to play, but Varane made the wrong choices here and it cost Real dearly.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was a vocal presence on the sidelines but was badly missed

City also made an interesting choice in their back line. On the substitutes’ bench was Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones and Eric Garcia.

On the field alongside Aymeric Laporte in Manchester City’s central defence was Fernandinho.

I admire the Brazilian greatly, but Real’s equaliser showed how you can get caught out when you’re not a specialist centre half. Karim Benzema was involved in the build-up to the goal, then he charged into the box.

Gabriel Jesus (left) was impressive with his relentless running high up the field

The striker has been in fine form this season, scoring 21 goals en route to Real winning the La Liga title, and knew to go between City’s centre backs.

But Fernandinho didn’t move. You want your central defender to spot the space and close the gap to stop Rodrygo’s cross from finding Benzema.

That left this game on a knife edge until Varane made his second mistake to gift City that all-important second goal.

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