Remember Sergio Ramos the right back? He was one of the best in the world out there, and maybe the best in the world. He could defend, both in space and in the box, better than most right backs and he was a real threat every time he got forward. With Ramos at right back, Real Madrid had an advantage over pretty much anyone else their opposition put out there.
You might not remember Ramos the right back, though. He's played center back almost exclusively this season, where he is usually competent, but hardly outstanding. Why exactly is one of the world's best right backs playing a position he is merely average at? That's a great question, but there is no good answer. Madrid are short of good centerbacks. That's the only honest answer, and considering the financial power and prestige of Madrid, for them to be so short of center backs that they have to play a right back as good as Ramos in the center is almost criminal.
Instead of having an exceptional right back against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, Real Madrid will have a center back who is going to be a target for the Bavarians. Yeah, Ramos is average in the center, but average center backs are liabilities. They make mistakes and Ramos is not immune to those mistakes.
A lot of Ramos' focus will be on Mario Gomez. The Bayern forward will be a handful for Ramos, but as soon as he is caught chasing Gomez around, Ramos will find himself in trouble. The channel between Ramos and left back Fabio Coentrao was exposed on several occasions a week ago and could be Bayern's way through in the second leg and onto the final.
Ramos is not bad, but he's a liability, as are all average center backs. He could be Madrid's downfall and the cause of their Champions League campaign coming to an end. Even if he is, though, the real fault will not lie with Ramos, but with Jose Mourinho. Ramos is not a center back, he is among the world's best right backs. Maybe, hopefully, Madrid will get their act together and make it possible for him to play there again next season.
We'll have pre-game and live game coverage in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.