Two of the best defenders on the planet. Their partnership is a major reason for Spain’s international success over the past decade. However, on a club level, they’re sworn enemies. Rivalry doesn’t come any bigger than Real Madrid and Barcelona. While attacking talent like Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez and Bale typically steal the limelight, Pique and Ramos provide the solid foundations for the show to happen. Both defenders play with passion, intensity and most impressively, a high level of skill. With ‘El Classico’ less than three weeks away, we’re asking the question, Ramos V Pique: who is the better defender?
Ramos V Pique: The case for Ramos
Whenever Real Madrid score a last minute goal, it’s very likely that Ramos has gotten on the end of a corner. The cornerstone of Los Blancos’ defence has popped up with injury time equalisers and winners too many times to mention here. His most famous goal came in the 94th minute of the Champions League Final. The engraver must have already started on the ‘A’ of ‘Atletico’ before Ramos brilliantly headed home.
There’s more than just goals to Ramos’ game. Stopping attacking talent is his forte. Ramos has averaged 2.3 tackles per game over the past 8 seasons. Pique has only managed 1.8 per game over the same period. He also averages 2.5 interceptions per game versus Pique’s 1.8. This season, Ramos is actually averaging 2.4 interceptions per game, while Pique is seemingly slowing with age, coming in at 1.6.
STATS POINT TO ONLY ONE WINNER
It’s also worth noting that Ramos simply blows Pique away when it comes to attacking ability. Gone are the days when a defender’s passing and scoring stats were overlooked. Ramos isn’t a “ave it!” defender lumping balls in to Row Z. In fact, 10 goals in 40 games across all competitions this season would be impressive for a midfielder, let alone a centre back. Pique has only managed 4 in 46 games. Perhaps most impressive of all is Ramos’ passing ability. He has averaged 0.5 key passes per game over the past 8 seasons. Pique? 0.2 is the inevitable answer.
Barca fans are fiercely loyal, so it would be difficult for them to agree that Ramos is indeed the better defender. They really should, though. This isn’t ‘Messi v Ronaldo’ or ‘Neymar v Bale’. Comparing defenders is easier. Ramos is clearly the superior player at both ends of the pitch. The statistics and game-altering moments prove it beyond doubt.
Ramos v pique: tHE CASE FOR Pique
The biggest mistake of Alex Ferguson’s career wasn’t letting Paul Pogba’s contract expire. It was the decision to sell Gerard Pique back to Barcelona. Perhaps there were justifiable reasons at the time, but Fergie decided than Johnny Evans was a better bet. Everyone makes mistakes, even the most celebrated manager in Premier League history.
Once Pique returned to Camp Nou, he established a fearsome partnership with Carlos Puyol. No better defensive education could have been received. Puyol has his limitations (pace being a major problem) but he more than made up for this in other departments. Pique learned how to be a classy, skillful part of Guardiola’s revolutionary team. While Ramos was struggling with Real, Barcelona were destroying everyone around them.
DEFENDING IN A TEAM FOCUSED ON ATTACK
Over the past few years, Pique has had the disadvantage of not having an established centre back beside him. Since Puyol retired, Mascherano – a makeshift defender – has played in his new role. This has increased the pressure on Pique but the elegant defender has easily dealt with it. Furthermore, Barca have continue to lift numerous trophies during this time.
Much has been made of Ramos’ tacking and aggression. Let’s be clear; Ramos can be a dirty player. While Pique has 8 yellows from 46 matches this season, Ramos has 12 from 40 games. Over the past 8 seasons, Ramos has picked up an incredible 106 yellow cards and 10 red cards. Real also receive preferential treatment at times from referees so the numbers probably should have been even higher. Pique has 73 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. While Pique wins the ball fairly, Ramos takes man, ball, corner flag and anything else in his way.
1 Premier League. 6 La Ligas. 4 Copa Del Reys. 5 Spanish Supercups.3 Champions Leagues. Let the stats speak for themselves. While the critics go crazy for ‘MSN’, real football fans understand that a team can’t win anything without defensive foundations. Pique manages to keep a Barcelona team defensively sound when their only intention is to attack. That’s a marvelous achievement in itself. And, if you still need convincing, sure, he’s married to Shakira!
Photo by Jan S0L0
Photo by NathanF