(Reuters) - Real Madrid sorely missed their intentionally absent captain Sergio Ramos as the defending champions were thrashed 4-1 at home by Ajax Amsterdam and crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday, manager Santiago Solari said after the defeat.
Ramos was suspended for the last-16 second leg after picking up a yellow card in their 2-1 victory in the Netherlands and had his ban doubled to two games by UEFA after the 32-year-old admitted he had deliberately tried to get booked.
The Spain international’s hopes of missing Tuesday’s match to reduce his chances of a ban ruling him out of a more important game later in the competition ended up looking like a spectacular miscalculation, however.
Ramos was forced to watch from the sidelines as, rather than take another step towards a fourth straight title, Real were torn apart by an exciting yet inexperienced Ajax side.
“Without talking badly about any of our players, of course we missed our captain,” Solari told Movistar.
Defeat heaped more pressure on Solari in his first season in charge of the club but the former Real midfielder said the outgoing champions should not push the panic button yet.
“Easy moments are easy for everyone, you can climb up and surf them, but difficult moments you have to show bravery,” the Argentine added.
“What we must do is remain as calm as possible in such a difficult moment and take it on with the best character. Madrid is bigger than any of us, it always returns and returns stronger.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney