Ramires’ importance to Chelsea ever increasing
Chelsea’s Brazil international Ramires is growing in stature at Stamford Bridge
Juan Mata’s ‘ghost goal’ has obviously the most talked about aspect of Chelsea’s otherwise emphatic FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
This is a shame, understandable, but a shame nonetheless because there was one very positive aspect of the game – well, for fans of the Stamford Bridge club anyway.
Didier Drogba was awarded man of the match on the day and he did play particularly well, but his Brazilian team-mate Ramires was, once again, fantastic.
The former Benfica midfielder received mixed reviews in his initial time at the club, but he has grown into one of the Blues most important players as this term has gone on.
One of Spurs’ biggest threats is Gareth Bale marauding down the left hand side, but his early effectiveness was nullified somewhat by Ramires’ covering for the rightly concerned looking Jose Bosingwa at right back.
The Brazil international’s ability to charge up and down Chelsea’ right flank has made him a necessity in recent weeks and has also accounted for Daniel Sturridge’s place in the starting XI.
The 25-year-old has been playing well for most of this season, but his hard work was previously confined to more central areas and he did not have the space to stretch his legs quite so much.
His subsequent repositioning to a wider position has helped him to show what he is really capable of.
Against Harry Redknapp’s men he was a constant thorn in the side of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, so much so that the usually attack-minded Cameroonian was forced to play a lot deeper than his normally does.
The sight of Ramires powering down the line is breath-taking at times, with his pace being coupled with so much power and drive.
The more conspicuous parts of his work are done in a defensive capacity merely because of his desire to chase back and his ability to break a game up – though he also poses a huge threat when Chelsea do counter-attack.
Coincidentally, it was against his former club that his efforts were most noticeable, where the west Londoners caretaker boss Roberto di Matteo realised his game plan for solidifying Chelsea could be far more effective with Ramires in a wider position.
The 1-0 first-leg victory in Lisbon was based on a resilient defensive display, but the offensive aspect of the game was based around the quick, hard-running midfielder on the right and Salomon Kalou on the left.
The speed at which they broke made Benfica’s increasingly higher position up the field more and more vulnerable – the danger of which was exemplified in the winning goal.
Fernando Torres played the final pass to Kalou to score, but it was the lung-busting run of Ramires that supplied the Spaniard with the ball.
Ramires’ stamina is astonishing and he continues to work hard right up until the final whistle, shown on numerous occasions in the last ten minutes on Sunday.
One area he needs to improve in is his goal scoring; he gets into good positions often enough, but does not convert chances well enough.
It was fitting that another great performance was capped off with a goal and the delicate manner in which he finished the chance suggests he is gaining composure as time goes by – something his opponents should be wary of.
Chelsea face a huge ask when they meet Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final tie and there will not be many betting on them to go through.
Whatever chance they do have, though, will have a lot to do with Ramires, their box-to-box dynamo.