The Bad Boys of the Champions League

Today we are taking on the toughest players in the history of the Champions League. Topping the “rogue gallery” of bad boys is Sergio Ramos, whose reputation has gone up a notch after that tackle on Mo Salah in the final of 2018. And Ramos did not hold back in the big Clasico either. Just ask Sergi Busquet or Luis Suarez.

Second place on the list belongs to the Swedish top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who once famously waited four years for a chance at a revenge foul against Marco Materazzi. Third, on the list is Edgar Davids who is probably a little less known to today’s football fans. Davids’ nickname was “The Pitbull” and he was the engine of the golden Ajax generation, ending his career at the age of 37- because he saw too many red cards.

Bad Boy Nr. 1: Sergio Ramos

Three years after the infamous final between Real Madrid and FC Liverpool, the discussions around this tackle on Mo Salah will not stop. Juve defender Giorgio Chiellini recently described it as one of Ramos’ “masterpieces”, the perfect no-look foul making the tackle look as if there was no intent.

Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, left, fouls Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah during the Champions League Final soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool

Mo Salah had had a brilliant first season at Liverpool, scoring a total of 44 goals in all competitions. In the final, he went down after a hard tackle from Sergio Ramos in the first half of the game. Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp heavily criticised the Real Madrid captain, accusing him of having brought down Salah “like a wrestler”. As a result, the Egyptian superstar suffered shoulder ligament damage, which forced him off the pitch, and the rest is history.

Bad Boy Nr. 2: Zlatan Ibrahimović

Three years ago, Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw his first red card as an LA Galaxy player for slapping his opponent Michael Petrasso in the face, because the Canadian winger had stepped lightly on his foot while walking backwards. Afterwards, Ibrahimovic was trying his best to draw attention to his own suffering by rolling around on the floor, but Referee Ismail Elfath ignored the show and sent the Swedish top scorer off the pitch.

May 11, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) battles for a header with New York City FC defender James Sands (16)

In total, Ibrahimovic received 16 yellow cards in his Champions League career, twice yellow-red and twice red. In Serie A he collected 40 yellow, two yellow-red and three red cards. No question about it, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not only known for his goals, but also for his antics and many fouls.

Bad Boy Nr. 3: Edgar Davids

Edgar Davids was one of the big ones in European football in the 90s. In 2013, the defender nicknamed The Pitbull ended his career because he got too many red cards.

For three consecutive years, Edgar Davids became the Dutch champion with Ajax Amsterdam under Louis van Gaal. Twice his team reached the Champions League final. In the 1994/95 season, it was finally enough to win the big title.

In his CL career, Edgar Davids saw 16 yellow and four yellow-red cards and therefore shares first place with Ramos and Ibrahimovic in the official “rogues gallery” of the Champions League.

What about Paul Scholes?

Paul Scholes played for Manchester United from 1994 to 2011. The 1.70 striker appeared in over 700 games and is to this day one of the most frequently booked players. But Scholes “only” saw 32 yellow cards and two times yellow and red in the Champions League, not enough to get him a spot in the “rogues gallery”.

Scholes was famous for mistiming his tackles and as a result, he saw lots and lots of cards but many times he got away with only a yellow like in the big Champions League final against FC Barcelona.

Man UTD were down 2-0 in the 80th minute when Scholes knocked over midfielder Sergio Busquets with full intention. The ball was long gone, Busquets fell to the ground with a pain-distorted face and Scholes saw yellow. Alex Ferguson was not impressed.

What about Oliver Kahn?

Two yellow cards in the Champions League are not enough for a place on our list. The situation is different for another German keeper Jens Lehmann, who has seen yellow three times and red once in the Champions League.

In total, Lehmann had to take an early shower seven times in his career, including in the CL clash against Barcelona, when he saw red after just 18 minutes for his emergency brake on Samuel Eto’o.