Spanish National Team captain Sergio Ramos has proven once again how much of a difference his presence can make on the pitch. He has shown his value many times over for Real Madrid CF, but this time around, he has shown once again just how important he is for La Furia Roja.

Spain manager Luis Enrique substituted Ramos in the second half of their 1-1 draw against Greece on Thursday. The move proved to be a game changer, as substitute Inigo Martinez made a crucial mistake just 10 minutes after taking over from Ramos. He gave away the penalty which resulted in the equaliser that salvaged the evening for the Greeks.

It was Alvaro Morata who scored the opening goal for La Roja just after the half-hour mark, but the Spaniards failed to hold on to the lead after Ramos left the pitch. Martinez brought down Giorgios Masouras, and the referee pointed to the spot. The Spaniards are crying about the call, but in the absence of a VAR review, there was nothing they could do.

The match ended in an unexpected 1-1 draw, and questions were raised about the fitness of Ramos. He had just undergone a knee operation in February, and just returned to action with Real Madrid before being called up for the international break. His early departure led fans to ask if he is suffering from another setback.

"Ramos is fine. We decided beforehand that he would only play the first half," assured Luis Enrique, who offered no further explanation. It is believed that the limited minutes may have been a compromise, knowing that Ramos is still in the fragile stages of recovery.

Unfortunately, Spain was not able to hold on to the lead, and critics are questioning the motives behind Ramos' substitution. Enrique insists that it was the team's overall performance that was to blame for the mediocre result. "We lacked freshness and finesse in the final third of the pitch. It's not my job to rate the draw. I don't think we deserved to draw. I think that 1-0 was fair. We were not up to the task of solving what the game demanded," he concluded.

Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI