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Ancelotti needs rethink after Ramos experiment fails

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Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos in action with Juventus' Arturo Vidal. Reuters / Giorgio Perottino play Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos in action with Juventus' Arturo Vidal. Reuters / Giorgio Perottino
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By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will have to rethink his tactics ahead of the Champions League return leg after Sergio Ramos came unstuck in an experimental midfield role in the semi-final clash with Juventus.

Acclaimed as one of the game's best centre-halves, Ramos looked like a fish out of water in the middle of the pitch in their 2-1 first leg defeat on Tuesday both defensively in front of the backline and most noticeably in building play.

"I am here to help the team wherever I can," Ramos told reporters.

"The other day it worked out for me (in midfield) but this was a bad game on a personal and a group level. I have confidence in the coach and I was ready to sacrifice myself for the team.

"I have to run a lot more than in central defence but that is not a big worry for me. We have to be self-critical and learn from our mistakes."

Real have suffered an injury crisis in recent weeks that led Ancelotti to look at different options in midfield to cover for the absence of Luka Modric as he was not convinced by the obvious choices of Asier Illarramendi and Lucas Silva.

Ramos was a surprising but effective solution in midfield as Real overcame neighbours Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of Europe's elite competition but it is a strategy that has not always worked.

He was able to impose himself physically against Atletico but against more mobile midfielders, who pressure him in possession, he is less effective.

Last weekend against Sevilla in La Liga, Real did triumph in the end but Ramos did not look comfortable and Juventus had clearly done their homework.

Arturo Vidal, in particular, hassled him on the ball and his distribution was poor, while there was often a gap behind him which Carlos Tevez, coming deeper, fully exploited.

However, despite the defeat, Ramos is confident that the reigning champions can turn around the result in front of their home fans at the Bernabeu next week.

"In this game nothing went for us. I think that anyone would readily accept our situation now," he said.

"We are one goal away from the final and we will play the game in our stadium although this does not take away the fact that this was a bad game."

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