Clubs, Mariano Barbosa, Real Madrid, Story, UEFA Champions League

With a goal for Real Madrid in every competitive game, the FC crew examine what’s led to Gareth Bale’s sublime start to the season.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos picked up a record 37th yellow card in 115 Champions League games in his team’s 3-0 Group G win over Roma on Wednesday.

Ramos, 32, passes former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes as the most cautioned player in the competition and also holds the record for the most yellow cards in a single Champions League campaign, picking up five bookings in the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons. Scholes, a notoriously clumsy tackler in his day, never earned more than four yellows in one campaign.

The Spain defender’s dubious record aside, it was a spectacular start to the three-time defending champions title defence, with Gareth Bale, Isco and returnee Mariano all scoring, the latter’s tally his first-ever in the Champions League.

Following the match, Mariano, who returned to Madrid in the summer window after the club bought him back following a single season with Lyon in 2017-18, said he was thrilled to open his UCL account for Real.

“I wasn’t nervous at all, I wasn’t in a hurry and I knew the day would come soon and I’m very happy with how it has gone,” said Mariano, who scored 18 goals for Lyon last season.

“I could hardly have asked for a better debut, at home and in the Champions League and scoring as well, and I’m very grateful to my teammates for helping it go as well as it did.”

Bale, who has now scored 10 goals in his last 10 games for Real Madrid, and Isco already had Los Blancos in front in a match in which they dominated the visiting Serie A side from start to finish before Mariano added the third. However, manager Julen Lopetegui preferred to talk about the team as a whole rather than individual performances from his two in-form stars following the match.

“We need to appreciate this win because Roma were a goal from reaching the Champions League final last season so we knew their quality and that they could make things complicated if we weren’t completely up for it,” Lopetegui told reporters.

“Fortunately we showed a lot of enthusiasm and energy from the start, we were excellent in attack and defence, created a lot of chances and were the worthy winners. Gareth had a great game but I won’t focus on one or two, I think the whole team played well on and off the ball, we had lots of chances.

“The second half was a bit too open, maybe, but Isco had a wonderful game in all aspects, on and off the ball sacrificing himself. I’m very happy with Isco but if I start to highlight individual players, I’ll have to mention [Luka] Modric, Toni [Kroos], [Casemiro], the midfielders and all the players.”

Lopetegui again refused to answer who his first-choice goalkeeper was and whether Keylor Navas, who had two strong saves in the match, would be the keeper for the entirety of the Champions League. Thibaut Courtois had started the previous two games but Navas was called upon to start against Roma, keeping his third clean sheet in a row.

“What I’ve said before is that whoever we pick will be a wonderful solution and I have nothing else to add to that,” he said.

Asked if Courtois was annoyed with being the best goalkeeper at the World Cup and then being dropped for Champions League games, Lopetegui said he has a very honest relationship with the Belgium international.

“It’s more natural than what you are suggesting among professionals,” he said. “We’re honest with each other and we tell the truth and there’s no problems at all.”

Information from ESPN contributor Robbie Dunne and Reuters was used in this story.

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