Real Madrid are God's team – Ramos

The centre-back believes the Champions League winners are the “team of the world” as they bid to be crowned the best side on the planet


By Peter Staunton in Marrakech

Sergio Ramos has labelled Real Madrid “God’s team” after being questioned over the Pope’s allegiance to Club World Cup final opponents San Lorenzo.

The head of the Catholic Church has supported the Argentine side – who lifted the Copa Libertadores to qualify for the tournament – since his youth, but the Madrid defender believes his side have divine powers.

“The way I believe I am a Christian, but in football it does not usually help much,” he said ahead of Saturday’s game.

“In the semi-finals we noticed the love from supporters in Marrakech and it seemed like we were playing at home. That sums up the greatness of this team. Madrid is God’s team and the team of the world. In Argentina all Argentines love football with a passion. We will try to give joy to all Madridistas, but the Pope is supporting San Lorenzo!”

Ramos intends to play despite being struck down by a thigh injury in the semi-final against Cruz Azul. 
The Spain international returned to Madrid training on Friday after missing Thursday’s session in order to undergo a recovery session at the team’s hotel. 

He was replaced during the second half against the Mexicans after opening the scoring but is determined to take part in a tournament that he has never won before. 

“The feelings of the past two days have been good and positive,” he said. “There is a training session today, we have to assess how I’m feeling. Today, I’m not that concerned. I’ll progress step by step, match by match. 

“This is a special moment because we are playing a final and I’ve never played this final before. That’s my motivation. But if there’s a great risk you have to take it seriously but we’re going to train and we’ll see how I’m feeling.”

Meanwhile, Real coach Carlo Ancelotti has given his other injury concern James Rodriguez a clean bill of health ahead of the final at the Stade de Marrakech, but was cautious over the selection of Ramos.

“James has no risk,” he said. “He’s been training since Wednesday, he feels well. He has no major injury. He’s fully recovered.

“Sergio had a problem but this muscle injury is not that severe. We have to assess his training, we have to talk to him and see how he is feeling. The decisions of the medical staff are important.”

Neither Ancelotti nor Ramos would be drawn on the current controversy over the appointment of the officials for the final. 

The San Lorenzo president, Matias Lammens, suggested on Wednesday that Madrid would favour Portuguese official Pedro Proenca and the Argentine camp also described Pepe as a “violent” player. The Guatemalan Walter Lopez will take charge of the fixture.

“We don’t mind who the referee is,” the centre-back added. “We hope that the referee officiates properly. I don’t want to create any conflict or discussion. Any team would want Pepe, he’s one of the best defenders in the world.”

Ancelotti added:”We are focusing on playing well. Everything else around the game doesn’t interest us. I don’t even know the name of the referee.”

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12 2014
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Diego Lopez: I couldn't stay at Real Madrid once Navas arrived

The goalkeeper claims he knew his position at the club would become untenable once the Costa Rica international was signed, prompting his move to AC Milan


Diego Lopez has explained that he knew his Real Madrid days were over when Keylor Navas was signed during the summer.

The goalkeeper was the European champions’ first choice in La Liga last season, but Carlo Ancelotti opted to allow the former Villarreal man to join AC Milan once Navas was brought in from Levante following his impressive World Cup and club performances in 2013-14.

Lopez confessed that he suspected his Santiago Bernabeu career was over following the deal for the Costa Rican as his position would become untenable alongside both Navas and Iker Casillas.

“When it was just me and Iker Casillas the situation was sustainable, but when they signed Keylor I understood my situation would worsen,” he told Tuttosport.

“Carlo Ancelotti and [Real Madrid goalkeeping coach] Villiam Vechi helped me with the decision to go to Milan  – they spoke highly of the club and it was a good opportunity for me.”

Lopez has played eight times for Filippo Inzaghi’s men in 2014-15, after struggling with an injury during the early part of the campaign.

Navas, on the other hand, has struggled to usurp Casillas between the sticks at Madrid and has made just five appearances in all competitions.

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12 2014
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Real Madrid – San Lorenzo Preview: Casillas set for landmark appearance in final

The goalkeeper will make his 700th club appearance should he start the Club World Cup final as Carlo Ancelotti’s side aim to finish 2014 on a high


Goalkeeper Iker Casillas is set to make his 700th Real Madrid appearance in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against San Lorenzo.

Uefa Champions League winners Real booked their place in the final in Marrakech with a 4-0 victory over Cruz Azul, while South American champions San Lorenzo required extra time to see off Auckland City 2-1.

Casillas has reclaimed his place in the Real first team this term, having fallen out of favour in recent seasons, and the 33-year-old believes he is beginning to rediscover his best form.

“I don’t think I have anything to prove – what I’ve done in my career is there for everyone to see,” he told FIFA.com. “By playing games I’ll hopefully get my confidence back to where it used to be, which is what excites me more than anything.

“I feel on a high.”

Casillas saved a Gerardo Torrado penalty with Real 2-0 up in their semi-final – a moment coach Carlo Ancelotti described as key in his side’s progression – and the Spain international agrees that there could have been a different outcome had he conceded.

“If it had gone to 2-1, it might have been a whole different ball game,” he continued. “Goalies always try to help their team at crunch moments like that.

“Luckily I dived the right way and I’m happy because the team were able to relax and see it out comfortably.”

The result has given Casillas a second chance to lay his hands on one of the only pieces of silverware yet to grace his bulging trophy cabinet, having finished fourth with Real as a 19-year-old in 2000.

“I played in this tournament 14 years ago, but I wasn’t able to win it,” he added. “I hope to win the title now because it would mean another photo for the history books, both for Madrid and for me personally.

“There’s nothing more satisfying for a player than bringing more joy to this club.”

Real Madrid are enjoying a winning run of 21 matches in all competitions – three short of the world record held by Curitiba – but Casillas knows the sequence must end somewhere.

“Winning 21 games in a row is very difficult, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and be mindful that this run won’t last forever,” he said. “One day a defeat or draw will come, but we’re not thinking beyond Saturday’s match and getting win number 22.

“What’s important is for us to win on Saturday because if we don’t, I can guarantee you that all the headlines in the papers will look different.”

Sergio Ramos, who this week denied claims he was looking to leave Real, is set to feature, despite leaving the field injured during the semi-finals.

Though the odds are stacked against San Lorenzo following their stuttering semi-final, striker Mauro Matos – who netted the winner – has not ruled out a shock triumph.

“They’re one of the top two teams in the world, if not the best, but it’s 11 against 11 on the pitch,” he said. “We know what we have to offer and we’re going to believe in ourselves.

“Anything could happen.”

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12 2014
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Tinelli: San Lorenzo can stun Real Madrid's 'billionaire team'

The Argentine club’s vice-president has hailed Los Blancos as the best team on the planet, but he firmly believes in football’s propensity for producing a shock


Marcelo Tinelli says that while San Lorenzo simply cannot compete with Real Madrid and their “billionaire team” on the field, the Argentines are capable of springing a surprise on it, in Saturday’s Club World Cup final.

Madrid are the reigning European champions, boast a squad full of ‘Galacticos, including current Ballon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo, and are in the midst of a 21-game winning streak in all competitions.

However, San Lorenzo vice-president Tinelli is a firm believer in the romance of ‘The Beautiful Game’ and thus feels that his side can upset the odds in Morocco.

“This is the story of a billionaire team against a lowly one,” he acknowledged. “Madrid are the best in the world.

“But remember that the story was the same at the World Cup when Argentina faced Iran.

“If [Argentina captain and match-winner] Messi hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t have won.

“That’s the beauty of football. And I think we are going to play a good match against Real Madrid.”

“A wish is to win the World Club Cup against Real Madrid. I do not ask more.”

San Lorenzo midfielder Julio Buffarini also added that he and his colleagues fully intend to savour the occasion.

“It has been my dream to win the World Club Cup against Real Madrid,” he admitted. “I could not ask for more.”

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12 2014
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'Chicharito will not leave Real Madrid' – agent

The Mexican’s representative has scotched rumours that the 26-year-old will cut short his season-long loan stay at the Santiago Bernabeu due to a lack of game time


Javier Hernandez will not leave Real Madrid in January, according to the striker’s agent.

The Mexico international is on a season-long loan from Manchester United, with a view to a permanent transfer at the end of the 2014-15 campaign, but he has struggled to earn playing time due to the fine form of Blancos forward Karim Benzema.

This had led to speculation that he might depart during the winter transfer window, but Eduardo Hernandez insists that there is no chance of his client cutting short his stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“Sometimes the media speculate too much and assume situations,” the agent is quoted as saying by AS. “He will not leave the club [in January].

“He is eager to play more minutes but he knows that hard work will open up more opportunities. He has his future ahead of him.

“Real Madrid are a team full of impressive players and obviously to earn a spot is difficult, but Javier has a great quality in working hard, like he has since the first day, and this is his quality.”

Furthermore, Chicharito’s representative insisted that no decision will be taken on the player’s future before next summer.

“If Madrid do not exercise the option to buy it will not be until the end of the season,” the agent added. “In any case, we have to consult with the board of Manchester United to know what the future holds for Chicharito.”

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12 2014
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