Sergio Ramos: Real Madrid not a team that enters into debates about referees

Sergio Ramos has stressed that Real Madrid prefer not to discuss refereeing performances in order to stay clear of any controversies in the wake of Sunday’s 2-2 La Liga draw away against Barcelona.

The Spain international feels that los Blancos should have been awarded a penalty for a foul on Mesut Ozil inside the Catalans’ area, but refused to judge referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro.

“He is a referee who I like. Ozil’s penalty seemed clear, but we are not a team that enters into debates about referees,” Sergio Ramos told reporters.

The defender then went on to voice his delight with Real Madrid’s performance and felt they perhaps deserved the full three points.

“We are happy about the team’s hard work and good display. We went out to play from the beginning, but we’re going home with a bittersweet feeling.

“If we had won it would not have surprised anyone, but these things happen in football. On other occasions we have acknowledged that Barcelona were better but that would not have been what happened on Sunday if we had won.”

Real Madrid sit fifth in La Liga following this weekend’s results, trailing joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by eight points.

Betting Special: Will it be an all-Spanish Champions League final?

Another Clasico and another two goals apiece from the world’s greatest footballers – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It’s easy to see why many are tipping Real Madrid and Barcelona to be contesting the Champions League final at Wembley in May.

The showdown very nearly took place earlier this year but Jose Mourinho’s side were denied on penalties by Bayern Munich after Chelsea had stunned Barca at Camp Nou.

The Catalan giants have taken the exit of Pep Guardiola in their stride and remain favourites for the trophy, while Jose Mourinho is as determined as ever to get his hands on the prize he won at Porto and Inter.

In fact, the biggest stumbling block to them meeting in the final is the possibility of the superpowers drawing each other in the knockout stages before then – as they did in 2011.

But with Malaga and Valencia also likely to be in the last 16, it may be worth backing an all-Spanish final at 3/1 with .

That last happened in 2000 when Real and Valencia clashed but you don’t have to go back that far for an all-British final – that happened in 2008 when Manchester United beat current champions Chelsea.

With four viable candidates for the crown in the Premier League – and Celtic making a push for the last 16 too – the all-British final might appeal at 11/2 with .

If you think that Britain’s best bet comes in the form of high-flying Chelsea and improving Arsenal then the price for an all-London final is worth a look at 33/1.

The same price is available for the scenario that may well be every Londoner’s worst nightmare come May 25th 2013 – the all-Manchester final in the country’s capital.

It would be the chance for sweet revenge for the red half of the city, while a dramatic win for the team in blue would threaten to top the events of last May. An all-Manchester final is also 33/1 with .

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Adam Bate is a professional freelance journalist who specialises in football and betting. He is editor of GhostGoal which can be found here – you can also follow Adam on

La Liga Round 7 Results: Athletic Bilbao edge out Osasuna, Valencia lose at Levante

More On :  Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Betis, Celta, Deportivo, Espanyol, FC Barcelona, Getafe, Granada, Levante, Malaga, Mallorca, Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano, Real Madrid CF, Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Valencia CF, Valladolid, Zaragoza

Two goals in the last 30 minutes from Iago Aspas and Enrique De Lucas gave Celta Vigo a 2-0 victory over Sevilla at Balaidos on Friday evening.

Alvaro Negredo showed signs of continuing his good form in the sixth minute when he lashed a strike at goal only to see it just go over the bar, but Celta grew into the match towards the end of the second half.

The home side eventually took the lead on the hour mark when Hedwiges Maduro handled in the area and a penalty was awarded. Aspas slotted home the penalty to give the hosts he lead. This catalysed Sevilla into action, with both Negredo and Jose Antonio Reyes coming close to the equaliser with long rang strikes.

However, the hosts weathered the storm and killed the game off five minutes from time when De Lucas latched on to Augusto Fernandez’s cross to head into the bottom corner.

Rayo bounced back from their 6-1 trouncing by Valladolid last weekend with a narrow 2-1 victory over Deportivo at Vallecas.

The home side got off to a good start and were able to take the lead in the 20th minute when recalled duo Leo and Piti linked up for the latter to latch on to a pass inside the area to turn the ball into the bottom right corner. Jose Carlos doubled the lead for the hosts just before the half-hour mark when his shot from the edge of the area deflected off Ze Castro into the bottom corner.

Deportivo were given a lifeline four minutes before half-time when Javi Fuego fouled Alex Bergantinos inside the area and Pizzi smashed the penalty home, but Rayo managed to keep the visitors at bay to gain their first win in five games.

A second-half penalty kick from Diego Castro gave Getafe their second win of the week with a tight 1-0 win over Real Zaragoza on Saturday night.

Zaragoza were on the back foot for the majority of the match after Romaric was sent off for a high tackle on Mehdi Lacen, which gave Getafe a man advantage.

The visitors eventually went in front in the 64th minute when Zaragoza went yet another man down after Alvaro Gonzalez brought down Pedro Leon inside the area. Castro squeezed the kick through Roberto Gago and into the net, giving Luis García Plaza’s men the win. 

An Oscar Gonzalez header for Valladolid in the last 10 minutes denied Espanyol their first win of the season as the honours were shared in a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening.

Neither side looked to be on-form in the first half, but Valladolid would have went into the break the happier team after Victor Alvarez earned his second yellow card just before the break to put Espanyol a man down.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Mauricio Pochettino’s men took the lead in the 70th minute when Antonio Rukavina pushed Samuele Longo inside the area and Joan Verdu converted the resulting penalty.

However, nine minutes from time Oscar got on the end of a near post flick-on to squeeze the ball over the line for his third goal in two games, ensuring the points were shared.

A goal in either half from Real Betis saw Pepe Mel’s side move up to fourth place in the Spanish Primera Division after a 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad at the Benito Villamarin.

Betis looked eager to bounce back from their run of consecutive defeats, and took the lead in the 17th minute when Juan Carlo’s cross into the six yard box was met by Paulao, who bulleted a header into the bottom corner.

Ruben Castro doubled the lead nine minutes from time when he nodded home Benat’s free kick, ensuring Betis ended the weekend in the Champions League positions.

A solitary goal from new signing Obafemi Martins gave Levante a vital 1-0 win over city rivals Valencia at Ciudad de Valencia on Sunday morning.

The hosts were unbeaten at home in La Liga prior to the match, and Valencia had previously failed to win on the road. Martins ensured this record was upheld in the 22nd minute when he latched on to Gustavo Munua punt upfield before controlling excellently and firing the ball past Vicente Guaita.

Roberto Soldado, Jonathan Viera, and Fernando Gago all had decent chances to equalise for the away side in the second half, but Juan Ignacio Martinez’s men held out for the three points.

Granada’s recent revival continued as they recorded an impressive 2-1 away victory at Mallorca.

All the goals arrived in the second half; Emilio Nsue was given his marching orders for bringing down Gabriel Torje inside the area, and Youssef El Arabi coolly converted the kick.

Torje himself netted a second as roles were reversed, El Arabi playing him through on goal to despatch confidently past Dudu Aouate.

Tomer Hemed provided a consolation for the Islanders, but Granada held on for their first away win of the campaign.

Athletic Bilbao bounced back from last week’s derby defeat to Real Sociedad by edging out Osasuna 1-0 at San Mames.

The Basque side have struggled for form so far this season, finding themselves hovering above the relegation zone, and despite the best efforts of visiting goalkeeper Andres Fernandez, were able to clinch the points.

Aritz Aduriz pounced in the 12th minute to continue his good run of form since joining from Valencia, and ease the pressure on coach Marcelo Bielsa.

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  1. Real Madrid becoming a better team than Barca Real Madrid becoming a better team than Barca

    Tito Vilanova’s team remain eight points clear of Barca after Sunday’s 2-2 but Jose Mourinho’s men no longer fear the Catalans and are looking more and more like the stronger side

Barcelona may well win La Liga, but Real Madrid are becoming the better team

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Winners and losers. Barcelona’s 2-2 draw at home to Real Madrid in the Camp Nou Clasico on Sunday sees the Catalans remain in control of the Primera Division as they retain their eight-point advantage on Jose Mourinho’s men. Already, Barca look like winning La Liga. But already, they appear to be losing their domestic dominance following the departure of Pep Guardiola.

The tidy transition from Pep to Tito had seen the new man steer his side to six straight successes in La Liga, but the key tests come in the very biggest matches and having lost the Spanish Supercopa to Madrid over two legs in late August, Barca were unable to put their fiercest foes to the sword on Sunday, either.

Perhaps the tide is turning. Cristiano Ronaldo, once petrified of facing the Blaugrana, has now scored in his last five appearances at Camp Nou, also becoming the first player ever to register in six successive Clasico clashes. He drove the opener past a static Victor Valdes and levelled the scores in the second half when put through by Mesut Ozil, just as it had looked like Lionel Messi would steal the show with a double of his own to move within one goal of Alfredo Di Stefano’s all-time scoring record.

Competition Date Result
Liga (away) Nov 29, 2010 Lost 5-0
Liga (home) Apr 16, 2011 Drew 1-1
Copa (n) Apr 20, 2011 Won 1-0
UCL (h) Apr 28, 2011 Lost 2-0
UCL (a) May 3, 2011 Drew 1-1
Supercopa (h) Aug 14, 2011 Drew 2-2
Supercopa (a) Aug 17, 2011 Lost 3-2
Liga (h) Dec 10, 2011 Lost 3-1
Copa (h) Jan 18, 2012 Lost 2-1
Copa (a) Jan 25, 2012 Drew 2-2
Liga (a) Apr 21, 2012 Won 2-1
Supercopa (a) Aug 23, 2012 Lost 3-2
Supercopa (h) Aug 29, 2012 Won 2-1
Liga (a) Oct 7, 2012 Drew 2-2

Barcelona had chances to win it late on, but Madrid had given as good as they got in the first half and should have been two up as Karim Benzema hit the post when he really should have scored shortly after Ronaldo’s opener.

Mourinho’s men took the game to Tito’s team and took advantage of some poor positioning from Barca’s defence and midfield in the second goal. Vilanova has received much praise for his tactical nous but on occasions last night, his players were all over the place – except where they needed to be.

Adriano impressed in central defence, but centre-back is stretching the Brazilian’s ‘utility man’ tag too far and he cannot be considered a solution in that role. With Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol sidelined, plus Eric Abidal out long-term and Dani Alves forced off injured, Vilanova reminded the press that he was denied his first-choice back line. But Puyol’s problems are well known and Abidal has been out all year, so the argument hardly seemed convincing and had the club signed a centre-back in the summer, they surely would not be in this predicament now.

In the end, it was problems in defence which blighted Barca’s campaign in 2011-12 – when the Catalans captured four trophies but missed out on La Liga and the Champions League. Already there are concerns this term, although their problems have been masked by their near-perfect start in the Primera Division.

In spite of their start, though, something has changed over the last nine months. In January of this year, Mourinho watched his side lose their third straight Clasico clash. He had tried everything and, Copa del Rey win aside, he had failed. A 5-0 drubbing in his very first Clasico and just one win (in extra time) from his first nine, including five losses, made miserable reading for Real fans and reports of the coach’s departure quickly surfaced. Barcelona were well on top and it seemed as if things would stay that way.

But since then, Mourinho has won two, draw two and lost just one in the Clasico, with the last five clashes highlighting a much more motivated Madrid, while Barca seem somewhat subdued since the beginning of the year and appear to have lost part of their passion and hunger since the departure of Guardiola.

Perhaps Pep got away at the right time, unable to motivate the players as he had done in his first three seasons and worn down under the pressure of Mourinho’s mind games. Tito brings new blood and fresh energy, but lacks the presence of his predecessor. And although results have been good, performance levels have dropped. Of the three Clasicos he has disputed as coach, only the first was entirely satisfactory, although even that ended in disappointment with Victor Valdes’ error handing Madrid a lifeline. In the Supercopa’s second leg at the Bernabeu, the Catalans were picked apart and should have been punished more severely than the 2-1 loss suggested, while Sunday’s showing wasn’t entirely convincing, either, despite dominance late on.

So while winning La Liga still looks likely for Tito’s team, Barca are slowly but surely losing their grip on the game in Spain. As the Catalans’ performances wane under Vilanova, it is now Mourinho’s Madrid who are becoming the better side.

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Vilanova: We could make a video of all Pepe's fouls against us

Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova has hit out at Real Madrid defender Pepe in the wake of Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Camp Nou.

The  Portugal international accused the Catalans of diving in this weekend’s Clasico, but Vilanova was quick to point out that the defender made enough fouls to fill an entire video.

“And if Pepe has said that we were theatrical then and all I can say is that you could make a film of all the kicks Pepe gave us tonight,” Vilanova stated at the post-match press conference.

The Barca coach then went on to voice his dismay with Jose Mourinho’s criticism of the referee, and stressed that the Madrid coach should also look at the decisions that went in his side’s favour.

“After all this talk about not mentioning referees, Mourinho has then gone and spoken about it. So I say to him, if we want to talk about referees, let’s talk about every decision, not just the ones that interest him.

“There was a foul on [Andres] Iniesta in the lead up to their second goal.

“Mourinho told me it was a great game and I would say the same. We have a good relationship with each other, now we always greet each other. When I was the assistant coach he didn’t greet me.”

Vilanova explained that he opted to start Adriano in defence as he deemed it necessary to play with quick defenders. Before the game many thought Alex Song would start the match, but after the final whistle the Blaugrana boss revealed why he decided against this.

“Song knows the concepts, but still takes time to execute them. I preferred Adriano because he’s faster, we needed that against Madrid,” the 44-year-old said.

“Congratulations to the defence, to [Martin] Montoya, Adriano, it’s not easy to play in such a game in a defence without several starters,” Vilanova said.

“Our four defenders who would be starters – Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal – weren’t there. I’m very satisfied with how the others did.”

On [Dani] Alves’ injury, he said: “Alves won’t be able to play with Brazil this week. He’ll be out for some days, although it doesn’t look really bad.”

Javier Mascherano also commented after the game on the decision to play Adriano alongside him in defence.

“Adriano as a centre-back was kept secret. We had been training with that line-up the whole week,” the former Liverpool player said.

Adriano himself also remarked on Vilanova’s decision to play him in an unfamiliar role: “People didn’t expect me to play centre-back.

“I thank the coach for believing in me.”

Xavi, who was appearing in his 35th Clasico match this evening, told reporters that he believed his side controlled the game when they were in possession, but suffered when they did not have the ball.

“When we had the ball, we dominated, without the ball we suffer. We were stronger at the end. Both could have won, great game,” said the 32-year-old.

On the result, he added: “Looking at the ranking, this result might be better for us, but you still have a bitter taste because we could have won.

“We missed a chance to get a lead of 11 points on Madrid, but before the season we would have been delighted to be eight points ahead at this stage.”

Sergio Busquets, when asked by Canal+ about the sportsmanship on show compared with Clasico meetings in recent seasons said: “We always try to be sporting. What happened in the past is not good for anyone, and everyone knows that.”