Real Madrid still a notch above Barcelona, insists Kopa

Former Real Madrid star Raymond Kopa, who wore the Blancos jersey from 1956 until 1959, feels that Barcelona still have work to do if they are to match the Santiago Bernabeu side’s list of honours, though, concedes the Blaugrana’s style of football is more attractive.

The Catalans have overtaken Madrid as the dominant force in Spanish football in recent years, but Kopa is adamant that they are not on par with the reigning Liga champions just yet.

“Real Madrid are still a notch above Barcelona. I think that Barça must wait a few years yet before they can match Real’s list of honours,” Kopa told the official Fifa website.

“I have to admit that the Catalans play the better football at the moment, but that didn’t stop us having a magnificent season last year.

“Things don’t look great for us right now, though – 16 points between the teams is a lot.”

The Frenchman then went on to stress that the Madrid he played for in the 1950s were at least as good as the current Barcelona team.

He added: “I can tell you that my Real team were at least as good as this Barça side. I only lost one match in three years with Madrid. Yes, it was the worst possible one to lose because it was a 1-0 loss to Atletico, but we were, quite frankly, unbeatable at the time.”

Madrid currently sit third in the Primera Division table.

Pepe's absence will affect Real Madrid, says Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos believes that Real Madrid could struggle without Pepe, who is expected to be sidelined for at least a month.

The powerful defender underwent ankle surgery earlier this week and could be out of action for up to four weeks due to the knock.

“Of course Pepe’s injury will affect the team. He is a great player and has always been very consistent,” Ramos was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.

“He is a key part of the side and always maintains a very good level of play. Hopefully he will be back soon because he is a very important player in the dressing room and on the field.”

Madrid resume La Liga action against Real Sociedad on January 6 after a brief winter break. They currently sit third in the league table with 33 points from 17 games.

Elustondo: We are not scared of Real Madrid

Gorka Elustondo believes Real Sociedad can “hurt” Real Madrid when his side meet the Spanish champions in La Liga on Sunday.

The 25-year-old midfielder will be hoping to return to the starting line-up this weekend when his team make the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu, having spent the last four months out injured.

“They will come at us with 200 per cent and we must also leap onto the field. I think that we have to go out and play against Madrid, face-to-face, without turning back because with the people we have, we can hurt them,” Elustondo told Marca.com.

Elustondo’s inclusion in the team will depend on the fitness of team-mate Asier Illarramendi who is fighting to overcome an injury of his own.

“It is clear that the team is working well and we have already played seven games without losing,” Elustondo continued.

“I think with a good level of performance, it helps me to recover. And the competition motivates you and makes you push yourself more,” he added.

Yilmaz: It feels good to compete against Messi and Ronaldo

Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz says he enjoys competing with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but played down comparisons between himself and the duo.

The Turkey international has been in good form and is currently the Champions League joint top scorer.

“I don’t aim to be the top scorer in the Champions League. If I am, then it’s great. But my purpose is to be successful as a team. I don’t think about it as an individual,” Yilmaz told Sabah.

“Messi and Ronaldo are the best players in the world and it feels good to compete against them. It’s an honour but honestly, I’m not in a position to challenge them. I just feel good and will try to score as many goals as possible and continue to do good work,” he added.

The 27-year-old is currently equal on goals with Cristiano Ronaldo after the group stages of this season’s Champions League.

Despite being last year’s Super Lig top scorer, he has received criticism for his comparison to the Real Madrid and Barcelona strikers.

“There will always be some critics of course but sometimes people need to support players like me. I’ve succeeded so much individually, some people just envy me,” said Yilmaz.

The Gala man also spoke about recent transfer rumours, adding that he is happy where he is but that the final decision lies with his club.

“I feel peaceful here. My club is in charge but I can say that I want to stay and succeed at Galatasaray.”

It is totally untrue that Falcao has an agreement with Real Madrid, claims Cerezo

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has quashed speculation linking Radamel Falcao with a move to Real Madrid.

Falcao’s impressive performances this season for the Colcochones has led to many clubs reportedly showing interest in his services, including Los Blancos.

However, Cerezo has made it clear that there is no substance to the suggestions made on Punto Pelota that his star player is set for a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I want to say that it is false that Falcao has an agreement with another team. I say it is false because I have [not] spoken to anyone regarding this subject,” Cerezo told Marca.

“It is absolutely false and a lie. It is one thing to joke but it is another to make a something out of nothing. Above everything, I don’t like having words put in my mouth that I have never said.

“Like [club general manager] Miguel Angel Gil said, Falcao is our player and he has won the right to make his own decision. He has a contract with us and there is no need to talk nor invent anything else.

“It seems that some want to destabilise Atletico and Falcao. The day that something does occur, if that day happens at all which I doubt, then there will be something to talk about. But, there is no need to talk of just rumours.”

Cerezo also spoke of his coach Diego Simeone and revealed that the club is preparing to offer him a new contract but that they will do so with calm and patience.

“The renewal of his contract will be done with tranquility and will occur over the course of the year,” he continued.

“There is no date nor day nor place by which it needs to happen. There is no problem and it will happen when it can. We do not know if he has offers from other clubs though I do imagine he will have since he is a very good coach.”