Champions League: Ramos talks facing Madrid, Mbappe's future and Messi relationship

By Sports Desk December 13, 2021

Sergio Ramos would have preferred Paris Saint-Germain to have avoided Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League but conceded "I have to face the present".

The Los Blancos legend spent 16 trophy-laden years in the Spanish capital, where he won five LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among his plethora of honours.

Centre-back Ramos made the switch to Ligue 1 with powerhouses PSG ahead of the 2021-22 season after Madrid opted not to offer him a new contract.

In a twist of fate, Ramos' new side were paired to do battle with his former club, but only after a re-draw was needed following a technical glitch with the first attempt.

Speaking at the opening of his new gym in Madrid, Ramos opened up about the prospect of coming up a club so close to his heart.

"Fate is very unpredictable. I'd have liked us to draw another team, but that's how it is," Ramos said.

"You know the affection and love I have for Real Madrid, that won't ever change. Now I have to face the present. I play for PSG.

"It's a mixture of feelings. I'd have liked not to have had this tie, but on the other hand coming home to the Bernabeu, I had the best years of my life here and not having had a goodbye because of COVID, it's gratifying. 

"I'd have liked it to be another way but that's football. I have to defend my team. I'll go to the death with PSG."

Another sub-plot thrown up by the tie is the fact Kylian Mbappe will come against Madrid, who were rebuffed in their attempts to sign the France star on transfer deadline day.

With Mbappe out of contract in June there is the possibility he may have agreed a pre-contract agreement with Madrid by the time he plays against them with PSG.

Ramos, though, hopes Mbappe decides to stay with the Ligue 1 leaders.

"I like to be surrounded by the best players and he is a key part of PSG in the present and in the future. I want him to continue in my team," he added.

At PSG, Ramos has linked up with long-time rival and Barcelona great Lionel Messi, a player with whom he has done battle with many times over the years.

But now Ramos says the two have a relationship built on mutual respect in Paris.

"Now we share a dressing room and we have a very good relationship. We try to help PSG win," he said.

"The goal is the Champions League and both Messi and I can contribute something. The relationship is one of admiration and respect for both parties."

Related items

  • From Manchester to Seville: Rangers' 14-year journey back to a European final From Manchester to Seville: Rangers' 14-year journey back to a European final

    None of us truly know where this life is going to take us, and what highs and lows we will experience along the way.

    That is especially true for anyone associated with Rangers Football Club if you had told them after the 2008 UEFA Cup final they would next reach another European showpiece 14 years later.

    As the Gers players trudged off the field at the Etihad Stadium having been thoroughly outplayed by Zenit, the disappointment was tempered with a belief that at least this was a team that had made a final and may have been on the way to more.

    It took nearly a decade and a half, but on Wednesday they find themselves heading to Spain to line up opposite Eintracht Frankfurt to contest the Europa League final.

    Here, Stats Perform takes a look at how Rangers got from Manchester to Seville, with one of the bumpiest rides football has ever seen.

    A night to forget in Manchester

    Under the guidance of legendary manager Walter Smith in 2007-08, Rangers were looking to overthrow rivals Celtic in the league, having been bested by the Hoops the previous two seasons.

    It was no good as Celtic made it a third Scottish title in a row, beating Rangers by three points, but there was a silver lining for the blue half of Glasgow.

    Having finished third in their Champions League group behind Barcelona and Lyon, Rangers found themselves in the UEFA Cup.

    They overcame Panathinaikos on away goals first up, before beating Werder Bremen 2-0 at Ibrox in first leg of the last 16, one of only two wins they actually managed in their entire run.

    After getting past Sporting Lisbon in the quarter-finals, a penalty shoot-out success after 210 goalless minutes against Fiorentina sent Smith's side to the final.

    However, it was a step too far for Rangers as they succumbed to defeat in Manchester, losing 2-0 to a Zenit team containing Andrei Arshavin and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, and managed by former Gers boss Dick Advocaat.

    It was a blow but Rangers went on to win the next three Scottish titles until things began to unravel in the 2011-12 season, with poor form and a points deduction for financial issues seeing Celtic take the crown back.

    That was far from the worst thing that happened to the club that year, though.

    The fall and rise of Rangers

    The financial issues were worse than first feared. Owing significant money to HM Revenue and Customs, The Rangers Football Club plc entered liquidation on 31 October 2012.

    The club was forced to reform under the new ownership of Charles Green and a vote from other member clubs of the Scottish Football League meant Rangers were forced to begin again at the bottom, in the third division.

    Although they had to sell most of their players to raise money and because few fancied playing in Scotland's fourth tier, Rangers still boasted by far the strongest squad in the third division, while manager Ally McCoist had also stayed on to try and take them back to the top.

    They unsurprisingly won the league by 24 points in their first season, and had even fewer problems in the second division, now called League One, going unbeaten and drawing only three of their 36 games, securing 102 points and promotion at the first time of asking again.

    The Championship was a different prospect altogether, though, as Rangers found themselves in with both Hibernian and Hearts. The two Edinburgh clubs ultimately finished above them, though Rangers beat both Queen of the South and Hibs in the playoffs, before losing to Motherwell in the final, meaning they would have to try again.

    Stuart McCall was in charge by that point, and the former Scotland midfielder was able to get the job done in 2015-16, finishing 11 points ahead of second-placed Falkirk.

    For the first time in four years, Rangers were back at the top table in Scotland, but this was always going to be the biggest leap. Their first Old Firm derby back in the top flight ended in a 5-1 drubbing by Celtic.

    During the winter break, Rangers had played RB Leipzig in a friendly, losing 4-0 to the German side, which was perhaps a prophetic sign of how far they would need to rise to get back to where they felt they belonged.

    Rangers finished third in their first two seasons back in the Premiership and decided to bring in a big name to try and force their way into the title picture. Steven Gerrard.

    The former Liverpool star was new to management but was able to secure second place in 2018-19, though also back in Europe, Rangers were unable to get out of the Europa League group stage.

    They made it to the round of 16 the following season before going out to Bayer Leverkusen, and despite putting up more of a fight in the league, a wobble in the second half of the campaign saw Celtic claim their ninth consecutive title.

    Rangers fans everywhere wanted Gerrard to do everything he could to stop their great rivals from making it 10 in a row, and despite none of them being able to witness it thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Gerrard and his players did just that.

    They had done it emphatically as well, going undefeated and collecting 102 points to win the Premiership, averaging 2.42 goals for per game, and just 0.34 goals against across their 38 league matches.

    Full circle

    It felt like Rangers were ready to take the next step, and many assumed that was by getting back into the group stage of the Champions League in 2021-22.

    However, those plans were scuppered as they were beaten home and away by Malmo in qualifying, so back to the Europa League it was.

    After losing their first two group games to Lyon and Sparta Prague without scoring, few will have had any hopes about making it to the knockout round playoffs, let alone where they ended up.

    Home wins against Brondby and Sparta as well as away draws with Brondby and Lyon saw them advance a point ahead of the Czech side, though they were given a daunting tie against Borussia Dortmund.

    On top of that, Gerrard had left for Aston Villa in November, with former player Giovanni van Bronckhorst taking over.

    A stunning effort in Signal Iduna Park saw them win 4-2, before completing the job with a 2-2 draw back at Ibrox.

    Hard-fought aggregate victories against Red Star Belgrade and Braga sent them to the semi-finals, and a date with more Bundesliga opposition, the very same they had lost convincingly to in that 2017 friendly.

    Leipzig will have been wondering how they only won 1-0 at Red Bull Arena in the first leg, but Ibrox was a different matter, with a raucous crowd again cheering Rangers to a famous 3-1 win, and their first European final since 2008.

    The second leg came nine years and one day after beating Berwick Rangers 1-0 at Ibrox in their final game in the third division.

    It has been quite a ride since Manchester in 2008. Whatever happens in Seville, it is not always about the destination. It's about the journey.

  • Rumour Has It: Newcastle to swoop for Henderson, Juventus eye Pogba Rumour Has It: Newcastle to swoop for Henderson, Juventus eye Pogba

    Another Manchester United rebuild could potentially benefit Newcastle United as they seek to flex their financial muscle.

    The recent takeover at Newcastle will make them active players in the transfer market, while Erik ten Hag's imminent arrival in Manchester will also likely create player turnover.

    Reports suggest Ten Hag's rebuild at Old Trafford does not only have consequences for outfield players, however.


    TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE TO SWOOP FOR HENDERSON  

    Newcastle United's interest in Dean Henderson has ramped up, according to the Mirror.

    Reports suggest Magpies boss Eddie Howe, who wanted Henderson on loan in January, sees him as the ideal replacement for Martin Dubravka.

    Meanwhile, the 25-year-old goalkeeper is understood to be ready to leave unless Ten Hag can guarantee him the number one spot ahead of David de Gea.

    Newcastle have now guaranteed their Premier League status but have also conceded 61 goals this season, which is more than relegation-threatened Everton and Burnley.

    ROUND-UP

    - The Mirror is reporting Juventus will hold fresh talks with the representatives of Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba.

    - The Bianconeri are also interested in 24-year-old Arsenal centre-back Gabriel, according to Tuttosport.

    - Newcastle are interested in Reims striker Hugo Ekitike, but Borussia Dortmund are also keen on him as a replacement for Erling Haaland, per Fabrizio Romano.

    - Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is set to met with the club's president Nasser Al-Khelaifi amid speculation over his future, Marca reports.

  • 'Now things have to be corrected' – Xavi aiming for Barcelona resurgence 'Now things have to be corrected' – Xavi aiming for Barcelona resurgence

    Barcelona boss Xavi looked to remain positive following a goalless draw with Getafe, as the club approach the end of an empty-handed season.

    Barca lacked verve in the middle of the pitch without Pedri at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, creating nothing of substance despite having 71.3 per cent possession for the match.

    The Blaugrana remain 12 points from Real Madrid, with both teams only managing a point this weekend, but the latter have the LaLiga title already wrapped up with a Champions League final awaiting.

    Xavi wants to remain upbeat coming into the off-season, however, believing Barcelona have salvaged a season that could have finished much worse. Since his appointment, Barcelona have surged from mid-table to second place, which is where they will finish.

    "As for the league, we were very far away, but the reality is that we have not been able to compete in other competitions. Now things have to be corrected, but it could have been worse," Xavi said.

    "If the economic situation is good, I'm optimistic, but we'll wait. We have to plan now and we don't have much time. We are already against the clock to plan and to decide things."

    Barca were knocked out of the Champions League's group stage and the Copa del Rey's last-16, opening with only four wins in their opening 11 league games before Xavi was announced to replace Ronald Koeman in November.

    A 4-0 win over title winners Madrid in March was soured by their eventual elimination at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-final of the Europa League, confirming a trophy-less season.

    Post-match on Sunday, despite Getafe generating a greater xG (0.43-0.22) with 28.7 per cent possession, Xavi tried to bring the result into context.

    "The goal was to qualify for the Super Cup, to finish second, and we've covered that," he said. "Just as we were in November, December, January, we can be happy. Not so much with this game, we were too tidy in the first half, we need to generate more.

    "We have not achieved the main objective of winning titles, I would not have signed for it [when taking the job], but we have denied the blow of a disastrous season."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.