Ramos bemoans Real’s missed chance to pounce on Barcelona slip-up

Sergio Ramos lamented Real Madrid’s draw against city rivals Atletico Madrid as the European champions missed the opportunity to capitalise on Barcelona dropping points.

After crashing to a 3-0 loss at Sevilla last time out, Real dropped points in La Liga for the second successive match following Saturday’s goalless draw with Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real were less than convincing on home soil, relying on the brilliance of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to secure a draw in the Spanish capital.

La Liga holders Barca had earlier drawn 1-1 at home to Athletic Bilbao and Madrid captain Ramos told reporters post-game: “We knew the importance of these three points to take advantage of Barcelona slipping up. The draw feels disappointing after the great job we’ve done.

“In the first half Atletico pushed higher, but in the second we controlled the game and just missed the finishing touch that we’ve had in other games. We have to look forward now.

“You always have to have the utmost respect for the opponent because in these games mistakes are decisive, so it’s better to be careful and not pay the price.

“The team dug in well, controlled the game and dominated, but we’ve not been successful in front of goal and we’ve dropped points.”

Dani Ceballos impressed for Real after replacing injured team-mate Gareth Bale at half-time.

Gareth Bale Real Madrid Atletico

Bale suffered a suspected thigh injury and Spaniard Ceballos injected some much-needed energy into Real’s attack.

“I think that it was a tactical and tough contest,” Ceballos said. “We did enough in the second half to have won the game. If we show the same attitude as we did tonight, we can go on and achieve big things. 

“Gareth had a bit of discomfort and Julen [Lopetegui] told me to go out there and just be myself and to run at Juanfran. It’s a shame that after the bad knee injury he suffered he has been unable to perform to the same level.

“We created quite a few chances. If we continue on in this vein, the goals will come. This was my best performance in a Real Madrid shirt but what I take away with me is the fact that we failed to get the win. We were the ones who put our all into winning the game. We’ve now got the Champions League game on Tuesday and we have to keep going.”

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‘He’s my little friend’ – Griezmann plays down spat with Real Madrid ace Ramos

Antoine Griezmann said he has a lot of respect for Sergio Ramos after the Real Madrid captain publicly questioned the Atletico Madrid star’s ambition.

Ramos urged Atletico head coach Diego Simeone to teach Griezmann some “values” after the Frenchman and World Cup winner talked up his Ballon d’Or chances.

Griezmann claimed he is on the same level as Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo, prompting a response from the Madrid skipper.

Atletico forward Griezmann and Ramos went head-to-head in Saturday’s Madrid derby, which ended goalless at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Asked about Ramos afterwards, Griezmann said: “He’s my little friend, I have a lot of respect for him. 

“He’s an example for the kids and a great centre-back.

“For me, this is a game, I like to have fun with my team-mates and with players from other teams.

Sergio Ramos Real Madrid UEFA Super Cup 2018

“Sometimes I’m ‘poking’ and this time I was ‘poked’.”

Ramos also discussed Griezmann following the clash and the Spain international told Movistar Plus: “I have not spoken with Griezmann, regardless of the opinion of each other, one must always have the utmost respect for a fellow professional.”

Barcelona and Madrid are level on 14 points atop the LaLiga table, two points ahead of fourth-placed Sevilla.

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MLS Review: Zlatan hits 20th, Dallas clinches playoff place

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at it again for the LA Galaxy on Saturday, scoring twice to hit the 20-goal mark on the season and lead his side to a 3-0 win over the struggling Vancouver Whitecaps. 

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring from the penalty spot inside the opening five minutes and doubled his side’s lead just before the hour mark.

And while the former Manchester United star didn’t finish off his hat trick, he won a penalty late on that was put away by Romain Alessandrini to round out the scoring and leave the Galaxy just one point back of the playoff places in the Western Conference. 

Ibrahimovic wasn’t the only former Manchester United star scoring in MLS on Saturday, with Wayne Rooney netting two goals of his own as D.C. United earned an impressive, and vital, 5-0 win over the Montreal Impact. 

Luciano Acosta opened the scoring for United, with Rooney’s double coming either side of two goals from Paul Arriola as the home side strolled to the win. 

The result leaves D.C. just two points back of the Impact and final playoff place in the East, with United holding two games in hand. 

Toronto FC stayed alive in the playoff hunt as well, taking a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution. The defending MLS champion will still need some help to earn a place in the postseason, but survived to fight another day. 

For FC Dallas there are no such worries, with the Texas club locking up a playoff spot with a 0-0 draw against the Portland Timbers on Saturday. 

That result, coupled with Seattle’s 4-0 win over the Colorado Rapids, did do some harm for the Houston Dynamo. Despite taking a 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday the Dynamo could be knocked out the playoffs on Sunday should Real Salt Lake beat Sporting Kansas City. 

The San Jose loss was also notable for Chris Wondolowski’s goal, scored from the penalty spot, which ran his career MLS total to 143, leaving him just two shy of Landon Donovan’s all-time mark. 

LAFC took a tough 3-1 loss to the lowly Chicago Fire, denting the expansion club’s prospects of finishing in the top two places in the Western Conference.

Bob Bradley’s side sit four points back of West leader FC Dallas and could end the weekend four back of SKC as well. 

The top two places in the Eastern Conference were also decided on Saturday when New York City FC fell to Minnesota United. 

The loss cliched a playoff bye for the New York Red Bulls, who will fight it out with Atlanta United for the top spot in the conference starting with tomorrow’s showdown between the two at Red Bull Arena.

For Philadelphia and Columbus, a 0-0 draw gave both clubs a point but means that neither will end the weekend assured of a playoff place.  

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‘He has been a leader’ – France boss Deschamps defends under-fire star Pogba

Didier Deschamps insisted Paul Pogba cannot win games for Manchester United on his own as the France head coach defended the star midfielder and his leadership qualities.

Pogba helped France to World Cup glory in Russia but he has struggled to replicate that form at United in the Premier League amid a tense relationship with manager Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho stripped Pogba – who was substituted in Saturday’s shock defeat to West Ham – of his vice-captaincy responsibilities, while the pair were involved in a training-ground confrontation on Wednesday.

Mourinho has also insisted that “no player is bigger than the club” while addressing the issues with Pogba and claimed that “after weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision Paul is just a player and not a captain.”

But Deschamps has come to the defence of one of his star men, claiming that the 25-year-old’s attitude has always been positive and pointing out that the way of playing and the team around him may be the issue at the club level. 

Asked about Pogba’s performances for France compared to his displays at United, Deschamps said: “For Paul it depends not only on him but also the team he is in, the collective way of playing. It is not a case of one player who makes the team win.”

Deschamps went to explain that, in his opinion, Pogba’s “demonstrative” attitude may lead to some false representations of him as a player and a person.

“There are a few things people ought to know,” he continued. “First of all there is an image of Paul that doesn’t correspond to who he is.

“Maybe it is because he is a bit eccentric, a bit demonstrative.

“He has been with me since 2013 – that is five years now – and the way he functions is not about him for himself, it is him as part of the group. That is really important.

“His image in the media makes everything quite complicated. The amount of the transfer to Manchester United is ridiculous … it wasn’t easy to manage.

“During this World Cup he managed to get a normal image back. The fact he talks, it liberates him a bit, but the most important thing is that Paul came to this World Cup with a very precise idea: he wanted to prepare himself to be world champion. That is what he had in his mind.”

Deschamps also praised Pogba and his leadership within the France squad, saying: “He has taken many things upon himself. He has been a leader.

“Each time he had to talk and express himself it was always very positive. It’s the words he uses and the atmosphere and feeling that comes across.

“He is not the only one but he is one of the leaders who took it upon himself because the group needed it. On the pitch he did what needed to be done as well.”

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