Not only does club captain Sergio Ramos appear in the moments Real Madrid need it most on the pitch with a header, he also responds off the pitch when the honour of his club is under threat.

In the aftermath of a 2-0 friendly win for La Roja over France, it seemed as though VAR would be the topic of discussion, but instead Gerard Pique went on a tirade criticising what Real Madrid represent and the values they transmit as a club.

"What Pique says won't change the values, our badge, our history or our titles," Ramos responded. "What he says will provoke headlines and sell newspapers but we live off of that.

"In every box seat strings are pulled, but if anything, they [Barcelona] should in general have more to be quiet about then we do."

While that comment in particular was worth a stern response, Ramos did admit that he couldn't help but laugh when Pique mentioned that VAR helped him more this time because Spain were wearing white, Real's usual colours.

"The dressing room laughed at that," Ramos said. "The white shirt looks better on him and he doesn't know how to react to that.

"Years ago we got our relationship back on track and it is magnificent - the group comes first."

Finally, Ramos hopes to see Mbappe dressing in a Real Madrid shirt as he is a talented player.

"Right now, Real Madrid have talented players, and it is obvious they will continue to have their door open to great footaballers," he said of the matter.

Pique: I don't like the values Real Madrid transmit

In the tunnel it may have been all laughs with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, but Gerard Pique didn't hesitate in slamming Real Madrid as an institution and what the club stand for after Spain's 2-0 friendly win over France.

Video assistant refereeing was the main talking point it seemed after it was used on two occasions in a way that was then reflected in the finalscore, but Pique's inflammatory comments stole the thunder.

"I don't like the values Real Madrid transmit, although there are players there I really appreciate with and am friends with," Pique said. "I don't doubt Raul's madridismo and I'd never work at Real Madrid.

"What I don't like about Real Madrid is how those in the box seats pull the strings.

"I don't like what they transmit, as a club, what do you want me to tell you," he reiterated. "Almost all of them are friends and I can play cards with them but we know how this works."

Pique also picked up on Ramos and Marcelo's comments after Barcelona's 'historic' comeback, with the insinuation that it was only historic due to the refereeing on display.

"For me, this is a show, I don't get upset at what they [Marcelo and Ramos] said, and I hope they don't get upset when I do the same," he continued. "I like the type of wordplay they used."

As for the video assistant refereeing, again Pique joked that it was because he was wearing white that the calls went his and Spain's way, a comment he then repeated in the dressing room.

"In the end, it all comes down to me wearing white," he said amidst laughter. "It worked really well and I think it'd be a good idea to have VAR in LaLiga.

"We've been asking for it for some time."

Messi banned for four matches by FIFA

Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been banned from their next four competitive internationals, starting with Tuesday's World Cup qualifier in Bolivia, for swearing at a match official, FIFA said on Tuesday.

The decision was announced less than six hours before kickoff of the match in La Paz and means that the five-times world player of the year will play in only one of Argentina's remaining five World Cup qualifiers.

His absence will be a severe blow to the two-times world champions who are struggling in the marathon South American campaign where their results have included home defeats by Ecuador and Paraguay and a 3-0 mauling by arch-rivals Brazil.

FIFA said Messi had "directed insulting words at an assistant referee" during the 1-0 win over Chile on Friday, in which he scored the only goal from a penalty.

Television pictures showed him swearing at Brazilian linesman Emerson Augusto do Carvalho at the end of the match after being harried and fouled by Chilean player Jean Beausejour. The official patted him on the head and tried to calm him down but Messi kept ranting.

FIFA said in a letter to the Argentine Football Association (AFA), published by Argentine media, that the incident was not detailed in the referee's report at the time and was brought to their attention by the media.

According to the letter, Carvalho said he did not understand at the time what Messi was saying.

"I only realised he was swearing afterwards on reading the press," he said.

Messi, 29, will also miss games away to Uruguay and home to Venezuela and Peru. The Barcelona forward will be eligible again when Argentina visit Ecuador on Oct. 10.

Argentina are third in the 10-team South American group with 22 points from 13 games but have only a two-point cushion over sixth-placed Chile, with Colombia (21) and Ecuador (20) sandwiched in between.

The top four qualify directly for the tournament in Russia and the fifth side play off against a team from a different confederation for another place.

"This decision is in line with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee's previous rulings in similar cases," FIFA said.

Messi has not enjoyed the same success with Argentina as he has with his club Barcelona and announced his international retirement earlier this year before back-tracking on his decision.

He was frustrated after they lost 1-0 after extra-time to Germany in the World Cup final in 2014, then on penalties to Chile in the Copa America the following year and again on penalties to Chile in the Copa Centenario final last year.

Valdano: Messi's four-match ban is hard to believe

Former Argentine forward Jorge Valdano believes Lionel Messi's 'incredible' four-match suspension could jeopardise Argentina's World Cup qualification campaign.

The Barcelona talisman was banned for four international matches after television pictures showed the five-time Ballon d'Or champion at a Brazilian linesman after being fouled by Chile's Jean Beausejour.

The suspension means the 29-year-old will feature in just one of the Albiceleste's five remaining qualifiers as the team currently sit in third place in the qualification standings.

Nevertheless, Valdano admits he was left baffled by Messi's behaviour following the confrontation.

"The first thing is that while Messi loses control, he never loses his tranquillity," he said.

"What baffles me is that players cover their mouths to say good morning and when they swear at the linesmen with 'la concha de su madre', they do not cover their mouths.

"Carlos Luis Menotti once said that when a player makes a mistake, they should not be forbidden to play but should do social work or something like that instead.

"The sanction of four matches is incredible and puts Argentina's qualification campaign in danger."

Ramos: Isco won't have it better anywhere else than he does at Madrid

A La Roja mainstay, Isco nonetheless hasn't gotten a continuous run of minutes because of the internal competition at a club of Real Madrid's stature, but club and country teammate Sergio Ramos believes him leaving Los Blancos would be a mistake.

A contract renewal is on the table, but rumours persist about the Malaga man's future.

"We hope Isco will stay," Ramos said. "He won't have it any better anywhere else than he does at Madrid.

"He has to find his equilibrium and his happiness.

"Isco is managing the situation very calmly and is leaving side everything that doesn't have to do with his happiness or playing good football."

Modric sees himself at Real Madrid beyond 2020

A Madridista until he retires, Luka Modric can see himself at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu past June 2020 when his current contract expires.

Maybe he will be there a year later, longer if he decides to extend his relationship with Real Madrid

The Croatian is certainly convinced that he will still be able to continue to compete at the level required beyond the 19/20 campaign.

His diet and the specific physical programmes that he follows mean that the Croatian won't rule out playing well beyond that date ... but only in Madrid.

That is his plan. Taking care of himself to prolong his career.

Although it may sometimes seem the opposite, Modric is one of the players who are least injured.

In fact, except in November 2014, his next three injuries (Malaga in 14/15, and this season's cartilage damage and muscle overload) were caused by blows from the opposition.

Therefore, there's little doubt if he continues at the same level, the Croatian will be around for some time yet.
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