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On Monday evening, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos had his say on the Girona defeat and also the political situation that is developing in Catalonia.

As usual, his opinions were forthright and to the point.

The program 'El Transistor' on the radio station Ondacero aired his views.

Thinking about the return from Girona, after a match like that, it will be like coming back from a funeral, right?

"It's true that the feeling is not pleasant, it is not good, because when you are in a club like ours we are not used to losing many matches. It's not that you don't know what it feels like but it's always bittersweet. Losing one point, or three like on Sunday... it hurts."

You are very close to Marcelo, your brother Rene too. On Sunday it was horrible, it was a very bad game. You will have read the reviews. Does it hurt to read what they say about him?

"There are games in which we will receive criticism and others we'll get compliments. If I'm honest, I have not read the press. I respect and understand that we live in a world where the press is not our family... "

And why do you treat them so badly? Why is there that kind of distance with journalists?

"They invent so much. I won't say that everything is a lie, but it is true that when there are no things to say or things to sell, there is a tendency to write things whether they are true or not. Maybe that has made us players move away a little more."

But sometimes you see us as enemies.

"As long as you do not disrespect us... In all my years in Madrid I have read things towards me that are disrespectful and not permissible. You can like the game I've played or not, but when you go beyond the sports theme, it becomes a personal issue... If there was an understanding between the current press and athletes, there would be a favourable playing field for all."        

When you arrived in Catalonia on Saturday and saw the flags on the balconies, how do you experience it?

"I did not see many flags. I saw almost the same flags of Spain as others. It does not mean anything to me. It's as if I go to Seville and I see a flag of Andalusia. As long as there is that respect, there is no problem. Yesterday I felt just as much Spanish as in any other place." 

And the whole independence process, how does a brave guy like you see it?

"What I can say or do about it will not change anything. The image of Spain as a country worldwide hurts me as I am Spanish. I do not like this kind of thing to happen, I believe that together we are stronger."

Talking to your fellow Catalan teammates, do you see it differently?

"They are too personal topics. We are wrong when we mix the issue of politics with the world of sports. Some use one, others use others ... but I do not like to talk about politics. I'm not going to talk about which party I am, they are personal things. When this subject comes up with the national team, we have practically not commented on anything. Pique thinks one way, I think another..."

Does it hurt you when Pique speaks about it?

"It hurts the national team. I like to enjoy the scenery, the environment... the only thing I always say as captain of the national team is that we must be aware of our every move. Pique's behaviour has always been exemplary despite what others may think."

And is it true that you get along as well as he said?

"If you compare it with the old relationship we had, I tell you that today we get along quite well. Before there was almost no relationship. We respected each other because we played together and we knew that together we were one of the best cenre-back pairings in the world. When you are growing and maturing you leave aside things that you previously gave importance to and do not have now. That has made the relationship better.

Have you ever had any conversation alone?

"Yes, we speak about family things, about children..."

And the business you were going into together? An internet theme, right?

"They are things that are on the table and that we are shuffling but you never know. Something for the future perhaps although nothing is clear yet."

Are you tired of the whole Catalonia thing?

"I like to be up to date but I watch TV very little."

Can you imagine a league without Barcelona?

"It's complicated. I find it hard to believe that the majority want independence and I prefer that Barcelona play in our league. On Sunday I felt just as much Spanish as anywhere else. I am more concerned as a Spaniard that our anthem has no lyrics than about the situation in Catalonia. I want our hymn to have lyrics because I feel the healthy envy of seeing other national teams looking up while singing their anthems."

Is it very different to listen to the national anthem when you play a Champions League match?

"They are equally important to me. I am in the national team thanks to what I do in Madrid."

Did you get to speak with Larrea?

"There was an attempt on the trip to Liechtenstein but I think it was not the time to talk about this before a game. We were playing a world cup match."

Is now time to ask for a clean election in the [Spanish Football] Federation? Would you go with President Rubiales?

"That has not left my mouth. As captain of the national team, I am worried about the balance of Spanish football. I do not know if it's time or not but it would be a good opportunity to give it a go."

Would you like to be president of the RFEF?

"It would be a very nice position to have. I think that many things could be done and improved."

Do you believe in politicians?

"I believe in honest people and people who want to do good. I think that Spain still has some people who want to make Spain better so that we can grow as a country."

Have you read Morata's statements in Gazzetta?

"No. I would have to talk to him. He is a great striker. Maybe in other teams and not in ours he can have more impact and more minutes and will be able to be a No.9 and a regular starter."

When will your renewal take shape?

"It's something that has been raised, but it does not bother me. I have three years of my current contract and as long as I continue waking up with enthusiasm there will be no problems with the president. The agreement will be made in two minutes."

How is it possible that the RFEF owes the players more than 10 million euros in image rights?

"What worries us is laziness, not that they do not pay us. And as for the issue of famous watches, the captains always negotiate a gift for each objective that is met with the national team. In previous years, they gave us watches sometimes, a television... and in my case, they contacted me because the Federation had not made the payment to the jeweller."

What do you have better memories of, the final in Lisbon or the final in South Africa?

"After 10 years in Madrid the first Champions League and also with my goal was impressive. But the World Cup will also be a very special memory that I will take with me until the day I die."

The most difficult moment of the Zidane era

Zinedine Zidane rarely seems to be affected by pressure but after losing to Girona, the Frenchman now finds himself in his most difficult moment as Real Madrid coach.

A thousand battles as a player and already a double European champion as coach, Zidane seems to have lost the magic that led him to the conquest of the title just six months ago.

He must try to spark a reaction from his team who find themselves eight points behind Barcelona in the league.

Although the highs have far exceeded the lows since he took charge of the team, in January 2016, Zizou has had some delicate moments as Madrid coach.

Perhaps the most complex was managing the mood of the group after the 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg in the 2015/16 Champions League.

He knew how to channel the energy of the collective and took them on to a historical comeback, fundamental to the winning of the Undecima.

Now, the battle front is LaLiga.

Zidane is in the same situation that Jose Mourinho experienced after winning the 'League of Records' (2011/12): day 10 of the following season and eight points behind the leader.

Mou couldn't get the team out of that situation and the Frenchman has to face the challenge and hope to go one better.

Cristiano Ronaldo's bitter LaLiga pill

For the man who has scored more than 400 goals in the shirt of Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo's scoring prowess deserted him again at the weekend, and on this occasion, when Los Blancos needed him the most, he was anonymous against Girona.

Although he lost four games at the start of the campaign because of suspension, the fact remains that he only has one LaLiga goal in 2017/18, against Getafe.

In the rest of the matches he has played (Betis, Alaves, Espanyol, Eibar and Girona), the Portuguese has finished the 90 minutes with the frustration of knowing that he is not going through his best moment of form in front of goal.

His great weapon and the value that has made him the winner of all the individual prizes in recent years, is nowhere to be seen.

Against Girona, he ended up desperate at a lack of individual success as well as angry at the lack of support from his teammates.

Benzema no help either

Not even the presence of his favourite partner, Karim Benzema, has improved the level of a player who lives for goals.

Neither the Portuguese or the French striker are at the races at the moment, as evidenced by the fact that the two best scorers at Real at this point are Isco and Asensio, both with three goals each.

All this comes after Messi, Ronaldo's great rival in everything, scored a decisive goal against Athletic Club.

It was his 12th in the domestic championship, which gave Barcelona three points to ease them eight ahead of Real.

Conte: Kante can return against Roma

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante is expected to be fit to face AS Roma in Tuesday's Champions League group stage match, manager Antonio Conte said.

Kante, who missed Chelsea's last five matches with a hamstring injury, trained with the squad before they left for Rome and Conte will speak to the France international before deciding whether he will feature.

Midfielder Danny Drinkwater is also set to play after recovering from a calf problem and on the back of his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea as a late substitute against Bournemouth on Saturday.

"We had three starters out, but we have recovered Drinkwater and Kante. (Victor) Moses needs more time," Conte told a news conference on Monday.

"Kante trained with us, also before the game at Bournemouth.

"I was a player and I know very well after an injury, a bad injury, it is very important to listen to the player which are the sensation. For him and the team, tomorrow we try to make the best decision."

Chelsea, who top the Group C standings, will qualify for round of 16 with a victory at Roma.

But Conte, disappointed with a 3-3 draw in the home fixture with Roma earlier this month, said it was vital Chelsea finished as group winners ahead of the Italian side and Atletico Madrid.

"I think our group is a tough group, with Atletico and Roma two really strong teams. To be at the top is very important, we are trying to face all competitions," the manager added.

"It was a good match, a fair score (at Stamford Bridge), and tomorrow will be another difficult game."

Following their midweek European assignment, Chelsea host title rivals Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Mourinho defends 'untouchable' Lukaku

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, the subject of criticism from the club's fans, should be "untouchable", his manager Jose Mourinho said on Monday.

Lukaku, who has netted 11 goals this season since joining United from Everton for 75 million pounds, extended his barren streak to five games in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur but did set up Anthony Martial's winner.

"I think Romelu is one of the players who should be untouchable in terms of respect from everyone," Mourinho told a news conference ahead of the Champions League Group A game against Benfica on Tuesday.

"What he does for the team is fantastic and to play football for a striker is not just about scoring goals.

"I don't think he was quiet (against Spurs) at all, ask (Toby) Alderweireld and (Jan) Vertonghen and (Eric) Dier... they are some of the best centre defenders in football."

United, top of Group A with three wins from three, host Benfica at Old Trafford and will qualify for the last 16 if they better CSKA Moscow's result against Basel.

"Ten points would be OK to qualify but our main aim is to finish first in the group," Mourinho said.

"Nobody here thinks about any other match than Benfica. Nobody here thinks about Chelsea," he added, referring to Sunday's Premier League game at his former club.

Mourinho could name forwards Martial and Marcus Rashford in the starting lineup as he did in the League Cup win over Swansea City last week.

"That's no problem," he said. "What we cannot do is play with 12 men, but we did play them together, so we can repeat that against Benfica or we can repeat in any other match."

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