‘We’re not from Beverly Hills’ – Ramos warns Atletico

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos insists the European champions will not be cowered by an intimidating atmosphere as they visit Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon for the final time on Wednesday.

'We're not from Beverly Hills' - Ramos warns Atletico
Real Madrid takes on Atletico at the Calderon on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Los Blancos are looking to seal their place in the Champions League final once more and enjoy a commanding 3-0 first leg lead.   

And Ramos hit back at the simplification of the rivalry between the two Madrid giants as Real's riches against Atletico's hard work.   

“It seems like here we have grown up in Beverly Hills,” said Ramos on Tuesday.

“Here there are people from humble backgrounds too.    

“The sacrifice is what fills you with desire to win.”

An already intense rivalry has reached new levels in recent seasons as under Diego Simeone Atletico's status and ability to challenge Real has grown.   

However, Atletico have consistently fallen short against Real in the Champions League.

Unless they pull off a remarkable comeback, Simeone's men will bow out of European competition against their fiercest rivals for the fourth consecutive season.

“If I needed to motivate the players for a game like tomorrow I would need to leave the club,” said Simeone.

“Tomorrow we face a very tough opponent that beat us 3-0 at their home, that beat us 3-0 in the first half of the season in the league and in two finales, one on penalties and the other equalising in the 93rd minute.

“It is clear it is a great challenge.”    

However, the size of Atletico's task is illustrated by the fact that Real have scored in all of their last 60 games stretching back over a year.   

“We have to defend well tomorrow. That will allow us to be in the game as long as possible,” insisted Simeone on the threat of a Real away goal that would force Atletico to score five.

“I know what we are capable of. I know these players, I've known them for five-and-a-half years and I have no doubt they are going to play well.”

No vertigo

Even by their standards, Real are on the verge of completing the most glorious season in the club's decorated history.  

Should Zinedine Zidane's men complete a La Liga and Champions League double, it will be Real's first since 1957/58.  

Moreover, they could become the first side in the Champions League era to retain the trophy.

And Ramos insisted he is relishing a challenging end to the campaign rather than wilting under the pressure.  

“There is no feeling of vertigo. The contrary, it is in our own hands,” added the Spanish international.

“The good part of the season is coming, there are two weeks left and we'll see what happens in the end.

“I would settle to be in this position every year.”  

After 50 years at the Calderon, Atletico move to the new 67,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano next season.

And Atletico captain Gabi admitted giving their historic home a memorable send-off adds even extra spice to Wednesday's clash.  

“It is an even extra motive to think and feel the possibility of a comeback, even though we have an adverse result,” he said.    

“The other day at the Bernabeu after losing 3-0 all you heard were the Atletico fans. It gave me goosebumps.  

“The fans shows us so much love and support, we have to show we can match their standards.”

Zidane is expected to resort back to the side that started the first leg after making nine changes for Saturday's 4-0 win at Granada bar the introduction of Nacho for the injured Dani Carvajal at right-back.  

Gareth Bale remains sidelined with a calf injury.  

Atletico's injury crisis at right-back is expected to be resolved by the return of Juanfran after three weeks out.

Otherwise, Simeone is also expected to name the same side that started the first leg.

By Kieran Canning / AFP


Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.