dailymail: Sergio Ramos has revealed his ‘huge respect’ for Lionel Messi as the Real Madrid captain prepares his side for a mammoth clash against arch rivals Barcelona in La Liga.
The Spaniard had a game to forget in midweek as he saw red during his side’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie at the Bernebeu.
Wednesday night’s dismissal was Ramos’ 26th of his illustrious career and he will miss the return leg at the Etihad Stadium next month. Domestically, the centre half has a big part to play in a nip-and-tuck title race in La Liga.
Madrid host Barcelona on Sunday in what could be a decisive moment in the league this season, with the Catalan club sitting two points ahead of Los Blancos as it stands.
Ramos and Co will have to keep the imperious Lionel Messi quiet if they want to come away with a good result, and the 33-year-old spoke of his admiration for the diminutive Argentine.
‘I have huge respect for him,’ he told La Liga via Goal. ‘I think he’s one of the greatest players in history and I have huge respect for him. I hope Sunday isn’t his day, that would mean we’ve done our job, and if on top of that we can get a good result even better.
‘I wish him all the best as a fellow professional but only as long as it doesn’t affect us negatively! It’s hard, but he has my maximum respect, I think he’s one of the best.’
Sunday’s game will see Ramos notch the most Clasico appearances by any player, as he will pass the 42 appearances made by Xavi, Sanchis and Gento.
‘To be the player with the most El Clásico appearances is a massive source of joy. I hope that I can go on and play in many more. That’d be a good sign, because it’d mean that I was here for many more years,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘It’s not just any other game. Despite there just being three points at stake, as there is in every game, El Clásico is a game unlike any other. Beating Barcelona would bring us great joy. What’s more, it usually has a really positive impact on the group in terms of morale.’
Source: Published by dailymail