'El Clasico is a game unlike any other' – Beating Barcelona brings 'great joy', admits Ramos

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The Real Madrid defender is looking forward to a vital showdown against the Blaugrana at Santiago Bernabeu this weekend

Real Madrid’s Clasico meetings with Barcelona are not the same as “any other game”, according to Sergio Ramos, who insists “the whole experience is different” when Spanish football’s two greatest clubs face off.

Madrid will be aiming to leapfrog their arch rivals in the La Liga standings by securing a much-needed three points at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane’s men suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat away at Levante last weekend, which allowed Barca to move two points clear at the summit by thrashing Eibar 5-0 at Camp Nou.

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The Blancos followed up that result with another humbling in the Champions League, as reigning Premier League champions Manchester City earned a 2-1 victory in the Spanish capital on Wednesday.

Madrid hadn’t lost a game since October prior to this week, but their pursuit of domestic and European silverware is now hanging in the balance, with another setback at the hands of Barca now an unthinkable prospect.

Ramos admits a win over Quique Setien’s side would bring “great joy” to the squad heading into a crucial period of the season, with the stakes always higher against their fiercest foes.

“It’s not just any other game,” the Madrid captain said of the time-honoured fixture.

“Despite there just being three points at stake, as there is in every game, El Clasico 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.

“Both teams know that and it’s something that we have to deal with as best we can to turn it into an incentive that drives you on to victory.

“Right from the start of the week, the whole experience is different. It brings a lot of media attention, but that’s also what makes this game so great, La Liga, the players… The feeling you get is one that comes from inside, it’s really hard to explain.”

Ramos added on how pivotal this weekend’s encounter could be in terms of where the La Liga crown ends up come May: “It’ll be very evenly contested, on account of the stage of the season we’re at and because there’s hardly any difference in terms of the points we have.

“It could be pivotal or not, depending on the result, but I think that there’s still a really long way to go in the La Liga season. There’s a lot of points to play for and anything can happen.

“It’ll be really important for us to win at home, in front of our fans, which is also an added motivation for us and will give us greater satisfaction if we win. We’re stronger with them behind us and that has to show. Let’s hope that we can make a statement and win at home.

“It’s true that La Liga is very competitive, but we’re going to be fighting for the title. We’re really excited by the prospect of winning it, and we’re therefore focused on performing to our best.

“La Liga gets more difficult by the year and it’s ever more evenly matched. Today you can’t go out saying that you’re going to win at every ground, because that’s not true. Any of the teams can cause you problems.

“That’s also what makes the Spanish top flight special and it makes it so much more exciting. It’ll give us even great satisfaction if we win the title.”

Zidane has transformed Madrid back into trophy contenders since returning to the club in March 2019, and Ramos hopes another “era of great triumphs” will be enjoyed under the Frenchman in the coming years.

“He’s an excellent coach, not only on account of his record and all of the trophies we’ve won under him,” he said.

“He spent many years here as a player and has a really good command of life in the dressing room. Not everyone is able to manage a dressing room, or at least not in such a natural way as he does.

“Regardless of whether they get more or less game time, he’s got all of the players motivated and that’s one of his big strengths. He knows exactly what he can get out of each of us and I see him as being the perfect coach for a team like Real Madrid. Here’s hoping that we can enjoy another era of great triumphs with him.”

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