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Jan 3, 2013

Ramos: Real refreshed after winter break

Sergio Ramos believes La Liga's winter break came at a good time for Real Madrid to refocus their minds, and is targeting two quick wins in order to help foster a more positive outlook for the rest of the season.

• Blog: Should Real strengthen?
• Hunter: Five storylines for 2013
• Blog: Madrid's clean(ish) slate

Speaking as Madrid officially denied Spanish media reports they had contacted a private polling company to discover club members' attitudes towards manager Jose Mourinho and possible replacements, Ramos said he hoped the time off over Christmas had allowed everyone to calm down and concentrate on putting things right on the pitch.

"When results do not come, you must keep a cool head and not act on impulse," Ramos told reporters after Thursday's training session. "In football you can have a bad run and maybe in the last games things did not go as we wanted.

"Above all in front of goal we were not as efficient as last season, but the holidays gave us a chance to reflect and demand more of ourselves, me too. Maybe we can give more. But we are on a good path and the attitude is always good."

Sunday's home game against Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu should see Iker Casillas returned to the Madrid goal, after his surprise dropping for the 2-3 loss at Malaga in Madrid's last game of 2012.

Ramos, who was himself 'rested' by Mourinho earlier this season amid rumours of dressing-room discord, said players learned how to deal with these things during their career.

"Madrid teaches you things from day to day," he said. "I am the first one in that. I arrived here young (19) and I am lucky to be at the best team in the world for instilling values.

"These are technical decisions [made by Mourinho] and we have nothing to do with them. As Iker said, we are not machines and we have [good and bad] moments. But above all these are technical decisions and there is nothing more to say."

Given Ramos is suspended this weekend, and Pepe faces a month out after undergoing an ankle operation on Wednesday in Portugal, Madrid look likely to start Sunday's game with Ricardo Carvalho, 34, and Raphael Varane, 19, as their central-defensive partnership.

"Of course the injury to a great player [like Pepe] will have an effect," Ramos said. "He has been key for us and we will miss him. [But Varane] has tremendous qualities. He can be a great footballer. He is learning from the players here. He is a Madrid quality centre-half."

With Marcelo still sidelined with a broken foot, Fabio Coentrao looks set to play at left-back, despite being reportedly fined by the club for showing up late for training on New Year's Day and reportedly put up for sale according to Spanish paper AS.

Ramos did not comment on the Coentrao speculation, but said he was looking forward to a win against Sociedad, and overutning a 2-1 first-leg deficit to progress against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey next Wednesday to help the team return to form ahead of the eagerly awaited last-16 clashes with Manchester United in the Champions League.

"There is no better way to begin the year than putting together some wins," he said. "That gets back some normality. That is what we want, primarily. It is true that the league is difficult, but not impossible. Obviously there is a lot of love here for the Champions League, and we will try and go for that to bring back more joy for the fans."

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