Ramos calls for calm in Real camp
Sergio Ramos says it is time for everyone at Real Madrid to put their egos aside and concentrate on May 17's Copa del Rey final against local rivals Atletico Madrid.
Real have been convulsed by drama since their Champions League semi-final exit to Borussia Dortmund last month, with coach Jose Mourinho, president Florentino Perez, captain Iker Casillas and defender Pepe all feeding the flames with their various comments. Outsiders including Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and former Los Blancos midfielder Michel have also had their say as the drama drags on from day to day.
Thursday saw lip readers hired by Spanish TV claiming that Cristiano Ronaldo shouted "go f*** yourself" towards his own bench after scoring against Malaga the previous night, and Iniesta's father saying Mourinho "does not know respect or shame".
In an attempt to calm things down the usual pre-game press conference ahead of Saturday's La Liga game at Espanyol was cancelled, and the club's vice-captain says he wants everyone to concentrate their efforts on ensuring neighbours Atletico are defeated in next weekend's final at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
"Maybe it is the moment to say enough already with the controversies, about the boss, Iker, Pepe...," Ramos told La Sexta, while attending the Madrid Open tennis tournament. "Now we need to look for unity in the team, and think about the final, which is the important thing. It is the moment to put aside individual egos and think about winning the final. After that, we will see."
The Spain international, who has not played since the second leg against Dortmund on April 30, said he remained hopeful of returning in time for the Copa final in eight days' time.
"I am getting better, the idea is to recover for the final," Ramos said. "I am in the middle of the process and hope to be able to play."
Playmaker Mesut Ozil is also a doubt for the first Madrid derbi final since 1992 after being stretchered off with an ankle injury late on Wednesday, although reports in Spain suggest the club expect him to recover in time.
Mourinho may shuffle his pack for Saturday's game at Espanyol, but he knows that if Real do not win it will confirm Barcelona as 2012-13 La Liga champions.
Defenders Raul Albiol and Fabio Coentrao are carrying knocks so Pepe - dropped from the squad for the Malaga game - could come back in at the Cornella-El Prat. Sami Khedira is nearing a return, so Xabi Alonso may be given a rest.