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Wenger: I give my Arsenal trophies away

By ESPN Staff

Real coach Ramos: I know Barcelona perfectly

Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos insists he does not need to take any tips from the way Chelsea nullified Barcelona's freescoring attack in their Champions League semi-final in midweek.

Chelsea became the first team to hold Barca goalless at the Nou Camp since Manchester United managed it at the same stage of the Champions League last season.

In their 53 other competitive games this season, Pep Guardiola's side have only failed to score on three occasions - against Wisla Krakow, Numancia and Espanyol.

It was an impressive feat by Chelsea against a team that has almost reached the 150-goal mark in La Liga, Copa del Rey and Europe this campaign, but Ramos claims he did not discover anything new about Barca in midweek.

"No, because I know Barca perfectly," said Ramos ahead of the Primera Division showdown between the two sides at the Bernabeu.

"It's difficult for either of Real Madrid or Barcelona to surprise each other. We know each other perfectly - the players, our characteristics...

"For me it isn't a surprise for (Andres) Iniesta to play in the middle or on the left. Or if either (Sergi) Busquets or (Yaya) Toure plays. And for Guardiola is wouldn't be a surprise to see Raul play up front or just off the striker.

"The only thing that would be a surprise is if (Barca goalkeeper) Victor Valdes plays centre-forward!"

Madrid are the two-time reigning champions in Spain, but they are playing catch-up to Barca this season and go into tomorrow's match trailing by four points with only five games remaining.

Barca also currently hold the upper hand in the head-to-head record between the two superpowers, having won 2-0 at home back in December in what was Ramos' first league game in charge of Madrid.

That means Madrid have little choice but to try to win the three points tomorrow, with Ramos admitting any other result would virtually gift the title to Barca.

"It's a very important match for Madrid. If we don't win the league will be decided, if not mathematically then practically," he said. "It's quite a bit more important for us than Barcelona. Whatever happens, they will remain in first place and if we don't win our chances of catching them are reduced enormously."

The fact Madrid even have a chance of keeping their league crown is testament to the remarkable turnaround in form Ramos has masterminded since taking over from Bernd Schuster late last year.

The 2-0 defeat to Barca saw Madrid slip 12 points adrift of their rivals, but since then the capital club have claimed 52 from a possible 54 points to put Guardiola's men under increasing pressure.

When asked if he thought Madrid could be so close at this stage of the season, Ramos told Marca: "Throughout my career I've always liked to set short-term objectives.

"Taking it game by game, Madrid are capable of beating any team. This point of view has worked very well, we are accustomed to that and we don't think about anything more than the following game.

"It doesn't serve any purpose to think about Valencia, Villarreal, Mallorca or Pamplona (Osasuna) if we don't win tomorrow."


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