Ramos calm ahead of Liverpool test
Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos is confident his players will not be affected by the euphoria created by their impressive recent form when they host Liverpool in the Champions League tomorrow.
Not so long ago Madrid were a club in crisis, but since the arrival of the former Tottenham boss just prior to Christmas the Spanish giants have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in fortune.
Under Ramos, Madrid have won 10 out of 11 competitive matches and each of their last nine in the league, scoring 22 goals and conceding just two in the process.
That winning streak, combined with runaway leaders Barcelona slipping up in their last two matches, has seen second-placed Madrid cut the gap on their arch rivals from 12 points to seven in La Liga, and breathed life back into a title race that looked dead and buried.
It has also led to increased optimism and expectations amongst both the media and Madrid supporters, but Ramos is confident his players have their emotions under control.
"I think it's more an atmosphere of optimism than euphoria. We are calm and happy at how things are developing in the league because it gives us security and confidence going into games," Ramos said, whose side thrashed Real Betis 6-1 on Saturday with all the goals coming in the first half.
"Maybe some fans are more happy and euphoric than others but the dressing room isn't like that and I'm happy with the state of the team and the way the players are approaching the game.
"It is a very tough and difficult tie and we have to work hard to get through."
Ramos did admit his side need the fans to help make home advantage count right from the start tomorrow though, just like the Liverpool supporters are sure to do in the return leg at Anfield.
"I've no doubt that these types of games really appeal to the fans and they will be behind as at the Bernabeu," he said.
"We need the fans now when the tie is 0-0 and not when we are 3-0 up, and I know that they will be behind us throughout."
Madrid may head out onto the Bernabeu pitch tomorrow in good form domestically but there are still big question marks over their European credentials.
The Whites have been knocked out at the last-16 stage in each of the last four seasons, and they lost twice in the group stages this term before progressing as runners-up to Juventus.
Madrid, as nine-time winners of the competition, still remain one of the big names in the tournament, but Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, for one, does not believe they will be holding the trophy aloft again in May.
Speaking to French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, Ferguson said there was "no chance" of Madrid winning the Champions League this season, claiming they lacked pace as a team.
Ramos preferred not to react to that comment though, or the prediction of Madrid president Vicente Boluda that the Primera Liga champions would record a 5-1 aggregate win over Liverpool.
"It's the opinion of another coach, and just as I said earlier with the question about the president, I don't want to comment on it," he said.
"I'll talk about my team and I don't talk about what others say because I'm not a controversial coach and I'm not going to get into any of this."
The fitness of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was also a hot topic at today's press conference, with the England midfielder still a question mark despite travelling with the rest of the squad to Madrid.
Ramos knows the value Gerrard has to Liverpool but was keen to point out that Rafael Benitez's side are much more than just one player.
"Liverpool have very good players in general but it's as a team they are the most dangerous, they are very competitive," he said.
"If he plays he's fit. I wouldn't play an injured player and I don't think Rafa would either. He's an important player.
"(But) to be honest when I talk about the game I only talk about Real Madrid and to get the best out of my side.
"I don't talk about Liverpool hardly at all because I don't know how they are going to play or who is going to play.
"What I want is for us to do as well as possible. The only thing that I know about them is that they are going to play with 11 players."
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