Sergio Ramos

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Ramos interviews himself to discuss Madrid crisis

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MADRID (AP) With Real Madrid still recovering from one of the worst weeks in club history, team captain Sergio Ramos felt some issues needed to be addressed publicly.

So he did it himself.

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In a self-interview posted on Instagram, Ramos talked about the “disastrous” recent events that ended Madrid’s hopes of winning another title this season. The Spanish team collapsed in a week in which it twice lost to Barcelona and once to Ajax, being eliminated from the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, and seeing its Spanish league title chances all but end.

“As footballers we like to do our talking on the pitch but this season is not turning out that way,” Ramos wrote on Monday in English. “I’m not hiding. We are not hiding. We the players are primarily responsible and I, as captain, more than anyone. That’s why I thought that the most honest way to answer the questions that are circulating around us would be to tackle them directly.”

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He said forcing a yellow card in the first leg against Ajax – so he could be available for later phases of the competition – was “an error and I take the blame 200 percent.”

He downplayed a supposed heated discussion with president Florentino Perez following the 4-1 loss to the Dutch club at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, saying “dressing room issues are discussed and resolved in the dressing room. There’s no problem whatsoever and everybody has the same interest: Real Madrid.”

He also addressed criticism for allowing a film crew to shoot a documentary about him during the Ajax match at the Bernabeu.

“There are certain commitments made and it never remotely went through my head that the game could have turned out as it did,” he said. “The recording itself was scaled down as the game went on.”

Ramos also dismissed having a problem with left back Marcelo after reports surfaced about a discussion between the veteran players during a recent practice session.

“We have exchanges in every training session,” he said. “It’s part of working with pressure. But it’s just an anecdote like so many others that happen from day to day. (Marcelo) is like a brother to me.”

Ramos could not play in Madrid’s 4-1 win at Valladolid on Sunday because of a suspension, but made the trip with the squad because he “wanted to be close and support my teammates.”

He said he didn’t criticize the rest of the squad after the consecutive home losses that practically ended the team’s season.

“We always talk and motivate each other in the dressing room and always in a constructive way,” he said.

Ramos also commented about Madrid’s coaching situation, with Santiago Solari on the brink of being fired.

“It’s a decision that’s not ours to make and in which we never interfere,” Ramos said. “We have enormous respect for the position and we always support the Real Madrid coach.”

Ramos closed his post by saying “these reflections are, without doubt, the result of a deeply disappointing season but if success didn’t stop us, we’re not going to let defeat stop us. It’s our obligation to carry on, to work and to evolve.”

“And to remember that some of us are lucky enough to play for (at)realmadrid, some of us are lucky enough to form part of its history, but (hash)RealMadrid was, is and will always be (hash)RealMadrid. No one name makes the legend of Real Madrid, but we have all written that legend together. Together we have to work for the future and restore our hope.”

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Suarez double wins El Clasico at Real, sends Barca to Copa del Rey final

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Luis Suarez’s brace, the second goal a panenka penalty, gave Barcelona a 3-0 win at Madrid and a shot at its fifth-straight tournament title.

The victory came despite the hosts boasting a 14-4 advantage in shot attempts.

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Suarez’s 50th minute goal put Barcelona ahead in the game and level in the tie after a 1-1 first leg at the Camp Nou.

Away goals have a way of turning two-legged ties on their ear, and Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal second leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Bernabeu is no exception.

Barca would’ve liked a bid to go up 2-0 on the day when Sergio Ramos took down Ivan Rakitic, but no call arrived for the visitors.

The Blaugranas got their insurance marker through Real defender Raphael Varane, who turned an Ousmane Dembele cross into his own goal.

And Suarez doubled his haul to complete the score line, with Barca now set to face either Valencia or Real Betis in search of its fifth-straight Copa del Rey.

Athletic Bilbao and Madrid FC are the only other sides to win four in-a-row.

La Liga: Real Madrid shocked again; Sevilla in freefall

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

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Real Madrid 1-2 GironaMORE

Madrid’s five-game winning streak is no more after Santiago Solari’s side suffered yet another embarrassing defeat on the season, this time at home to 15th-place Girona.

Sergio Ramos added yet another red card to his record tally — he now has 20 in La Liga play — with his side already 2-1 down after throwing away an early lead. Casemiro put Los Blancos ahead after 25 minutes, and win no. 6 appeared a foregone conclusion until it all fell apart in the second half. Cristhian Stuani converted from the penalty spot in the 65th minute — made possible by Ramos’ first yellow card — and Portu completed the comeback in the 75th.

The defeat sees Madrid slip below Atletico Madrid in the race for second place, now nine points back of leaders Barcelona. El Clasico is two weeks away, at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, March 2.

Villarreal 3-0 Sevilla

Once upon a time, Sevilla were the closest challengers to Barca’s crown. Now, following a third straight defeat — and having won just once in their last eight league games — Pablo Machin’s side is in an uncontrollable freefall.

18th-place Villarreal piled on the misery on Sunday, thrashing Sevilla to the tune of 3-0 and never letting the once-title hopefuls have a sniff of the game. Alvaro Gonzalez put the home side ahead after 20 minutes; Karl Toko Ekambi doubled the lead in the first minute following the halftime restart; Alfonso Pedraza completed the rout in the 86th.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Valencia 0-0 Espanyol
Real Betis 1-1 Alaves

UEFA investigating Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos for intentional yellow card

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Sergio Ramos could be in hot water in Champions League play.

The Real Madrid defender, known for his fiery play and widespread hateability, is being investigated by UEFA for intentionally earning a yellow card in the dying minutes of Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Dutch club Ajax on Wednesday.

The yellow card, earned in the 89th minute for a trip of Ajax youngster Kasper Dolberg, earns Ramos a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation, having earned three cautions since the start of group stage play. All cards are wiped clean after the quarterfinals match, so Ramos may have intentionally earned a caution with Madrid in a good position heading into the home leg instead of risking a suspension in the following round against a stronger opponent.

Adding to the case against the Spaniard are his comments immediately after the match, where he reportedly told media members, “Looking at the result, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t force [the booking]. It is not to underestimate the opponent nor to think that the series is over, but in football you have to make tough decisions.” Ramos then backtracked his comments, writing on Twitter to deny that he earned the caution intentionally.

In addition, there is apparently footage of Ramos during the game asking his teammates if he should indeed look to earn a card.

UEFA could up his standard one-match ban to a two-match suspension if they determine he did indeed intentionally look to earn a caution. There is recent precedent for this, having handed down punishment to Ramos’s Real Madrid teammate Dani Carvajal for such a violation in the final minutes of a 6-0 win over APOEL Nicosia during last year’s tournament.

Barcelona, Real Madrid roll in La Liga action

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Barcelona extended its lead at the top of the La Liga table to eight points, while Real Madrid climbed into third as both Spanish giants won in convincing fashion on Sunday.

Lionel Messi found the scoresheet as Barcelona topped Girona 2-0 at Estadi Montilivi. Nelson Semedo grabbed his first goal in a Barcelona shirt just nine minutes in as a sloppy goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall right to the 25-year-old’s feet and he ripped it home low inside the right post.

Girona managed to match Barcelona on the shot count and had numerous chances to score, including one by Pedro Alcala soon after Semedo’s goal, and another from Pere Pons just before halftime that required a goal-line clearance from Gerard Pique. In the 51st minute, Girona fell a man down when Bernardo Espinosa picked up a second yellow card for hacking down Luis Suarez, and that made it tough for the hosts to find a way back in.

Barcelona grabbed its second goal when Lionel Messi produced a spectacular chip over Bono in the 68th minute and that was all she wrote for Barcelona. Still, despite the win, under-fire attacker Philippe Coutinho continued his poor form, creating just one chance and not influencing the game as the fans expect him to in Ousmane Dembele’s absence.

Karim Benzema was the star for Real Madrid, scoring a pair as they won 4-2 over Espanyol on the road. Benzema struck first just four minutes in, collecting a rebound from a saved Luka Modric shot and redirecting it back into the net past a sprawled-out Diego Lopez. Sergio Ramos picked up Real Madrid’s second in the 15th minute with a powerful header, and Benzema restored the 2-goal lead in the 67th minute with a right-footed effort across the face of goal and into the bottom-right corner.

Gareth Bale gave Real Madrid a 4-1 lead, and Espanyol wouldn’t find its second consolation goal until late after Madrid had fallen a man down on a straight red card to Raphael Varane for a controversial last-man foul that may be rescinded later, as replays showed Varane never touched substitute Pablo Piatti who spilled to the turf after tripping himself just outside the box on a breakaway.

Madrid had troubles with referee Jesus Gil all day, with Ramos pushing his luck after a 26th minute yellow card, right in the referee’s face to argue his case. Overall, seven yellow cards and the one red were handed out in the match, with Madrid picking up five of those eight.