Sergio Ramos has joked there should be one Ballon d'Or award for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - and an alternative trophy for the rest of the world's footballers to fight over.

Real Madrid captain Ramos has a stack of individual accolades alongside the host of trophies he has won in his Santiago Bernabeu career.

But like so many great players of the last 12 years, he has been put in the shade by Messi and Ronaldo when it comes to the biggest awards.

From 2008, when Ronaldo first landed the Ballon d'Or, through to Messi scooping the honour earlier this month, the pair have had a near total duopoly, interrupted only in 2018 by Luka Modric's success.

Ronaldo has taken the prize five times and Messi six, prompting Ramos to jest that the pair should be left alone to slug it out for one trophy, while giving everyone else a chance of taking another.

"They could make a Ballon d'Or only for Cristiano and Messi depending on results...and another for the rest," Ramos told Mexican broadcaster TUDN. "In the end it would be better for football."

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk split Barcelona star Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo this year, taking second place in the vote conducted by France Football magazine.

But the star goal-getters have been the dominant figures in the world game for over a decade, establishing a rivalry for who will be remembered as the greatest of their generation.

Ramos played alongside Ronaldo for many years at Madrid, before the Portuguese moved to Italy in July 2018.

At the age of 33, and as he approaches 15 years as a Madrid player, the captain of Spain is targeting next year's Olympic Games football tournament and sees himself playing on for several seasons yet.

"I will play until the excitement goes, but my excitement is very great," Ramos said, according to Marca. "I will make the most of everything football has to offer for as long as I feel good. I look after myself well and I hope to continue for many years."

Dani Carval was the unlikely match-winner for Real Madrid as a gritty 2-1 victory at Deportivo Alaves took them top of LaLiga on Saturday.

The right-back prodded home at the end of a chaotic 17-minute period at a sodden Mendizorroza that saw the two sides share three second-half goals.

Sergio Ramos scored first, nodding in Toni Kroos' free-kick, then turned villain with a foul on Joselu that allowed Lucas Perez to restore parity from the spot.

Madrid rose to the challenge and restored their advantage three minutes after the equaliser to go three points clear of Barcelona, who visit Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Eden Hazard's ankle injury opened the door for Gareth Bale to make his first start since October 5 and the winger almost made an early contribution, his deflected header hitting the post in the 10th minute.

Eder Militao was involved in two Alaves penalty shouts either side of that chance, the first resulting in Aleix Vidal being booked for simulation when there appeared to be a slight trip.

The rain intensified after an error-strewn first half and, in the 52nd minute, Madrid raised their level.

Kroos curled an inviting free-kick into the box and Ramos glanced it beyond goalkeeper Pacheco for his fifth goal of the season in all competitions.

It took just 13 minutes for the centre-back to undo his good work.

Ramos raised a hand to Joselu's face in the box and Perez sent Alphonse Areola, chosen ahead of Thibaut Courtois, the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.

Madrid were tasked with responding and Carvajal delivered the decisive goal in quick fashion, prodding home the winner at point-blank range after Pacheco blocked an Isco header on the line.

Alaves pressed hard for a second leveller but desperate goal-line interventions from Marcelo and Areola in the closing stages denied both Perez and Manu Garcia, before Federico Valverde missed a clear chance for a third in the dying seconds.

Sergio Ramos described Spain's 7-0 demolition of Malta as an "unforgettable night" as the Real Madrid star received a special salute from the Cadiz crowd on Friday.

Ramos captained Robert Moreno's side to an emphatic victory at Estadio Ramon de Carranza that ensured they will finish top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group F.

First-half goals from Alvaro Morata and Santi Cazorla put Spain, who had already booked a spot at the European Championship, on track for three points before the floodgates opened in the second half, with Pablo Sarabia, Gerard Moreno and Jesus Navas all scoring along with debutants Pau Torres and Dani Olmo.

Ramos was honoured before kick-off with a tifo in the stands, having broken Iker Casillas' record for all-time Spain appearances in last month's draw with Norway.

The 33-year-old felt he was unlikely to forget the occasion of his 169th international match.

"This win is the best present. It's a great personal joy and a good night for the national team," said Ramos.

"Malta were very deep from the first minute of the game. We paid attention to the coach's instructions, played down the wings so we could influence the play between the lines and open them up.

"I'm happy in general for the goals, for the debutants and for our qualification.

"I'm very grateful to Cadiz for their support. Hopefully, in Madrid, people will also turn out for the national team.

"We're all delighted with the victory, the atmosphere, the crowd, everything. For me, it's been an unforgettable night."

Spain conclude their qualifying campaign against Romania at the Wanda Metropolitano on Monday.

Sergio Ramos has reiterated his desire to represent Spain at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Captain for club and country, Real Madrid defender Ramos is Spain's most-capped player, with 168 appearances on the international stage. 

He has never participated at the Olympics, however, where the football tournament is comprised of under-23 squads allowed to select three over-aged players.

Ramos' long-time international centre-back partner Gerard Pique has also voiced his desire to take part at Tokyo 2020, despite having retired from duty with Spain after the 2018 World Cup

"It makes me excited to always represent Spain. Like Pique, all the players who could play an Olympic Games with Spain would do it," Ramos told a news conference ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Malta – Robert Moreno's side already assured of their place at the finals.

"First there is a Euro and then we will see, but I am excited because it is something I have never experienced."

Another of Ramos' colleagues during a glorious era with Spain, David Villa, announced this week that he will retire in January, concluding a career in which he became his country's all-time record goalscorer. 

"He is a legend, one of the best players in Spain and the world," Ramos said of the former Valencia and Barcelona forward, who was a key member of Spain's triumphant campaigns at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

"I congratulate him on his career and for everything he has given for Spain and the teams in which he has played."

Ramos will turn 34 in March but is not considering hanging up his boots just yet. 

In fact, he has designs on taking one more shot at World Cup glory in 2022.

"As long as football allows me and I am physically well and looking forward, I will not anticipate [my retirement]," he added.

"We have a wonderful Euro ahead of us. I would like to reach the World Cup. I want to win again with Spain."

Carlos Marchena believes former Spain team-mate and Real Madrid great Sergio Ramos would relish the opportunity to represent his country at next year's Olympic Games.

Ramos, who became Spain's most capped player last month, has won the World Cup and two European Championships for his country, while the defender also has four Champions League medals with Madrid.

Yet he has never appeared at the Olympics, where under-23 teams are allowed to field three overage players.

Luis de la Fuente coaches Spain's Olympic team, who have qualified for the upcoming Games, and suggested he would be proud to coach Ramos, who has discussed the possibility of appearing.

Marchena, who played alongside Ramos for Spain until 2011, understands why Tokyo 2020 could be a target for the 33-year-old, likely representing his last opportunity to claim gold.

"I have the luck of knowing Sergio for many years," Marchena told Omnisport. "We came from the same place since we were children, we have many friends in common and I know him very well.

"Since he was a kid, you could already see what he is, a competitive animal. He always wants more, never gives up. Obviously he has made history, but he wants more.

"So all the challenges near him, he will want to accomplish them. Among those challenges are the Olympic Games.

"I am not the right person to decide, but I can tell you that he will fight to make history, to be the player with the most games played and [to] win everything, because he has this competitive gene."

Spain won the men's tournament at the 1992 Olympics and have twice collected silver medals.

Meanwhile, Ramos has earned 168 caps heading into the latest international break, with former Egypt winger Ahmed Hassan holding the all-time record on 184.

Karim Benzema maintained his impressive form with two first-half goals as Real Madrid eased to a 4-0 win at Eibar that takes them top of LaLiga.

Madrid suffered a 3-0 reverse on their last visit to Ipurua 12 months ago but were comfortable winners in Saturday's clash thanks to the impressive form of Benzema, who made it nine league goals for the season.

The 31-year-old gave the visitors a 17th-minute lead and doubled his tally from the penalty spot before the half-hour mark after Sergio Ramos had also converted from 12 yards.

Federico Valverde added a fourth for Zinedine Zidane's men, who climbed above Barcelona and surprise package Real Sociedad into top spot.

Madrid had won only two of 10 away league games since Zidane's return as coach but did not take long to assert their authority in the Basque Country, Valverde teeing up Benzema to convert the opener from close range.

Ramos tucked away the first of his side's penalties three minutes later after Pablo de Blasis stuck out a leg and tripped Eden Hazard inside the box.

Madrid put the game out of Eibar's reach with 29 minutes played, Benzema matching Ramos in sending Marko Dmitrovic the wrong way from the spot following Cote's challenge on Lucas Vazquez.

After a slow start to the second half, Madrid soon clicked into gear and had a fourth goal through Valverde's side-footed finish into the bottom-right corner.

Eibar struggled to muster much of a fight in the remainder of the match as Zidane's men claimed a fifth clean sheet in a row in all competitions.


What does it mean? Madrid move top of LaLiga

Last weekend's goalless home draw with Real Betis, two weeks on from a 1-0 loss away at Real Mallorca, led to fresh talk of a crisis at Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Madrid beat Galatasaray 6-0 in midweek and were just as impressive here, this win taking them three points above Barcelona, who play their game in hand against Celta Vigo later on Saturday.

Benzema surpasses Puskas

Benzema has now netted 11 goals in all competitions this season, this latest brace lifting him above the iconic Ferenc Puskas up to sixth on Madrid's list of all-time LaLiga scorers.

He also scored a double against Eibar in April and has been directly involved in nine goals in his nine LaLiga games against them.

Orellana struggles to make an impact

Fabian Orellana has been directly involved in five of Eibar's last six goals in LaLiga, but he failed to register a shot of any note prior to being replaced 25 minutes from time.

What's next?

Madrid's first match back after the international break is a home meeting with Real Sociedad on November 23, while Eibar host Deportivo Alaves the following day.

Sergio Ramos acknowledged Real Madrid wasted an opportunity to make a statement in LaLiga after their goalless draw with Real Betis.

Madrid would have moved top - clear of Barcelona by two points - with a victory on Saturday but failed to take their chances in a subdued encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Betis' Joel Robles made some fine saves late on, having initially denied Ramos an opener just before half-time, while Ferland Mendy also passed up a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock as Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw for the first time under Zinedine Zidane.

Captain Ramos insisted Los Blancos did all they could to carve out a lead but shrugged off the suggestion LaLiga's traditional big three of Madrid, Barca and Atletico Madrid are beginning to falter, despite all three sides failing to win on Saturday.

"Nothing's happening, that's just football, it's not easy," Ramos told Movistar. "Today, Levante beat Barcelona, you can't expect to win any game, whoever you're playing against.

"Our league is the best in the world, we're fortunate to be playing in it and we try to do our best.

"Today was a good opportunity to become the leaders, with the other results. We fought for the result from the first minute but couldn't take the goal.

"The attitude and work in defence was good. You have to give credit to Betis too, they're a team who like to keep the ball and play football, it's not easy.

"It's a bittersweet feeling to get just one point, we've lost an opportunity to go first and take the lead."

Betis' standout performer Robles, meanwhile, believes Saturday's draw - on the back of their victory over Celta Vigo - can provide the struggling Andalusian side with a much-needed morale boost after they lost four of their previous five LaLiga matches before Saturday.

"We are happy with the work of the boys, it gives confidence, it's a good point in a tough stadium to come to," said Robles.

"We're happy for the point and we needed to get one here. We need to get more confidence, we're still not at our highest level, but we're going to keep working.

"We were in a bad run, but we got the victory over Celta and now this result will give us confidence. We have to enjoy this point, rest and then in a week we have the derby."

Karim Benzema had a hand in three goals as he inspired Real Madrid to a 5-0 win over Leganes in LaLiga on Wednesday.

With last weekend's scheduled Clasico against Barcelona postponed due to political tension in Catalonia, Madrid appeared to have fun on their return to action as they toyed with rock-bottom Leganes, who had no answer to the classy Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Frenchman was central to a brutal Madrid start that saw them lead 2-0 within eight minutes – Benzema setting up Rodrygo Goes and Toni Kroos, before Sergio Ramos got in on the act from the spot.

Benzema eventually got a deserved goal of his own from 12 yards, taking him to seven for the season, and Luka Jovic finally got his first goal for the club in stoppage time as Los Blancos moved up to second – behind Barcelona – in the table.

Madrid looked in the mood right from the start and quickly charged into their two-goal lead, as Benzema teed up Rodrygo for a straightforward finish, before Kroos' deft flick from the striker's low cross left Juan Soriano with no chance.

Ramos increased the deficit in the 24th minute with a penalty, though he needed two opportunities as Soriano – who conceded the spot-kick for fouling Eden Hazard – was penalised via VAR for coming off his line when saving the Madrid captain's first attempt.

Benzema went agonisingly close to a fine goal just past the hour when his 25-yard strike came back off Soriano's left-hand post.

But Soriano had no such luck soon after when Benzema slammed home a cool penalty, won by Luka Modric after a clumsy tackle by Kenneth Omeruo.

Jovic wrapped up an emphatic victory late on, meeting Dani Carvajal's cross with a fine header to get off the mark for Madrid in his 10th outing.

 

What does it mean? Normal service restored in LaLiga

When promoted Granada sat top of the table at the weekend, there was certainly a feeling of refreshing unpredictability in LaLiga.

But, with Barca demolishing Real Valladolid on Tuesday and Madrid making light work of Leganes, the traditional heavyweights lead the way again at the summit.

Benzema bullies Leganes' backline

What a renaissance Benzema is enjoying. He has always been a very good link-up striker, providing plenty of assists across his Madrid career, but his display on Wednesday was quintessential Benzema. He worked selflessly and laid on two assists in a fine performance, capping it off with a well-taken penalty.

A miserable day for Omeruo

It was a day to forget for many of Leganes' back five, but Omeruo was particularly hapless, struggling to pick up Benzema several times and then tripping Modric for the second penalty.

What's next?

Madrid are at home again on Saturday as Real Betis are the visitors. On Sunday, Leganes host fellow strugglers Eibar, as they look to close the gap to the teams above them.

Spain Under-21 coach Luis de la Fuente is ready to welcome Sergio Ramos into his plans for next year's Olympic Games.

Real Madrid captain Ramos admitted this month he would find it hard to turn down the chance to represent his country in Tokyo, even though Euro 2020 will finish less than two weeks before the Games begins.

The centre-back would be eligible to be selected as one of Spain's over-age stars, with each nation permitted to select a maximum of three players born before January 1, 1997, in their Olympics squad.

De la Fuente, who will coach the team in Japan, says he would find it hard to turn down Ramos, who will be 34 when the tournament gets under way on July 23.

"I'm proud. I'm proud that he, like other players who have a great international and footballing background, is willing to be able to come with us, that we have the possibility of selecting them," De la Fuente told 20 Minutos.

"All football lovers should be emotional and proud that these footballers are ready to come to such an important event as the Olympic Games.

"Do you believe Ramos is one of the best players in the world? Well, I'm not going to say 'no' to the best players in the world."

Ramos, who made his international debut in 2005, became Spain's record appearance-maker this month when he won his 168th senior cap in the 1-1 Euro 2020 draw with Norway.

"I would have happily traded this 168th cap for a victory," Ramos said after breaking the record held by Iker Casillas. "But this record is a great reward after so many years and it's a great source of huge pride.

"I am emotional every time I put on this shirt. That will not change and I hope to continue doing so for many years."

The former Sevilla defender has won the European Under-19 Championship, Euro 2008, Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup in an illustrious international career.

Sergio Ramos' late goal in Real Madrid's Champions League final victory over Atletico Madrid in 2014 may have altered the history of European football, according to Luka Modric.

Madrid trailed to Diego Godin's opener when Ramos forced extra time with a dramatic 93rd-minute header at Estadio da Luz.

Gareth Bale put Carlo Ancelotti's side in front and further goals followed from Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo to seal a 4-1 victory in Lisbon. 

It was Madrid's 10th European Cup - known as 'La Decima' - but their first in 12 years after a series of near misses.

The Spanish giants have since added three more Champions Leagues to their collection, but Modric is unsure whether it would have been possible if not for Ramos' famous goal.

"It's difficult to make such judgements. I don't know," he told Club del Deportista. "It may be the case that this goal changed the history of European football. Real Madrid had already won a lot of trophies, but they hadn't lifted the Champions League trophy for 12 years. 

"This goal changed something, the mentality changed. From that moment we started to be very strong in Europe and teams were afraid of us again. That shows how important mentality is in football. 

"People had spent 12 years talking about La Decima and it became a mental thing. [Jose] Mourinho went to three semi-finals and it was hard to overcome this mental barrier.

"When we reached the final and to win it with that goal, it still gives me goosebumps, we showed such strong character and never gave up."

Modric broke Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or stranglehold by winning football's most prestigious individual accolade in 2018.

It capped a memorable year that saw him win his third successive Champions League with Madrid and help Croatia to a first World Cup final, where they were beaten by France.

"That was a recognition of my entire career, but a very special year in particular," Modric said of winning the award. 

"I was lucky enough to win the Champions League again, which isn't easy, and I also reached the World Cup final with a country like Croatia, which for us is something that words just can't describe. 

"I don't like to talk about myself, but I think that, in the individual sense, I played a very good season and the footballing people have recognised that. It's no coincidence when so many people vote for you."

David Beckham hailed record-breaking Sergio Ramos after the Spain captain broke the country's appearance record.

Ramos surpassed Iker Casillas' record by earning his 168th cap in Spain's 1-1 draw with Norway in Euro 2020 qualifying on Saturday.

The 33-year-old defender, who debuted in 2005, equalled the record last month before making his landmark appearance away to Norway.

Former Real Madrid team-mate Beckham congratulated Ramos in an Instagram video, which said: "My friend, mi amigo.

"This is an incredible moment for you. I just wanted to send you a message because you've played 168 games for your country.

"You must be very proud. Your family must be very proud. It's an incredible moment, passing Iker.

"So, I'm very happy for you and your family. Congratulations my friend, a kiss for you. Enjoy the night.

"Lots of love my friend and congratulations."

Sergio Ramos was hailed as an "incredible" servant to Spain by coach Robert Moreno after becoming the most-capped player in the team's history.

Ramos made his 168th international appearance in a 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifier away to Norway on Saturday, edging ahead of his former Real Madrid and international team-mate Iker Casillas.

The defender has won two European Championship titles and a World Cup with Spain and has indicated he wants to play at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo, while he previously set reaching 200 caps as a target.

While the Olympics starts less than two weeks after Euro 2020 ends, complicating Ramos' potential schedule for next year, Moreno praised the Spain skipper for his continued desire.

"Ramos' record is incredible," Moreno told a news conference. "And he still wants to compete, win titles.

"I want to congratulate him publicly and hopefully he can give us joy for much longer."

Among the celebrations for Ramos there was disappointment for Spain at Ullevaal Stadion, though, as Joshua King's second-half stoppage-time penalty prevented La Roja from sealing a spot at the finals with three games still to play.

Bournemouth striker King struck from the spot after Kepa Arrizabalaga's clumsy challenge on Omar Elabdellaoui saw referee Michael Oliver point to the spot.

"I'm left with a bad feeling because when you concede an equaliser at the end it is not good," Moreno added. "We tried to have the ball and control, and in the last minutes we had to kill the game.

"I liked the attitude of the team, but not the first half. In the second half we have tightened up more, we generated opportunities to score the second goal ... but in the end the control has been lost."

Spain will have another chance to secure qualification when they travel to play Sweden on Tuesday.

Moreno said: "We are going to try to win in Sweden, and we are going to try to score 28 points [in the group campaign] since we will not be able to get 30. Norway have been very strong, and played with the ambition of a team that still has options [to qualify].

"They go crazy when there is a team that has nothing to lose, and that's what happened to Norway."

Spain's line-up to face Norway included players from 11 different clubs, with Moreno accepting it might be beneficial were clubs such as LaLiga giants Barcelona or Real Madrid providing more talent to his squad.

"We have many players from many teams," he added. "I would love to have seven players from the same team, who will play together every week ... but that is not the case.

"It is a statistic that I did not know, but it means we have many good players in many good teams."

Sergio Ramos says he would not turn down the chance to play for Spain at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Reports this week suggested Spain's skipper, who has already won the World Cup and European Championship titles, was keen to represent his country in Tokyo.

Taking part in the tournament could be complicated for Ramos given the Olympics begin less than two weeks after the Euro 2020 final is played at Wembley.

Real Madrid defender Ramos, however, indicated he is willing to balance a busy schedule for the chance to add another international honour to his record.

"It is early to talk about the Olympic Games," he said on Saturday. "But anyone who had the chance and was called to play in the Games would not say no.

"It is something you cannot refuse. There is a lot of the season left and it is a very nice idea."

Ramos was speaking after Spain's 1-1 draw away to Norway in a Euro 2020 qualifier, the captain making his 168th international appearance.

That moved him above former club and country team-mate Iker Casillas as Spain's most-capped player but Ramos said he would have swapped the milestone for a victory, which would have secured La Roja's place at Euro 2020.

"The personal is secondary," he added. "I would have changed the record for the victory.

"It is a pride to be the Spaniard who has worn this shirt more times, which I still hope to wear much more.

"It was a shame we drew. Norway have taken advantage of the last minutes, and in one play they tied us.

"I'm sad, because we would have liked to achieve the qualification."

Sergio Ramos has become the most-capped player in Spain's history, eclipsing Iker Casillas' record by making his 168th appearance for La Roja.

Ramos was included in Robert Moreno's XI for a Euro 2020 qualifier away to Norway on Saturday, with qualification in their sights.

When he equalled Casillas' record last month, Ramos indicated he has a landmark appearance in mind before following former centre-back partner Gerard Pique into international retirement.

"Records are there to be broken," said the Real Madrid defender, who made his Spain debut in 2005.

"I hope that this momentum, enthusiasm and ambition always accompanies me and that I reach 200 games, which is the objective. You have to make it difficult."

Ramos is reportedly keen to play for Spain at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year in a bid to add to the World Cup and European Championship titles he has won with La Roja.

Asked about the matter this week, Moreno told reporters: "I haven't talked about the Olympic Games with him. That desire defines him as a footballer.

"He has one more motivation to add to his career. It is difficult, when you have won everything, to stay motivated."

Sergio Ramos has impressed Spain boss Robert Moreno with his desire to play for his country at next year's Olympic Games.

A source close to Ramos this week apparently leaked the news that the Real Madrid and Spain defender, who is set to become his country's most-capped player this weekend, wants to go for gold in Tokyo.

According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the team that travels to Japan was expected to be based around the players who won the European Under-21 Championship in June.

There is scope to include a number of more senior players, however, which could open the door for Ramos.

However, the 33-year-old is also expected to play for Spain at Euro 2020, meaning he would face a heavy workload given the tournaments take place almost back to back, with a brief gap in mid-July.

Moreno will be spared having to make a decision on Ramos over the Olympics, as responsibility for that team is set to fall on Spain Under-21 boss Luis de la Fuente.

"I haven't talked about the Olympic Games with him," Moreno said of Ramos.

"That desire defines him as a footballer. He has one more motivation to add to his career. It is difficult, when you have won everything, to stay motivated."

Moreno says Ramos, who will make a record 168th appearance for Spain when La Roja play Norway on Saturday, will need to demonstrate the team would benefit from his presence at the Olympics.

"It would be unfair for everyone to pick someone just because of their name," said Moreno.

"The fair thing is for everyone to maintain a high performance, but Sergio, who I see training every day, will maintain his level.

"When it comes to the time, Luis de la Fuente will have to decide who to take to the Games."

Spain, as hosts, won gold in the 1992 Olympic men's football tournament with a team including Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola.

They were silver medallists in Sydney eight years later when Xavi and Carles Puyol were in their ranks.

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