Zinedine Zidane thinks Raheem Sterling is a quality player but is not interested in discussing a possible Real Madrid bid for the Manchester City star.

In an interview with Madrid publication AS, Sterling described Los Blancos as "a fantastic club" and suggested he could be interested in playing at the Santiago Bernabeu, although he made it clear he is happy at City.

With Pep Guardiola's side facing a ban from European competition pending the outcome of a planned appeal, the future of Sterling is likely to intensify over the coming weeks, particularly with Madrid and City meeting in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Madrid head coach Zidane is undoubtedly an admirer of Sterling, but he seems disinclined to encourage speculation.

"I can't talk about a player who isn't mine," he told reporters on Friday. "He's a very good player, no doubt about that."

Madrid face Levante in LaLiga on Saturday before their attentions turn to City next week.

One player hoping to impress is Rodrygo, who has not made a league appearance since January 26.

"He hasn't been in the last three squads, but we know he's an important player for us and when everyone is there, you have to select a squad," Zidane said of the Brazilian.

"That's all it is, because we're happy with him. He's shown he's very good."

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is said to be at an impasse in talks over a new contract, with Madrid reportedly unwilling to match their captain's request for a two-year extension.

Zidane, though, expects a new deal to be agreed without too much complication and is even backing the defender in his desire to represent Spain at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

"Sergio's renewal looks easy to me. I want Sergio with me. He's our captain, our leader and an example as a player," he said.

"He's very important for all Madridistas, for the players...

"He should go, of course [to the Olympics]. I will support him. It's very beautiful to play for your country."

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus is reportedly wanted by Serie A giants Juventus.

Jesus, 22, has struggled for regular game time since arriving at City from Palmeiras in early 2017.

And Juve may be prepared to take the Brazil international to Turin.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS WANT MAN CITY'S JESUS

Juventus want Jesus in a €69.9million (£58.5m) move, according to The Sun.

The report adds the Serie A champions also want Mauro Icardi, who is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter.

Jesus has scored 36 goals in 90 Premier League games for City, but just 48 of those have been starts.

ROUND-UP

- With his contract at Real Madrid ending in 2021, Sergio Ramos seemingly wants a new deal. AS reports the Madrid captain, 33, wants a further two years on his deal, but the LaLiga giants are not keen to offer it.

- Paulo Dybala looks likely to re-sign at Juventus. CalcioMercato reports the playmaker is getting closer to a renewal with the club with his current contract expiring in 2022.

- Amid Liverpool's reported interest in RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, Roberto Firmino has been linked with a stunning move to Bayern Munich. However, Goal reports the Premier League leaders' front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Firmino are "going nowhere" at the end of the season.

- Newcastle United remain keen to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare. Le 10 Sport says the Premier League club are continuing to press for the 20-year-old to make the move after being unable to get a deal done in January.

- Arsenal are eager to re-sign Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old, who has impressed at left-back, is in talks over a lucrative long-term deal, according to The Times.

Real Madrid's most memorable attacking moment during the first half of their title-race twisting 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo was Sergio Ramos launching into one of his driving runs in search of a goal, only to volley the ball into his own face when it arrived.

This botched attack had a claim beyond slapstick, given Zinedine Zidane's LaLiga leaders failed to muster a single shot on target before the break.

Indeed, there was nothing remotely as incisive from an forward line featuring Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale as the move Celta produced for their seventh-minute opener – Iago Aspas shifting smoothly into a pocket of space in front of a ramshackle Madrid defence and threading a perfect pass for Fedor Smolov to coolly slot home.

Hazard was making his first appearance since suffering a fractured ankle in November and, shortly after Ramos' party piece, showed signs of starting to shift through the gears.

In the 40th minute, Karim Benzema pulled out to the left channel and Hazard scampered around the outside, pulling the ball back from the byline for the on-rushing Bale to fire narrowly over.

It was link-up play to cheer Zidane as he tries to get his returning attackers up to speed ahead of the Champions League showdown against Manchester City later this month.

On this evidence, however, Hazard and Bale are playing for one spot. The ever-dependable Benzema is a guaranteed starter, fitness permitting, and Los Blancos missed the benched Vinicius Jr's dynamism for much of Sunday's contest.

Having set themselves a low bar in the first-half, Madrid improved considerably during the second period and hit the front thanks to a couple of sure things.

Toni Kroos' midfield scheming is not annotated with goals too frequently, but he dispatched Marcelo's pass to score for the sixth time against Celta. He has 14 LaLiga goals overall since joining Madrid from Bayern Munich in 2014.

Ramos is, by comparison, somewhat more prolific from centre-back. A smart finish from an offside position showed his radar to be back in order following the earlier mishap and there was little doubt about the outcome when he stepped up for a 65th-minute penalty.

Ruben Blanco erred badly when Benzema and Hazard repeated their first-half link, with the Celta goalkeeper darting from his ground to needlessly bring the Belgium star down.

Blanco guessed correctly but Ramos' sprung from his staggered run-up to dispatch an unerring strike.

Hazard made way for Vinicius in the 73rd minute and enjoyed a warm ovation from the Bernabeu faithful – the sort of reception that sadly only seems to exist in the past tense for Bale nowadays.

As for the other grizzled survivors of Zidane's three consecutive Champions League final triumphs from 2016 through to 2018, they remain his dependables.

They will be asked to go to the well once more the next time Madrid emerge at their famous home ground, faced with a formidable but flawed City in a competition they know like the back of their hand.

It would be a brave person who backs against them but the sight of Celta producing a sting in the tail suggested the years could be taking a toll.

Substitutes Denis Suarez and Santi Mina combined as Aspas and Smolov had before for the latter to score – the lines of communication between Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane in the backline again appearing unhelpfully clogged.

The lead at the top of LaLiga from Barcelona was only a point at full-time, a situation roughly as comfortable as booting a football into your own face.

Of course, Ramos tumbled theatrically in stoppage time to try and win another penalty and Madrid will strain and scrap for everything until the end of the season. With 46 goals from 24 LaLiga games, don't expect them to blow too many teams away either. The Galactico grind is on.

Fernando Hierro labelled Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos "extraordinary" and hailed the defender's goalscoring record.

Ramos moved past Hierro for the fifth most LaLiga matches for Madrid during Sunday's win over Osasuna, reaching 440.

The defender scored his sixth goal of the season in the 4-1 victory that ensured Madrid maintained a three-point lead atop the table.

Hierro, a Madrid great, said what Ramos had achieved with the Spanish giants was incredible.

"Sergio Ramos is absolutely remarkable," he told LaLiga.

"Years ago we defenders had more chances to score, we'd often play in midfield. But in today's day and age, in the 21st century, Sergio is extraordinary.

"[Gerard] Pique scores quite a few goals too, but Sergio really is an anomaly.

"His goalscoring record for Real Madrid and the national team is remarkable."

Ramos has also scored the equal 10th most goals for Spain with 21 in his 170 appearances.

Zinedine Zidane again reiterated there is no problem between himself and Gareth Bale after recalling the winger for Real Madrid's 4-1 win at Osasuna.

Madrid extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to six points ahead of Barcelona's trip to Real Betis as they prevailed in a feisty encounter at El Sadar.

Unai Garcia headed the hosts into a 14th-minute lead but Isco volleyed in his first league goal of the campaign and Sergio Ramos edged Madrid in front before the break.

Substitutes Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic added gloss to the scoreline late on, the former having replaced the recalled Bale 20 minutes from time.

The Wales star passed up a pair of half-chances before having a hand in Isco's equaliser and Zidane was impressed by his efforts without the ball, during what was at times a gruelling contest.

"He is an important player, he has shown it," Zidane told reporters afterwards.

"He has not played the last three games and has made 70 very good minutes defensively.

"Then, the problem is that they want us to have a problem with Gareth, but there is not one.

"There are many players, it’s not easy to manage all that. He’s a very important player, he’s always shown it and he’ll keep playing, like the others."

Asked again about Bale's performance, Zidane added: "He has done well. I am happy for his game, offensively and defensively he has given everything.

"He was a bit short physically at the end, so he has left the field. We know the player he is and that he is going to give a lot from now until the end of the season. Let's count on Gareth."

Jovic is another player who has not always found favour with his boss and the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker's fabulous left-footed finish marked only a second LaLiga goal, and his first since October.

"I'm glad for him, I needed him, he is a pure striker of whom you can say many things," Zidane said.

"He plays well, but if he does not score a goal he is not happy. He has to improve, but I'm glad for his goal. It will come in handy."

Eden Hazard was absent once more, with the Belgium playmaker running out of time to prove his fitness before the Champions League clash with Manchester City at the end of this month.

"It's a thing we do together," Zidane explained when discussing the management of Hazard's recovery from a fractured ankle.

"It wasn't the time today again and we'll see this week. He's going to need this week, it's going to be long. We're going to see him next week, I hope."

Isco's first LaLiga goal of the season helped Real Madrid to a battling 4-1 win at Osasuna on Sunday.

The hosts deservedly hit the front at a bristling El Sadar thanks to Unai Garcia's header, but Isco finished with aplomb in the 33rd minute.

Sergio Ramos' knack for vital goals came up trumps for Zinedine Zidane once more before the interval, and Madrid now lead Barcelona by six points at the summit.

Substitutes Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic made sure of that state of affairs before Quique Setien takes Barca to face his old employers Real Betis in the day's late kick-off.

Right-back Nacho Vidal fizzed a 20-yard shot narrowly wide inside the first minute to serve notice of Osasuna's intentions before Jose Arnaiz and Ruben Garcia raided down the right-hand side of Madrid's defence to go close.

It meant the 14th-minute opener was on the cards when it arrived – Unai Garcia stooping to head home Ruben Garcia's corner.

Madrid's most immediate route back into the match appeared to be Osasuna keeper Sergio Herrera, who twice darted from his goal and was indebted to last-ditch clearances from shots by Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal.

Herrera was more conventionally placed but had no chance when Isco dispatched a looping ball on the volley after Gareth Bale's attempt was blocked.

Casemiro atoned for his poor marking on Osasuna's goal by heading Luka Modric's corner back across goal for Ramos to make it 2-1.

Unai Garcia got in the way of Benzema's goalbound 49th-minute effort from a Modric cutback, and Osasuna kept scrapping away – Casemiro turning Ruben Garcia's shot behind after Nacho Vidal ransacked Isco.

The playmaker was certainly more at home in the opposition half and a sharp low stop from Herrera kept out an Isco snapshot before Vazquez replaced Bale.

The Spain winger benefitted from Benzema's unselfish 84th-minute pass, while Modric and Federico Valverde combined for Jovic to rifle in his second LaLiga goal – and first since October – in stoppage time.

Inigo Perez rattling Thibaut Courtois crossbar showed Osasuna's spirit remained intact until the last.
 

What does it mean? Pressure on Barca

Madrid might not have been at their best here, but it does not matter. Barcelona's uncertain start to life under Setien will now continue with them eyeing a mounting deficit when they kick-off at Estadio Benito Villamarin. Anything more than three points for the Blaugrana and this weekend will come to appear pivotal in the title battle.

Ramos proves the master of irritation once more

He is certainly not to everyone's taste, but if you're a fan, this was time to enjoy some pure, unadulterated, hook-it-to-my-veins Sergio Ramos. Madrid were lucky to be level when Ramos decided to begin a prolonged argument with any Osasuna player willing to listen. The trap of distraction was set for the corner to come and the unmarked skipper proceeded to mock his opponents by sucking his thumb and blowing kisses in celebration. In a title race that could be scrapped for until the last, Madrid have the ideal man leading the charge.

Lack of sharpness does Bale no favours

Claiming an assist for Isco's equaliser would be ambitious, but Bale needs all he can get at Madrid right now. Granted only a 10th LaLiga start this term, the Wales star volleyed into the side-netting and headed over from Carvajal deliveries before half-time. They were, at best, half-chances but Bale's dwindling standing with Zidane means he now needs something special every time an opportunity comes his way.

What's next?

Madrid host Celta Vigo in seven days' time, when Osasuna travel to Athletic Bilbao.

Real Madrid and Barcelona exited the Copa del Rey on the same date for the first time since 1955 following shock defeats.

LaLiga giants Madrid and Barca both crashed out in the quarter-finals on Thursday, stunned by Basque pair Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao respectively.

Madrid were upstaged 4-3 by visiting Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Lionel Messi's Barca – runners-up for six successive seasons – conceded a 93rd-minute goal in a 1-0 loss away to Athletic.

It is the first time in 65 years Madrid and Barca have been eliminated on the same day – the pair ousted by Sevilla and Athletic in the 1955 semi-finals.

LaLiga leaders Madrid and Barca will now turn their attention to league and Champions League honours.

Madrid – three points clear atop LaLiga – face Manchester City in the Champions League last 16, while Barca meet Napoli.

Sergio Ramos is in line to make his return from injury after being included in the Real Madrid squad to face Real Valladolid on Sunday.

Madrid captain Ramos has been out of action since injuring his ankle in the penalty shoot-out victory over Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final two weeks ago.

The 33-year-old was back in training on Thursday and completed a full session on Friday to earn a spot in Zinedine Zidane's 19-man group for Sunday's LaLiga outing.

Gareth Bale was not included due to an ankle problem, while Brahim Diaz – who impressed in the 3-1 win over Unionistas de Salamanca in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday – Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz were left out.

Following Barcelona's 2-0 loss at Valencia on Saturday, Madrid will go top of LaLiga if they get a point at Estadio Jose Zorilla.

Eden Hazard has returned to training after a lengthy injury lay-off, while Real Madrid have also been able to welcome Sergio Ramos back into the fold.

Hazard signed from Chelsea in June but missed a chunk earlier in the season due to a hamstring injury and has been out of action since November with an ankle issue.

The forward has been restricted to just 13 appearances across all competitions for Los Blancos, scoring one goal.

However, Hazard is now edging closer to making his comeback after returning to Madrid training on Thursday, running on the grass as well as performing exercises with the ball, according to the club's official website.

It seems unlikely that Hazard will be fit to feature against Real Valladolid on Sunday, though Madrid will be hopeful of having the Belgium international back by the time Atletico Madrid visit Santiago Bernabeu on February 1.

Madrid were also boosted by the return of captain Ramos, who has not played since injuring his ankle in the Supercopa de Espana final, in which he scored the winning penalty against Atleti, though the defender did not work with the ball during Thursday's session.

Zinedine Zidane hailed Sergio Ramos as an example to everyone at Real Madrid after the captain made an unexpected bid to feature against Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday.

Ramos dispatched the winning penalty as Madrid claimed the Supercopa de Espana at the expense of rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend.

But the 33-year-old defender suffered a sprained ankle during the game and was expected to spend a spell on the sidelines until he emerged for training at Valdebebas on Friday.

"We know the character that Sergio has," Zidane told a pre-match news conference. "He always wants to play. He's done everything possible this week to be available and to be ready.

"He is a great example to the rest of the team. He's our reference for everyone at this club and an example everyone should follow."

Ramos' centre-back partner Raphael Varane is in line to make a landmark 300th appearance in Madrid colours this weekend.

Zidane first took charge of his countryman, who joined the 13-time European champion from Lens in 2011, when he featured in the club's youth categories.

"I knew the potential he had when he came, I knew he could play a lot of games for us," he said,

"But, in eight years, 300 games is not something that everyone can get to.

"I hope he can play another 300 – at least another 100!"

Behind Ramos and Varane, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is enjoying a strong run of form, with his performance in the Supercopa final standing in stark contrast to some of the struggles he experienced after joining from Chelsea before the start of last season.

"I think he's proven since the day he came that he's a great goalkeeper. He's always been a part of the group of the best goalkeepers in the world," Zidane added.

"He's had some difficult moments, of course. He's known how to overcome these difficult moments and he knows the level that he's got.

"With a lot of hard work he's been able to bring himself up to this level and we're very happy for him."

Real Madrid won their 11th Supercopa de Espana title as Sergio Ramos tucked home the winning spot-kick to see off city rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 in a penalty shootout after a dismal goalless draw.

With Atleti having failed to convert their opening two penalties, Madrid captain Ramos proved their nemesis again when he sent Jan Oblak the wrong way.

Federico Valverde and Alvaro Morata - against his former club - spurned the best opportunities of a dour 90 minutes at King Abdullah Sports City stadium on Sunday, though the quality did improve in extra-time.

However, a string of excellent saves from both goalkeepers, either side of Valverde's late red card, forced penalties, with Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey missing from the spot.

Ramos thkept his composure to take the title back to Santiago Bernabeu after Dani Carvajal, Rodrygo and Luka Modric also hit the target from 12 yards.

 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

Clement Lenglet called for two contentious refereeing decisions to be respected after Real Madrid were left disgruntled with VAR during Wednesday's goalless Clasico.

The Barcelona defender was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he caught Raphael Varane's thigh with a raised boot in the first half at Camp Nou.

Referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez allowed play to continue and decided against punishing another apparent infringement on Varane a few moments later, the Madrid centre-back tumbling to the floor following a tug on his shirt from Ivan Rakitic.

Neither incident was reviewed on the pitchside monitor as video official opted not to intervene.

Madrid called attention to the "two controversial moments" in a statement on their website after captain Sergio Ramos criticised the failure of technology to fix what he viewed as "pretty clear" fouls.

Lenglet disagreed and said the decisions should be respected.

"For me, it's not a penalty," he told Movistar when asked about his challenge on fellow France defender Varane.

"I wanted to get the ball out with my head and give strength to my movement. I used my body and legs for that and unfortunately I touched Raphael's leg.

"I'm the protagonist and I know I'm going to clear the ball. I'm not a player who likes to kick people. But if some believe it's a penalty, it's up to the VAR.

"The VAR made a decision and must be respected."

Madrid winger Gareth Bale later had a goal disallowed for an offside against Ferland Mendy as neither side mustered a winner.

Jordi Alba squandered a good chance for Barca before Lionel Messi, who had one attempt cleared off the line, made a mess of a late opportunity to snatch all three points.

"We had clear scoring chances," Lenglet said. "Two for Messi, Luis Suarez. We're left with a bittersweet feeling.

"Madrid are a team with quality and when they come here, they come more to defend."

Sergio Ramos questioned why VAR was not used to check two "clear" fouls on Raphael Varane in the penalty area during Wednesday's goalless Clasico.

In the first half at Camp Nou, Varane was caught by a high challenge from compatriot Clement Lenglet and then had his shirt pulled by Ivan Rakitic when competing for a corner.

Referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez did not award a penalty and neither incident was checked using the VAR pitchside monitor midweek.

Madrid captain Ramos was left bemused as to why VAR did not intervene, having watched back the footage at half-time.

"We saw them at the break and they look pretty clear. They're both penalties, but we can't change that now," he said to Movistar.

"VAR is here to help. It's bad luck. On another day, it'll be our turn to have a penalty that they don't check."

Gareth Bale saw a second-half goal correctly disallowed for offside after a VAR check, as Madrid failed to make their early dominance count and Barca's front three struggled to get into the game.

The result means defending champions Barca remain top of LaLiga but level on points with Madrid, who are now unbeaten in 12 matches in all competitions.

Ramos, who became the top appearance-maker in the fixture's history as he played Madrid's fierce rivals for the 43rd time, is frustrated the mid-season break starts after Sunday's game against Athletic Bilbao as he wants to sustain momentum.

"You can't be happy when you don't win, but getting something here is always positive," he said.

"We saw a great Real Madrid today, with a lot of personality, on a very tough pitch. We went to steal the ball, which helped us create many chances. There were few mistakes and that's the end result.

"We controlled the game quite well. We had more chances than them. It's not easy to get the ball off them. The strategy of pressing high worked well.

"We're going through a great dynamic in terms of play and we're also good physically. It's a shame the year is ending - we'd like this not to stop.

"Now, we have Athletic and hopefully we'll continue like this after the holidays."

Real Madrid salvaged a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Sunday thanks to a late Karim Benzema equaliser that Zinedine Zidane believes is proof of the team's fighting spirit.

Valencia looked to be heading for a 1-0 win when Carlos Soler put the hosts in front with 12 minutes to go, then surviving a scare as Luka Jovic had a goal disallowed for offside.

But Madrid continued to plug away and eventually restored parity deep into stoppage time – Benzema slamming home after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was remarkably denied when his header was saved by Jaume Domenech.

As such, Madrid go into Wednesday's Clasico against Barcelona with something of a morale boost, with Zidane suggesting the late goal highlights his team's mentality.

"This shows you what we are, we fight until the end. We fight and what we want is to get a good result," he told Movistar.

"We don't lower our arms. We got it [the equaliser] with the courtesy of Courtois and Karim. I'm glad for them because it has been a tremendous effort from everyone.

"You have to be proud of the game. When in such a difficult stadium, you concede a goal a few minutes from full-time, you can fall apart, but we still thought that something could be achieved, and we achieved it."

Club captain Sergio Ramos was less philosophical about dropping points, however, acknowledging he leaves Mestalla disappointed.

"Despite scoring at the end, it tastes a bit bitter despite adding a point. When you don't leave with the three points, you leave with that pity," he said.

"I think we've controlled the match well, with balance. We had in front of us a rival who came into the match in good form.

"We can't press for the full 90 minutes, but we've gone all the way. We've made a point that allows us to stay joint-top."

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