By Peter Staunton in Marrakech
Sergio Ramos has labelled Real Madrid “God’s team” after being questioned over the Pope’s allegiance to Club World Cup final opponents San Lorenzo.
The head of the Catholic Church has supported the Argentine side – who lifted the Copa Libertadores to qualify for the tournament – since his youth, but the Madrid defender believes his side have divine powers.
“The way I believe I am a Christian, but in football it does not usually help much,” he said ahead of Saturday’s game.
“In the semi-finals we noticed the love from supporters in Marrakech and it seemed like we were playing at home. That sums up the greatness of this team. Madrid is God’s team and the team of the world. In Argentina all Argentines love football with a passion. We will try to give joy to all Madridistas, but the Pope is supporting San Lorenzo!”
Ramos intends to play despite being struck down by a thigh injury in the semi-final against Cruz Azul.
The Spain international returned to Madrid training on Friday after missing Thursday’s session in order to undergo a recovery session at the team’s hotel.
He was replaced during the second half against the Mexicans after opening the scoring but is determined to take part in a tournament that he has never won before.
“The feelings of the past two days have been good and positive,” he said. “There is a training session today, we have to assess how I’m feeling. Today, I’m not that concerned. I’ll progress step by step, match by match.
“This is a special moment because we are playing a final and I’ve never played this final before. That’s my motivation. But if there’s a great risk you have to take it seriously but we’re going to train and we’ll see how I’m feeling.”
Meanwhile, Real coach Carlo Ancelotti has given his other injury concern James Rodriguez a clean bill of health ahead of the final at the Stade de Marrakech, but was cautious over the selection of Ramos.
“James has no risk,” he said. “He’s been training since Wednesday, he feels well. He has no major injury. He’s fully recovered.
“Sergio had a problem but this muscle injury is not that severe. We have to assess his training, we have to talk to him and see how he is feeling. The decisions of the medical staff are important.”
Neither Ancelotti nor Ramos would be drawn on the current controversy over the appointment of the officials for the final.
The San Lorenzo president, Matias Lammens, suggested on Wednesday that Madrid would favour Portuguese official Pedro Proenca and the Argentine camp also described Pepe as a “violent” player. The Guatemalan Walter Lopez will take charge of the fixture.
“We don’t mind who the referee is,” the centre-back added. “We hope that the referee officiates properly. I don’t want to create any conflict or discussion. Any team would want Pepe, he’s one of the best defenders in the world.”
Ancelotti added:”We are focusing on playing well. Everything else around the game doesn’t interest us. I don’t even know the name of the referee.”
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