Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos set aside Clasico rivalry in unthinkable PSG union

The former captains of Barcelona and Real Madrid have both had their careers defined and shaped by their fierce rivalry but are now pulling in the same direction

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There is no football fixture that is more iconic than Barcelona against Real Madrid, who’s fierce El Clasico rivalry captures a global audience.

The two clubs have enjoyed golden periods of success across the past decade with the captains of each side personifying the intensity of the fixture.

Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos have both enjoyed remarkable success both individually and as part of their teams since 2005, with each becoming symbols of Barca and Madrid respectively.

The two were engaged in plenty of heated moments throughout those years whereby personal and professional rivalry was played out time and time again.

Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos shared a fierce rivalry in El Clasico


AFP/Getty Images)

Ramos was often tasked with tracking Messi in the final third of the pitch, which was occasionally successful but also provided plenty of painful moments for the Spain international.

The 35-year-old racked up an impressive five red cards against the Catalan giants throughout his Madrid career, including two straight reds for fouls directly on Messi.

The first came in 2010 in the infamous Camp Nou match which saw Barca take apart Madrid in a 5-0 goal victory – with Messi dropping into a much deeper midfield role than usual, pulling apart the drilled defensive shape of Jose Mourinho’s side.

Ramos became increasingly frustrated throughout the humbling encounter, receiving a straight red card for scything down Messi and then becoming involved in altercations with Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez after the decision.

Seven years later, another iconic El Clasico saw Messi net a last-minute winner in a 3-2 win for Barca at the Santiago Bernabeu where he celebrated by holding his shirt up in front of the Madrid fans.

Los Blancos were caught short at the back as they pushed for a winner and their shape was thrown off due to the absence of Ramos, who had been dismissed earlier in the clash for a reckless two-footed lunge on the Argentine.

Flashpoints between the two were almost a regular occurrence whenever the teams played; the two provided another iconic image when they squared up after Messi alleged that Ramos threw an elbow into his face.

While the two have shown a great deal of animosity on the pitch, Ramos has frequently spoken about his admiration for the Argentine.

Naturally, the defender defended his former Los Blancos teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in a debate between the two, but he claimed that both were ‘extra-terrestrials’ and he would love to have played alongside his rival.

Can Messi and Ramos lead PSG to Champions League glory? Comment below

Ramos said in 2018: “To compare players with Cristiano, Messi… they’re in a different orbit, a different stratosphere.

“Messi is a step below. Not in the past, but this year Cristiano has been the best.

“Would I accept Messi in Madrid? 100%, I would be delighted to have Messi at Madrid. I would even make room for him in my house if necessary. We have had to suffer against him in his best years. Not having him in front of me to deal with would be good. I would like to see him at Madrid.

“I think both Messi and Cristiano are two extra-terrestrials. Perhaps Leo has done the treble and won two more titles this season that compliment [Barcelona’s] level. They are two megastars but maybe in the past year Leo had a little more.”

The central defender also heaped praise on Messi in an interview with Marca that year: “In Argentina they know that Maradona is light years away from the best Argentine player in history, which for me is Lionel Messi.”

Messi usually got the better of Ramos in the fixture – aside from the defender’s red cards – as Barca won eight domestic titles to Madrid’s three since 2008, with Real Madrid enjoying more of their success in European competition.

The Argentine scored a record 26 goals in the fixture but his last goal against Madrid came in 2018 – suggesting that a Ramos-marshalled defence had finally started to gain the upper-hand against Barca, who by this stage no longer had Neymar and whose power was on the wane.

Ramos told La Liga last year, when asked about Messi: “I have huge respect for him.

“I think he’s one of the greatest players in history and I have huge respect for him.”

Ramos also has explained his Amazon Prime documentary ‘El Corazon de Sergio Ramos’ (The Heart of Sergio Ramos), in pre-released quotes : “We’ve suffered against Messi during these years. Perhaps if Barcelona didn’t have him, we would have won more titles.

Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos have linked up as teammates after spending 16 years as rivals

“There was a time when we faced the best Barcelona in history. We had a great coach like (Jose) Mourinho, but it was hard for us to beat them. We didn’t win much and there was a lot of tension, caused by either them or by us.”

The mutual respect that is shared between the two is clear, even if this was set aside – often spectacularly – when they met on the pitch.

PSG’s stunning transfer window has seen them land both captains on either side of El Clasico, seeing them united in the final years of their career.

Ramos posted a picture of two PSG shirts with their names side by side on Instagram, with the caption: “Who was going to tell us, right @leomessi? Welcome!”

Fittingly, the Spanish defender’s shirt was in the white away kit of the Parisians – mirroring the colours of Madrid – with Messi in the blue home kit, more familiar with that of Barca.

Now, the two players are going to see out the autumn of their respective careers as teammates having been largely shaped and defined by their differences over the years.

They have both enjoyed trophy-laden careers after being on opposite sides of the Spanish divide but are now aiming to finish their careers on a high by joining forces and setting their sights on another Champions League title.

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