Talent-packed squad as key to Real success as Ronald: Ramos
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[May 03, 2017]
By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo
hogged the headlines after his hat-trick against Atletico Madrid put
Real Madrid on the verge of the Champions League final, although
captain Sergio Ramos believes an effervescent squad was a crucial
factor behind their success.
Real shook off the absence of record signing Gareth Bale and an
injury to Dani Carvajal in the first half to crush Diego Simeone's
usually resilient side, scoring as many goals on Tuesday as Atleti
had conceded in their previous seven games.
Real's least experienced defender Nacho Fernandez was called on to
deputize for Carvajal in the unfamiliar right-back role while the
display of Isco was viewed by many in the Spanish media as an
upgrade on Bale, and 21-year-old Marco Asensio caused Atleti
numerous problems down the left when he came on.
"The squad is the key to our success, having substitutes that always
make their presence felt and play as well as those of us who play
more often," Ramos told reporters.
"This is the path we need to follow, where everyone is committed and
ready to do their part. It's difficult at Madrid to keep everyone
happy because everyone is so good but those demands and the level of
competition makes everyone eager to play and make the difference."
Barring a remarkable turnaround in next Wednesday's semi-final
second leg at the Vicente Calderon, Real will reach a third
Champions League final in four years, while they are on course to
win a first domestic league title since 2012.
"It was one of those games where everything went well, it was an
impeccable performance," said Ramos.
"We kept a clean sheet and as well as Cristiano's goals, which will
grab the front pages, you have to highlight the mentality of the
group, our efforts, our willingness to press Atletico high in their
Atletico also had injury problems going into the game and were
missing both of their right backs in Juanfran and Sime Vrsaljko as
well as Jose Gimenez.
[to top of second column]
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Sergio Ramos and
Marcelo after scoring their third goal to complete his hat trick
Reuters / Sergio Perez Livepic
Yet Simeone's side looked flustered, while there was
a remarkable freshness to Madrid, which Ramos said was down to
Zinedine Zidane's rotation policy.
The Frenchman, who is on track to become the first coach to
successfully defend the European Cup since AC Milan's Arrigo Sacchi
in 1990, has carefully managed his squad throughout the season.
No-one has been exempt from sitting out the occasional game, even
Ronaldo, who has started 26 of 34 league fixtures, and resting the
prolific Portuguese paid dividends as he added to his treble against
Bayern Munich in the quarter-final second leg with another
"Zidane has been very intelligent in managing the minutes everyone
plays," added Ramos.
"The players who normally play the most are arriving at the most
important moments of the season feeling fresher and more focused."
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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