Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos insists the European champions will not be cowered by an intimidating atmosphere as they visit Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon for the final time on Wednesday.
Los Blancos are looking to seal their place in the Champions League final once more and enjoy a commanding 3-0 first leg lead.
And Ramos hit back at the simplification of the rivalry between the two Madrid giants as Real’s riches against Atletico’s hard work.
“It seems like here we have grown up in Beverly Hills,” said Ramos on Tuesday.
“Here there are people from humble backgrounds too.
“The sacrifice is what fills you with desire to win.”
An already intense rivalry has reached new levels in recent seasons as under Diego Simeone Atletico’s status and ability to challenge Real has grown.
However, the red and white side of Madrid has consistently fallen short against Real in the Champions League.
Unless they pull off a remarkable comeback, Atletico will bow out of European competition against their fiercest rivals for the fourth consecutive season.
“We know playing at home is always a plus for us,” said Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez.
“We have to give everything and make sure the fans go home proud of their players whether we go through or not.”
However, the size of Atletico’s task is illustrated by the fact that Real have scored in all of their last 60 games stretching back over a year.
“We can’t go crazy,” added Saul. “We know it is very difficult, but we need to go step-by-step, we need to keep a clean sheet.
“If they score the tie is even more difficult, but a goal in the first-half would give us a lot of strength and could make them nervous.”
– No vertigo –
Even by their standards Real are on the verge of completing the most glorious season in the club’s decorated history.
Zinedine Zidane’s men are three games away from a first league title in five years and, should they complete a La Liga and Champions League double, it will be Real’s first since 1957/58.
Moreover, they could become the first side in the Champions League era to retain the trophy.
And Ramos insisted he is relishing a challenging end to the campaign rather than wilting under the pressure.
“There is no feeling of vertigo. The contrary, it is in our own hands,” added the Spanish international.
“The good part of the season is coming, there are two weeks left and we’ll see what happens in the end.
“I would settle to be in this position every year.”
Despite his stellar record since taking charge of Real 17 months ago, Zidane has been evasive over his future in recent weeks.
However, the Frenchman believes even if Real ended up missing out on both La Liga and the Champions League, it would be unfair to categorise their season as a failure.
“After eight or nine months the players have worked with incredible professionalism, but we have to keep showing that every three days.
“Until now we have done well, but we have to show it again tomorrow and on Sunday.
“An injustice or a failure is not giving your all, and we are giving everything we have.”
Zidane is expected to resort back to the side that started the first leg after making nine changes for Saturday’s 4-0 win at Granada bar the introduction of Nacho for the injured Dani Carvajal at right-back.
Gareth Bale remains sidelined with a calf injury.
Atletico’s injury crisis at right-back is expected to be resolved by the return of Juanfran after three weeks out.
Otherwise, Simeone is also expected to name the same side that started the first leg.
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