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Ramos-RMReal Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos has pulled out of Spain’s UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers later this week due to a shoulder injury, the national team said.

“Sergio Ramos is out of the squad due to shoulder pain and will be replaced by his (Real) team-mate Nacho (Ignacio Fernandez),” the Spanish said on their website.

Group C leaders Spain are set to host Luxembourg on Friday before travelling to Ukraine three days later. A win in the first or draw in the second would be enough to ensure their passage to the finals in France, although they are already guaranteed at least a play-off spot.

Rafa-Real-Madrid2Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez dismissed claims his side had paid for an overly defensive approach as Luciano Vietto’s late equaliser handed Atletico Madrid a 1-1 draw in the capital derby on Sunday.

Benitez’s men went in front early on through Karim Benzema, but attempted to sit on their lead and were caught out seven minutes from time when Vietto bundled home his first goal for Atletico from close range. The Argentine’s strike was just the second goal Real have conceded in nine games under Benitez, but they were again thankful to goalkeeper Keylor Navas as he saved Antoine Griezmann’s first-half penalty and made a brilliant stop from Jackson Martinez in stoppage time.

atletico-madrid-vs-real-madridA late Luciano Vietto goal earned Atletico Madrid a point in a Madrid derby that failed to live up to its billing.

But Real has to thank goalkeeper Keylor Navas for even that point and he saved Los Blancos from defeat by stopping a penalty shot and making some superb saves in the last minutes, when Atletico increased their pressure seeking the victory.

This was Rafa Benitez first Madrid derby as Real manager and it was clear that he played not lose instead of trying to win. The longer the game went on the more conservatives he became, introducing defensive players in the field during the second half. The problem was that once Atletico levelled late, Real didn’t have enough attackers on the field to try and retake the lead.

atletico-madrid-vs-real-madridReal Madrid will be without James Rodriguez for Sunday’s derby with Atletico Madrid, but Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale are available.

Marca had reported this week that James was recovering from his thigh injury ahead of schedule and would be back for the derby, but he was absent from the team’s final training session ahead of the trip to the Vicente Calderon.

“The idea was to have him ready as soon as possible [but] he’s not fit,” coach Rafa Benitez told his prematch news conference on Saturday.

Messi-PricelessBarcelona’s indifferent start to the season continued on Saturday as they lost 2-1 to Sevilla in a riveting game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Michael Krohn-Delhi gave the hosts the lead after 52 minutes and Vicente Iborra increased the advantage six minutes later, capitalising on awful defending from the Catalans.

Neymar pulled one back for Luis Enrique’s side but, despite dominating the latter stages and hitting the woodwork three times over the course of the game, the champions could not find an equaliser and fell to a second straight away defeat.

diego-costa-cfcDiego Costa and Andres Iniesta will play no part in the final two UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers but defender Sergio Ramos was in the Spain squad Vicente del Bosque for the games with Luxembourg and Ukraine.

European champions Spain top Group C with 21 points ahead of Slovakia on 19 and Ukraine on 16, with a home game with Luxemburg on 9 October and in Ukraine three days later.

“Costa is suspended for the first game so we decided not to take him to Ukraine either,”

cr7-ballonEven before a ball was kicked at Malmö New Stadium on Wednesday night, Cristiano Ronaldo dominated headlines in Sweden and in Spain.

From a Malmö perspective, the focus was on containing the Portuguese sharpshooter. From Real Madrid’s side, the question was – would their No7 reach a pair of scoring milestones? One goal against Malmö would take him to 500 career goals. Two goals meant equalling Raúl González as the club’s all-time top scorer.

CR7RonaldoReal Madrid chalked up a second successive victory in UEFA Champions League Group A after two milestone goals from Cristiano Ronaldo subdued Malmö in southern Sweden.

Malmö coach Åge Hareide had spoken of the importance of keeping Ronaldo facing towards his own goal in this matchday two contest – the theory being it would also keep the Madrid No7 off the scoresheet. In practice, the tactic failed blatantly as the Portuguese international netted on 29 and 90 minutes to clinch the points. The landmark first was his 500th career goal for club and country; the second brought him level with the great Raúl González in the Madrid scoring charts.

Messi-PricelessLionel Messi will be out for up to eight weeks after suffering knee ligament damage in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday, the Catalan giants confirmed.

“Tests have confirmed that Leo Messi suffered a torn internal collateral knee ligament. The estimated time out will be seven to eight weeks,” Barcelona said in a statement.

Messi will miss at least eight Barca games, and is a huge doubt for the first El Clasico of the season away to Real Madrid on 21 November. Barça face Sevilla, Rayo Vallecano, Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal in La Liga before visiting the Bernabeu. The European champions host Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and will also have to do without Messi for back-to-back games against BATE Borisov.

CR7RonaldoIt’s a rare midweek slate of games in La Liga this week with the headline match being Los Blancos daunting trip to take on Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Rafa Benitez’s side Madrid struggled to beat Granada 1-0 at the weekend and owed the victory to a string of saves from Keylor Navas as he stretched his unbeaten streak to five games. The Costa Rica international is now within 10 minutes of breaking Iker Casillas’s club record for the longest start to a campaign without conceding a goal.