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The Real Madrid defender is anticipating a very important showdown against the Blaugrana in Santiago Bernabeu this weekend.

Real Madrid’s Clasico encounters with Barcelona aren’t exactly the same as”any other game”, according to Sergio Ramos, who insists”the entire experience is different” when Spanish soccer’s two biggest clubs face off.

Madrid will be planning to leapfrog their arch rivals from the La Liga standings by procuring a much-needed few points in Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane’s men suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat away at Levante last weekend, which enabled Barca to move two points clear at the summit by thrashing Eibar 5-0 in Camp Nou.

The Blancos followed that result with another humbling from the Champions League, as reigning Premier League champions Manchester City earned a 2-1 victory in the Spanish capital on Wednesday.

Madrid had not lost a match since October before this week, but their pursuit of European and domestic silverware is currently hanging in the balance, with another setback at the hands of Barca currently an unthinkable prospect.

Ramos admits a win over Quique Setien’s side would deliver”great pleasure” to the squad going into a critical period of the season, with the bets always higher against their fiercest foes.

“It is not just any other match,” the Madrid captain said of this time-honoured fixture.

“Despite there just being three points at stake, as there is in every match, El Clasico is a sport unlike any other. Beating Barcelona would bring us great pleasure.

“What is more, it generally has a very positive effect on the group concerning morale.

“Both teams know that and it is something which we must manage as best we can to turn it into an incentive that drives you on to success.

“Right from the beginning of the week, the entire experience differs. It brings plenty of media attention, but that is also what makes this game so good, La Liga, the players… The feeling that you get is one that comes from inside, it is quite tough to explain.”

Ramos added on how critical this weekend’s experience could be in terms of where the La Liga crown ends up come May: “It will be very evenly contested, due to the stage of the season we are at and since there’s barely any difference concerning the points we have.

“It might be critical or not, based on the outcome, but I believe that there is still a long way to go at the La Liga season. There’s a lot of things to play for and anything can happen.

“It will be really important for us to succeed at home, in front of our fans, which can be an additional motivation for us and will give us greater satisfaction if we win. We are stronger with us and that’s to reveal. Let us hope that we can make a statement and win at home.

“It is true that La Liga is quite competitive, but we are going to be battling for the title. We are really excited by the possibility of winning it, and we are therefore focused on doing to our best.

“La Liga gets more challenging by the year and it is ever more evenly matched. Today you can not go out saying that you are going to succeed at each ground, because that is not correct. Any of those groups may cause you problems.

“That is also what makes the Spanish top-flight unique and it makes it a whole lot more exciting. It is going to give us even fantastic satisfaction if we win the title.”

Zidane has transformed Madrid back to decoration contenders since returning to the club in March 2019, and Ramos expects another”age of great triumphs” will be appreciated under the Frenchman in the next few years.

“He’s a superb coach, not just on account of his album and all the trophies we have won beneath him,” he said.

“He spent many years as a player and has excellent control of life from the dressing room. Not everyone can handle a dressing room, or at least not in this natural manner as he does.

“Regardless of if they get less or more game time, he has all the players motivated and that is one of his big strengths. He knows exactly what he can escape all of us and I see him as being the ideal coach for a team like Real Madrid. Here is hoping that we can enjoy another age of great triumphs with him.”