Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona have been embroiled in a bitter rivalry for almost as long as both clubs have been in existence. However, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos believes that his team would have enjoyed a great deal more success if the Catalans did not have the services of Lionel Messi.
Both Ramos and Messi have been enjoying lengthy careers at their respective clubs and Ramos thinks that the Barcelona captain has been a major hindrance to his side winning more titles. Since joining Real Madrid from Sevilla in 2005, Ramos has won four Champions League trophies. The success in Europe has been incomparable, but things are very different domestically.
Ramos has lifted five La Liga Santander trophies with Real Madrid during his time at the Bernabeu. While that seems impressive, Barcelona has won ten league titles in the same period.
"We've suffered against Messi during these years. Perhaps if Barcelona didn't have him, we would have won more titles," said Ramos, in a clip from his documentary series "The Legend of Sergio Ramos."
The Spaniard also feels that he was unfortunate enough to have been met by the best Barcelona lineup that ever existed. "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," he added.
Spanish football has been dominated by the two rivals in recent years, with Atletico Madrid the only team that has posed a considerable challenge in the past decade at least. This season, Atletico leads the La Liga title race but by only one point over Barcelona. Real Madrid meanwhile, is in third place just a further two points back.
The El Clasico on Saturday will be crucial as the race for the title approaches the final few weeks. Real Madrid will host the match against FC Barcelona at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium at 20:00 CET.