Sergio Ramos & Lionel Messi known as key characters on the opposite side of the Clasico divide, the pair warred with one another many times, but they are now united by a common goal.
From brutal tackles, verbal barrages and thrilling one-on-one battles, Ramos and Messi’s rivalry made sparks fly in countless Clasicos, but now the duo must quickly consign their differences to history and pull in the same direction.
Thursday marked Lionel Messi’s first day of PSG training and the sight of the ex-Madrid and Barca captains in a warm embrace will take some getting used to.
The first time they notably clashed was in 2010, when frustration got the better of Ramos, as Messi’s incredible performance in Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Real Madrid drove him to boiling point.
With the Argentine still ghosting past Madrid defenders in stoppage time, Ramos reached the end of his tether and scythed down Messi from behind, sending the forward crashing to the Camp Nou turf.
“Terrible kick by Ramos; a terrible blow,” muttered the commentators, disapprovingly, as the Madrid man was dismissed.
Ramos shoved Carles Puyol in the face, and followed it up with another palm in the direction of Xavi Hernandez for good measure, as he stormed off the pitch under the dead-eyed stare of then-coach Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho had accused Messi of theatrics ahead of the clash, and the Argentine put on a show for him, despite not scoring for the first time in 10 Clasicos.
Barcelona’s playmaker dropped deep into midfield from his false nine role, controlling the game, not allowing Ramos to get near him without being dragged out of position.
Overall, the Messi era was not a kind period for Real Madrid, in domestic terms, with Los Blancos winning three leagues since 2009, in contrast to Barcelona’s eight.
That meant Ramos vs Messi confrontations more often ended up in favour of the latter, with the Barcelona striker’s 18 goals a record in the Clasico.
However, without Ramos on the pitch doing his best to shackle the Argentine – and, in recent seasons, he edged this battle, with Messi not netting against Real Madrid since 2018 – the diminutive No.10 was able to do a lot more damage.
Ramos, remember, was sent off for a wild, two-footed, studs-up lunge at Messi in 2017 at the Santiago Bernabeu and that game ended 3-2 in Barcelona’s favour, with Messi iconically raising his shirt to the stands after netting a last-minute winner.
However, Ramos had the last laugh that season, with Madrid lifting the title, and it was when the World Cup winner could keep Messi at bay, that Madrid enjoyed Clasico success.
However, Ramos saw his contract renewal offer withdrawn by Real Madrid and wound up in the French capital, with Messi joining him there this week, allowing the Spaniard to finally get his wish.
“Who’d have thought it, right, Leo?” said Ramos on Instagram, posting a photo of his PSG shirt next to Messi’s.