Oblak hailed as world’s best

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak has been hailed as the best in the world by his head coach at Atletico Madrid, Diego Simeone.

The 26-year-old Slovenia international has been an outstanding performer for Los Rojiblancos since his arrival from Benfica in the summer of 2014, helping Atleti reach the Champions League final in 2016.

Oblak has also excelled in aiding the men from Madrid to enjoy success in the Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish Super Cup.

And Oblak was at his best at the weekend as he made several fine saves in the 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo, with Simeone clearly thankful of having such a fine keeper at his disposal.

He told the Spanish media: "Jan Oblak is the best goalkeeper in the world and we are very lucky to have him in the squad.

"I am very proud to have him in my team and for him to be in the dressing room at this club – he has improved a lot since he arrived at the club.

"When he first came, until February he had not played any games, but he's worked so hard to get a regular spot in the team.

"Right now, there is no doubt that for me he is the best goalkeeper in the world."

Atleti are back in action next Saturday afternoon, when they head to the Ipurua Municipal to take on mid-table Eibar.

The visitors are 6/4 to win the game, 6/1 to do so by a 1-0 scoreline and 7/4 to keep a clean sheet.

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Ramos not giving up on Spanish title

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos believes it is still possible for his to team catch Barcelona in the La Liga title race after their win at Atletico Madrid.

Los Blancos are up to second in the standings after an impressive 3-1 victory over their city rivals at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Gareth Bale got his 100th goal in Real colours to round off the win, their first over Atleti in the last six meetings, with Casemiro and Ramos having previously netted.

Having started the year with a shock home loss to Real Sociedad, Santiago Solari's men have won the last five league matches to keep themselves within touching distance of their Clasico rivals.

Barcelona are currently five points clear with a game in hand and are 1/9 to retain their league crown, while Real are now 7/1 having leapfrogged Atletico in the standings.

Having previously been ruled out of the title race heading into the winter break, Ramos says Real are now firmly back in the mix and believes they can push Barca hard, despite the impending return of Champions League football this month.

"We fulfilled our objective to recover our position in the table and reduce the distance to the leaders and now we will wait to see how they do," Ramos told BeIN Sports.

"It was very a complete performance from us and I think that the result is fair. I thought our performance was very intelligent and now the league is still to be fought for.

"There are many points up for grabs and any team can cause problems, as was seen in the first half of the season. We have hope and are going to fight for three competitions. The league motivates us and we want to continue fighting for it and make life difficult for Barcelona."

Barcelona could move eight points clear at the top of the table when they play Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening.

Barca are 5/6 for the win, with Bilbao 10/3 and the draw 13/5.

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Solari stands by misfiring Benzema

Real Madrid interim head coach Santiago Solari has played down the current struggles in front of goal of long-serving striker Karim Benzema.

The 30-year-old France international has not found the net in any of his last eight La Liga appearances, with his latest blank coming in the 2-0 victory at home to Valladolid.

However, Solari is not overly concerned by that drought, with Benzema having scored 199 goals in 428 appearances in all competitions since joining Real from Lyon just over nine years ago.

He told reporters: "I'm not the one who is going to 'discover' him. He was liked by the previous managers and he's an incredible player.

"He's got incredible tactics, he makes his team-mates better and he works very hard also in defence, which I think are fantastic characteristics which say a lot about him."

Meanwhile, Barcelona striker Luis Suarez admitted that his side had almost been punished for some overconfidence, before he netted a last-minute winner in their 3-2 victory at Rayo Vallecano.

The Uruguayan told the Spanish media: "It's true, we probably were too confident, but we must credit Rayo Vallecano, they need points and were excellent – they took the game to us and were very impressive.

"At the end of the day the most important thing from our perspective was to pick up the three points, then evaluate our performance."

Barca are currently four points clear of the chasing pack in La Liga, with Real down in sixth place and already seven points adrift of their deadly rivals.

The Catalans are 1/3 to retain their Primera Liga crown, with Real available at 5/1 and Atletico Madrid 7/1.

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Ramos brands Lopetegui sack talk crazy

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos says it would be madness for the club to sack head coach Julen Lopetegui because of their early-season struggles.

Lopetegui was only handed the reins at the Bernabeu during the summer but has fond it tough to fill the big shoes left by Zinedine Zidane, while the fallout of Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Juventus continues.

Los Blancos have failed to win any of their last four matches, losing three of them with Alaves causing a major surprise when they came out on top on Saturday.

Having failed to make the breakthrough for the fourth game running, Real were punished in the 95th minute when substitute Manu Garcia headed home the win for the Babazorros.

The last time the reigning European champions went four matches without a win was in 1985 and the club's response at the time was to fire coach Amancio Ortega.

Former Spain coach Lopetegui has insisted he's not thinking about the possibility of getting the boot, insisting it is far too early in his reign for such drastic action.

Ramos has echoed his manager's sentiments by insisting there is no need to replace Lopetegui at this stage.

"There are other people to make those decisions, its not part of the player's role," he said. "For a squad, it is never good to change coach. It is not in our hands. It would be crazy, the team is fighting for the top spots. We must keep our feet on the ground, be more calm, and try and turns things around.

"Everyone will have their own opinion. There are times when a change has been better, and others not, you never know. It is very soon to talk about changing coach. It is not up to the players, others have to take that decision."

Real are now 11/4 to win Primera Liga this season as they remain level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table.

However, Barca could still a march on their rivals heading into the international break by getting the better Valencia on Sunday night.

Barcelona, who have had their own issues recently, are 13/20 to come out on top at the Mestalla, while Los Che are 15/4 and the draw is 16/5.

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Varane refuses to throw towel in

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane says the defending champions can not give up on the Primera Liga title despite Tuesday's loss at Espanyol.

Los Blancos missed the chance to trim Barcelona's sizeable lead at the top of the table as they went down to a shock 1-0 defeat to Espanyol, who came in to the game having failed to win any of their seven previous matches.

Gerard Moreno's stoppage-time winner for the home side condemned Real to a fifth league defeat of the season and they are now 150/1 to retain their league title as they sit 14 points behind Barca, who have played a game less.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane said after the game that he did not feel his players deserved to lose to Espanyol, claiming he "feels sorry" for them.

Varane says there is no time to be down in the dumps over the loss though, claiming they need to get back to winning ways when they face Getafe on Sunday.

"We performed better in the first half than we did in the second," the France international said. "We always have to give our best when we pull this shirt on.

"We can't give up on La Liga; we have to show the same drive. We're not looking at the points, we have to focus on the games and try to win them because that's what this badge demands of us. You can never write us off."

Real's best chance of silverware now looks like being the Champions League, where they head in to the second leg of their last-16 tie against Paris-Saint Germain with a 3-1 advantage from the meeting at the Bernabeu.

PSG's hopes of overturning that deficit took a blow this week when they lost Neymar to injury but Varane is still expecting the French giants to throw everything at Los Blancos in the fight for a quarter-final berth.

"We always want to win and this won't have any effect on the PSG game. Regardless of whether Neymar plays or not, it'll be tough because they'll come out all guns blazing. We're ready for it and will continue with our preparations," he added.

Real are 3/10 to qualify for the last-eight, while PSG are 5/2.

Varane refusing to throw in the towel

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane says the defending champions can not give up on the Primera Liga title despite Tuesday's loss at Espanyol.

Los Blancos missed the chance to trim Barcelona's sizeable lead at the top of the table as they went down to a shock 1-0 defeat to Espanyol, who came in to the game having failed to win any of their seven previous matches.

Gerard Moreno's stoppage-time winner for the home side condemned Real to a fifth league defeat of the season and they are now 150/1 to retain their league title as they sit 14 points behind Barca, who have played a game less.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane said after the game that he did not feel his players deserved to lose to Espanyol, claiming he "feels sorry" for them.

Varane says there is no time to be down in the dumps over the loss though, claiming they need to get back to winning ways when they face Getafe on Sunday.

"We performed better in the first half than we did in the second," the France international said. "We always have to give our best when we pull this shirt on.

"We can't give up on La Liga; we have to show the same drive. We're not looking at the points, we have to focus on the games and try to win them because that's what this badge demands of us. You can never write us off."

Real's best chance of silverware now looks like being the Champions League, where they head in to the second leg of their last-16 tie against Paris-Saint Germain with a 3-1 advantage from the meeting at the Bernabeu.

PSG's hopes of overturning that deficit took a blow this week when they lost Neymar to injury but Varane is still expecting the French giants to throw everything at Los Blancos in the fight for a quarter-final berth.

"We always want to win and this won't have any effect on the PSG game. Regardless of whether Neymar plays or not, it'll be tough because they'll come out all guns blazing. We're ready for it and will continue with our preparations," he added.

Real are 2/7 to qualify for the last-eight, while PSG are 11/4.

Griezmann in no rush to leave

France international Antoine Griezmann insists he does not want to leave Atletico Madrid even though he continues to be linked with a transfer to Manchester United.

The 25-year-old, who was one of the stars of Euro 2016, has been with Atletico since the summer of 2014 having previously starred for Real Sociedad.

He has scored an impressive 56 goals in 100 La Liga games for Atletico, who are 4/11 to beat Granada on Saturday with Griezmann 10/11 to score at any time in the encounter.

"I always get the same questions about my future and it is getting a bit tiresome," Griezmann said. "Like I always say, I am very happy here at Atletico and in Madrid.

"The weather is great, my team-mates are some of the best you can have and I am working with a great coach.

"So I am feeling very well here. I see no reason why I would want to leave."

Griezmann, who is contracted to Atletico until June 2021, has found the net 20 times in 37 appearances in all competitions so far this season.

Meanwhile, Barcelona are 10/1 to win the La Liga title this season while Real Madrid can be backed at 1/20.

Ronaldo plans for another decade

Cristiano Ronaldo believes his new contract with Real Madrid will not be his last at the club, as he looks to carry on playing for the Spaniards for another 10 years.

The European champions announced on Sunday that the Portugal international had put pen to paper on a five-year extension to see him through until he is 36.

That would take his stay at the Bernabeu to 12 years following his record-breaking move from Manchester United in 2009.

Ronaldo is confident that will not be the end of his career, ruling out retirement once his new deal has run out.

The superstar forward hopes he will carry on playing for Real into his 40s, claiming he is already thinking signing another long-term extension with Los Blancos in the future.

"I'm happy here and want to stay here, but this will not be my last deal in football," Ronaldo said at the press conference to celebrate his new deal.

"I want to play until I'm 41. I have ten years of football left in me – I can't confirm that I'll be at Real Madrid in my 40s, I can't play here forever, whether they want me or not."

For now, Ronaldo wants to focus on winning more silverware with Real and scoring more goals having netted 371 times in 360 appearances since joining.

"In a very special moment of time in my life, I'm going to be here for another five years. It's not going to be my last contract, let it be known, but it's very special," he added.

"My thoughts are I want to continue being the best. I want to wear this shirt with pride and I'm sure I'm going to continue contributing the same over the next five years as I have been, scoring goals and winning titles."

Ronaldo is the latest big name for Real to sign a new deal after Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric all penned extensions earlier in the season.

Real currently sit atop the La Liga standings, two points clear of Barcelona, and are 1/20 to win the Spanish title this season.

They are also 5/6 to win the Champions League for a third time during the Ronaldo era.

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