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Ramos courts post-Clasico controversy with Catalonia comment

Sergio Ramos courted controversy with a remark about exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont after Real Madrid's 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in El Clasico.

Madrid centre-back Ramos only received a booking for catching Luis Suarez in the head with his arm during the second half at the Santiago Bernabeu.

When asked about the incident after the match, which saw Madrid fall 14 points behind Barca at the LaLiga summit, the Spain international made a questionable reference to Puigdemont.

Puigdemont is viewed as the president of Catalonia by separatists, but was ousted by Spanish authorities and fled to Belgium due to fear of imprisonment.

"In Barcelona they will say I should go to prison with Puigdemont. I went into the challenge and shrugged [Suarez] off, but I had no intention to hit him," said Ramos.

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Madrid claimed their fifth title of 2017 at the Club World Cup last week and the centre-back insisted their exploits this year proved losing El Clasico was not a failure.

"Anyone who thinks that just needs to look back at 2017 and review the statistics," he said, before urging the players to keep fighting in LaLiga despite their deficit to leaders Barca.

"The Clasico could've been the icing on the cake, but it wasn't to be. We've been hit with the double whammy of the result and falling 14 points behind.

"Our history and our badge oblige us to fight until the end. I has become difficult, we must be realistic, but while a possibility remains we will keep fighting – that is our DNA.

"This hurts more than any other game, but we can use it to reflect to try to keep improving, but this defeat doesn't tarnish our 2017, which has been a historic year."