Past achievements count for nothing: Ramos
Sergio Ramos yesterday warned that Spain's recent glorious achievements count for nothing now that the reigning European and world champions' presence at next year's World Cup in Brazil is in doubt
Spain have won three consecutive major international tournaments, an unprecendented feat in top-flight football, and have not lost a competitive game since the start of their campaign at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
That remarkable record means they remain the favourites to beat France at the Stade de France today despite stumbling to a 1-1 draw against Finland at the weekend and handing the initiative in Group I to Les Bleus in the process.
“The numbers and statistics are there to back us up, but football has no memory,” said the Real Madrid defender. “What happened in the past matters for nothing now. We need to prove ourselves every day.
“Nobody can change what happened at the last two European Championships and the last World Cup, but we cannot live off these successes.
“We need to have the desire to keep improving and maintain that hunger to win titles. You don’t beat anybody with the badge on your shirt alone.”
‘Benzema is special’
Ramos, who agreed that the special feeling of winning his 100th cap for his country on Friday was somewhat spoiled by the result against Finland, added that he is mystified as to why so many in France are questioning Karim Benzema.
The striker, a teammate of Ramos at Real Madrid, has scored just three times in his last 23 appearances for his country, and not at all since a friendly against Estonia prior to Euro 2012.
He was again off-colour in France’s 3-1 win against Georgia last Friday, but Ramos believes that Benzema will soon be back among the goals.
“It is madness to question Benzema,” he said. “He is a very special player, extraordinary.
“There are not many players around who can reach his level when he is on form.”
Spain still the team to beat: France boss
France coach Didier Deschamps is not letting Spain's surprise slip-up against Finland lull him into a false sense of security ahead of today’s crunch World Cup qualifier between the two, warning his players they are still facing the best team in the world. He told AS: “Yes, it was a great surprise. I saw the game and Spain deserved to win. Nevertheless this result changes nothing. Spain are still the best team in the world. They were before, they are now and will be after the match.”
Messi wary of Bolivia threat
Argentina may be cruising towards the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but world player of the year Lionel Messi is still nervous ahead of today’s trip to Bolivia. The South American heavyweights are four points clear at the top of the qualifying table and enjoy an 11-point gap to the first team outside the four automatic qualifying positions with six games left. “Bolivia is going to be very difficult because of the altitude. I have very bad memories here.”