Sergio Ramos believes Lionel Messi is one of the best players in history after revealing the “huge respect” he has for Barcelona’s captain.
Real Madrid will host Messi and Barcelona tomorrow night in a Clasico that could decide where the La Liga title ends of this season.
Barcelona currently occupy top spot in Spain but a win for Los Blancos would see them leapfrog their rivals at the summit with 12 games to go.
“I have huge respect for him. I think he’s one of the greatest players in history and I have huge respect for him,” Ramos said according to the Daily Mail. “I hope Sunday isn’t his day, that would mean we’ve done our job, and if on top of that we can get a good result even better.
The 33-year-old, who has 170 caps for Spain, added: “I wish him all the best as a fellow professional but only as long as it doesn’t affect us negatively! It’s hard, but he has my maximum respect, I think he’s one of the best.”
Ramos will likely start alongside French World Cup winner Raphael Varane, with the two forming a formidable partnership at the back.
While there are question marks around Zinedine Zidane’s side offensively, they have let in the least amount of goals in La Liga, with just 17 conceded from 25 games.
The game will hold an added significance for Ramos as he looks set to overtake legendary midfielder Xavi, former Madrid players Manuel Sanchis and Francisco Gento in holding the record for most appearances in El Clasico.
It will be the 43rd time he has faced Blaugrana in the white of Madrid and he believes a victory for his side would be a massive boost for the whole squad.
“To be the player with the most El Clasico appearances is a massive source of joy. I hope that I can go on and play in many more,” he said. “That’d be a good sign, because it’d mean that I was here for many more years.
“It’s not just any other game. Despite there just being three points at stake, as there is in every game, El Clasico is a game unlike any other. Beating Barcelona would bring us great joy. What’s more, it usually has a really positive impact on the group in terms of morale.”