Sports

Ramos claims 
underdog status

HEAR, HEAR: Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos (above) believes Atletico are the favourites as they are the Spanish league champions. - PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos claims his side are underdogs for this Sunday's Champions League final against Atletico Madrid following the Rojiblancos' Primera Division success.

Real head into the match having won the European Cup a record nine times, whereas the only time Atletico have reached the final was in 1974 when they lost to Bayern Munich.

Real have also dominated the head-to-head record between the clubs in recent times, and were unbeaten against their arch-rivals for 13 years until last season's Copa del Rey final, which Atletico won 2-1.

Atletico followed that up with a 1-0 league win at the Bernabeu last September, but since that match, Real have won two of three meetings between the two while drawing the other.

Despite those records, Ramos believes Atletico are favourites to win the title in Lisbon after they pipped Barcelona and Real to the Primera Divison - their first since 1996.

"We are up against a great team in Atletico Madrid who, from my point of view, are the favourites," the Spain international said.

"They are the deserved current league champions and deserve credit for reaching the Champions League final.

"But that doesn't mean they are going to be the champions of the Champions League."

Real may have won the competition a record amount of times but the last time they did it was in 2002, their ninth win, and they will be desperate to make it a perfect 10 on Sunday.

Ramos added: "The final is for the fans. It's a competition which, after so many years, really excites both us and the fans.

"It's going to be a very hard-fought final. We're expecting a very physical match which will be won by whoever commit the fewest mistakes."

PEPE, BENZEMA OUT?

Meanwhile, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is expecting to be able to call on Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo pulled out during the warm-up before their final league game against Espanyol last Saturday, but declares himself fit for this Sunday.

However, defender Pepe and striker Karim Benzema are doubtful, reported Spanish daily Marca.

Said Ancelotti : "As things currently stand, there's no chance they can play."

If the duo are unavailable, French defender Raphael Varane and midfielder Isco will step in, which could mean only Ronaldo and Bale leading the line. - Wire Services.