Eden Hazard has returned to training after a lengthy injury lay-off, while Real Madrid have also been able to welcome Sergio Ramos back into the fold.

Hazard signed from Chelsea in June but missed a chunk earlier in the season due to a hamstring injury and has been out of action since November with an ankle issue.

The forward has been restricted to just 13 appearances across all competitions for Los Blancos, scoring one goal.

However, Hazard is now edging closer to making his comeback after returning to Madrid training on Thursday, running on the grass as well as performing exercises with the ball, according to the club's official website.

It seems unlikely that Hazard will be fit to feature against Real Valladolid on Sunday, though Madrid will be hopeful of having the Belgium international back by the time Atletico Madrid visit Santiago Bernabeu on February 1.

Madrid were also boosted by the return of captain Ramos, who has not played since injuring his ankle in the Supercopa de Espana final, in which he scored the winning penalty against Atleti, though the defender did not work with the ball during Thursday's session.

Zinedine Zidane hailed Sergio Ramos as an example to everyone at Real Madrid after the captain made an unexpected bid to feature against Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday.

Ramos dispatched the winning penalty as Madrid claimed the Supercopa de Espana at the expense of rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend.

But the 33-year-old defender suffered a sprained ankle during the game and was expected to spend a spell on the sidelines until he emerged for training at Valdebebas on Friday.

"We know the character that Sergio has," Zidane told a pre-match news conference. "He always wants to play. He's done everything possible this week to be available and to be ready.

"He is a great example to the rest of the team. He's our reference for everyone at this club and an example everyone should follow."

Ramos' centre-back partner Raphael Varane is in line to make a landmark 300th appearance in Madrid colours this weekend.

Zidane first took charge of his countryman, who joined the 13-time European champion from Lens in 2011, when he featured in the club's youth categories.

"I knew the potential he had when he came, I knew he could play a lot of games for us," he said,

"But, in eight years, 300 games is not something that everyone can get to.

"I hope he can play another 300 – at least another 100!"

Behind Ramos and Varane, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is enjoying a strong run of form, with his performance in the Supercopa final standing in stark contrast to some of the struggles he experienced after joining from Chelsea before the start of last season.

"I think he's proven since the day he came that he's a great goalkeeper. He's always been a part of the group of the best goalkeepers in the world," Zidane added.

"He's had some difficult moments, of course. He's known how to overcome these difficult moments and he knows the level that he's got.

"With a lot of hard work he's been able to bring himself up to this level and we're very happy for him."

Real Madrid won their 11th Supercopa de Espana title as Sergio Ramos tucked home the winning spot-kick to see off city rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 in a penalty shootout after a dismal goalless draw.

With Atleti having failed to convert their opening two penalties, Madrid captain Ramos proved their nemesis again when he sent Jan Oblak the wrong way.

Federico Valverde and Alvaro Morata - against his former club - spurned the best opportunities of a dour 90 minutes at King Abdullah Sports City stadium on Sunday, though the quality did improve in extra-time.

However, a string of excellent saves from both goalkeepers, either side of Valverde's late red card, forced penalties, with Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey missing from the spot.

Ramos thkept his composure to take the title back to Santiago Bernabeu after Dani Carvajal, Rodrygo and Luka Modric also hit the target from 12 yards.

 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

Clement Lenglet called for two contentious refereeing decisions to be respected after Real Madrid were left disgruntled with VAR during Wednesday's goalless Clasico.

The Barcelona defender was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he caught Raphael Varane's thigh with a raised boot in the first half at Camp Nou.

Referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez allowed play to continue and decided against punishing another apparent infringement on Varane a few moments later, the Madrid centre-back tumbling to the floor following a tug on his shirt from Ivan Rakitic.

Neither incident was reviewed on the pitchside monitor as video official opted not to intervene.

Madrid called attention to the "two controversial moments" in a statement on their website after captain Sergio Ramos criticised the failure of technology to fix what he viewed as "pretty clear" fouls.

Lenglet disagreed and said the decisions should be respected.

"For me, it's not a penalty," he told Movistar when asked about his challenge on fellow France defender Varane.

"I wanted to get the ball out with my head and give strength to my movement. I used my body and legs for that and unfortunately I touched Raphael's leg.

"I'm the protagonist and I know I'm going to clear the ball. I'm not a player who likes to kick people. But if some believe it's a penalty, it's up to the VAR.

"The VAR made a decision and must be respected."

Madrid winger Gareth Bale later had a goal disallowed for an offside against Ferland Mendy as neither side mustered a winner.

Jordi Alba squandered a good chance for Barca before Lionel Messi, who had one attempt cleared off the line, made a mess of a late opportunity to snatch all three points.

"We had clear scoring chances," Lenglet said. "Two for Messi, Luis Suarez. We're left with a bittersweet feeling.

"Madrid are a team with quality and when they come here, they come more to defend."

Sergio Ramos questioned why VAR was not used to check two "clear" fouls on Raphael Varane in the penalty area during Wednesday's goalless Clasico.

In the first half at Camp Nou, Varane was caught by a high challenge from compatriot Clement Lenglet and then had his shirt pulled by Ivan Rakitic when competing for a corner.

Referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez did not award a penalty and neither incident was checked using the VAR pitchside monitor midweek.

Madrid captain Ramos was left bemused as to why VAR did not intervene, having watched back the footage at half-time.

"We saw them at the break and they look pretty clear. They're both penalties, but we can't change that now," he said to Movistar.

"VAR is here to help. It's bad luck. On another day, it'll be our turn to have a penalty that they don't check."

Gareth Bale saw a second-half goal correctly disallowed for offside after a VAR check, as Madrid failed to make their early dominance count and Barca's front three struggled to get into the game.

The result means defending champions Barca remain top of LaLiga but level on points with Madrid, who are now unbeaten in 12 matches in all competitions.

Ramos, who became the top appearance-maker in the fixture's history as he played Madrid's fierce rivals for the 43rd time, is frustrated the mid-season break starts after Sunday's game against Athletic Bilbao as he wants to sustain momentum.

"You can't be happy when you don't win, but getting something here is always positive," he said.

"We saw a great Real Madrid today, with a lot of personality, on a very tough pitch. We went to steal the ball, which helped us create many chances. There were few mistakes and that's the end result.

"We controlled the game quite well. We had more chances than them. It's not easy to get the ball off them. The strategy of pressing high worked well.

"We're going through a great dynamic in terms of play and we're also good physically. It's a shame the year is ending - we'd like this not to stop.

"Now, we have Athletic and hopefully we'll continue like this after the holidays."

Real Madrid salvaged a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Sunday thanks to a late Karim Benzema equaliser that Zinedine Zidane believes is proof of the team's fighting spirit.

Valencia looked to be heading for a 1-0 win when Carlos Soler put the hosts in front with 12 minutes to go, then surviving a scare as Luka Jovic had a goal disallowed for offside.

But Madrid continued to plug away and eventually restored parity deep into stoppage time – Benzema slamming home after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was remarkably denied when his header was saved by Jaume Domenech.

As such, Madrid go into Wednesday's Clasico against Barcelona with something of a morale boost, with Zidane suggesting the late goal highlights his team's mentality.

"This shows you what we are, we fight until the end. We fight and what we want is to get a good result," he told Movistar.

"We don't lower our arms. We got it [the equaliser] with the courtesy of Courtois and Karim. I'm glad for them because it has been a tremendous effort from everyone.

"You have to be proud of the game. When in such a difficult stadium, you concede a goal a few minutes from full-time, you can fall apart, but we still thought that something could be achieved, and we achieved it."

Club captain Sergio Ramos was less philosophical about dropping points, however, acknowledging he leaves Mestalla disappointed.

"Despite scoring at the end, it tastes a bit bitter despite adding a point. When you don't leave with the three points, you leave with that pity," he said.

"I think we've controlled the match well, with balance. We had in front of us a rival who came into the match in good form.

"We can't press for the full 90 minutes, but we've gone all the way. We've made a point that allows us to stay joint-top."

Sergio Ramos has joked there should be one Ballon d'Or award for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - and an alternative trophy for the rest of the world's footballers to fight over.

Real Madrid captain Ramos has a stack of individual accolades alongside the host of trophies he has won in his Santiago Bernabeu career.

But like so many great players of the last 12 years, he has been put in the shade by Messi and Ronaldo when it comes to the biggest awards.

From 2008, when Ronaldo first landed the Ballon d'Or, through to Messi scooping the honour earlier this month, the pair have had a near total duopoly, interrupted only in 2018 by Luka Modric's success.

Ronaldo has taken the prize five times and Messi six, prompting Ramos to jest that the pair should be left alone to slug it out for one trophy, while giving everyone else a chance of taking another.

"They could make a Ballon d'Or only for Cristiano and Messi depending on results...and another for the rest," Ramos told Mexican broadcaster TUDN. "In the end it would be better for football."

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk split Barcelona star Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo this year, taking second place in the vote conducted by France Football magazine.

But the star goal-getters have been the dominant figures in the world game for over a decade, establishing a rivalry for who will be remembered as the greatest of their generation.

Ramos played alongside Ronaldo for many years at Madrid, before the Portuguese moved to Italy in July 2018.

At the age of 33, and as he approaches 15 years as a Madrid player, the captain of Spain is targeting next year's Olympic Games football tournament and sees himself playing on for several seasons yet.

"I will play until the excitement goes, but my excitement is very great," Ramos said, according to Marca. "I will make the most of everything football has to offer for as long as I feel good. I look after myself well and I hope to continue for many years."

Dani Carval was the unlikely match-winner for Real Madrid as a gritty 2-1 victory at Deportivo Alaves took them top of LaLiga on Saturday.

The right-back prodded home at the end of a chaotic 17-minute period at a sodden Mendizorroza that saw the two sides share three second-half goals.

Sergio Ramos scored first, nodding in Toni Kroos' free-kick, then turned villain with a foul on Joselu that allowed Lucas Perez to restore parity from the spot.

Madrid rose to the challenge and restored their advantage three minutes after the equaliser to go three points clear of Barcelona, who visit Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Eden Hazard's ankle injury opened the door for Gareth Bale to make his first start since October 5 and the winger almost made an early contribution, his deflected header hitting the post in the 10th minute.

Eder Militao was involved in two Alaves penalty shouts either side of that chance, the first resulting in Aleix Vidal being booked for simulation when there appeared to be a slight trip.

The rain intensified after an error-strewn first half and, in the 52nd minute, Madrid raised their level.

Kroos curled an inviting free-kick into the box and Ramos glanced it beyond goalkeeper Pacheco for his fifth goal of the season in all competitions.

It took just 13 minutes for the centre-back to undo his good work.

Ramos raised a hand to Joselu's face in the box and Perez sent Alphonse Areola, chosen ahead of Thibaut Courtois, the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.

Madrid were tasked with responding and Carvajal delivered the decisive goal in quick fashion, prodding home the winner at point-blank range after Pacheco blocked an Isco header on the line.

Alaves pressed hard for a second leveller but desperate goal-line interventions from Marcelo and Areola in the closing stages denied both Perez and Manu Garcia, before Federico Valverde missed a clear chance for a third in the dying seconds.

Sergio Ramos described Spain's 7-0 demolition of Malta as an "unforgettable night" as the Real Madrid star received a special salute from the Cadiz crowd on Friday.

Ramos captained Robert Moreno's side to an emphatic victory at Estadio Ramon de Carranza that ensured they will finish top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group F.

First-half goals from Alvaro Morata and Santi Cazorla put Spain, who had already booked a spot at the European Championship, on track for three points before the floodgates opened in the second half, with Pablo Sarabia, Gerard Moreno and Jesus Navas all scoring along with debutants Pau Torres and Dani Olmo.

Ramos was honoured before kick-off with a tifo in the stands, having broken Iker Casillas' record for all-time Spain appearances in last month's draw with Norway.

The 33-year-old felt he was unlikely to forget the occasion of his 169th international match.

"This win is the best present. It's a great personal joy and a good night for the national team," said Ramos.

"Malta were very deep from the first minute of the game. We paid attention to the coach's instructions, played down the wings so we could influence the play between the lines and open them up.

"I'm happy in general for the goals, for the debutants and for our qualification.

"I'm very grateful to Cadiz for their support. Hopefully, in Madrid, people will also turn out for the national team.

"We're all delighted with the victory, the atmosphere, the crowd, everything. For me, it's been an unforgettable night."

Spain conclude their qualifying campaign against Romania at the Wanda Metropolitano on Monday.

Sergio Ramos has reiterated his desire to represent Spain at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Captain for club and country, Real Madrid defender Ramos is Spain's most-capped player, with 168 appearances on the international stage. 

He has never participated at the Olympics, however, where the football tournament is comprised of under-23 squads allowed to select three over-aged players.

Ramos' long-time international centre-back partner Gerard Pique has also voiced his desire to take part at Tokyo 2020, despite having retired from duty with Spain after the 2018 World Cup

"It makes me excited to always represent Spain. Like Pique, all the players who could play an Olympic Games with Spain would do it," Ramos told a news conference ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Malta – Robert Moreno's side already assured of their place at the finals.

"First there is a Euro and then we will see, but I am excited because it is something I have never experienced."

Another of Ramos' colleagues during a glorious era with Spain, David Villa, announced this week that he will retire in January, concluding a career in which he became his country's all-time record goalscorer. 

"He is a legend, one of the best players in Spain and the world," Ramos said of the former Valencia and Barcelona forward, who was a key member of Spain's triumphant campaigns at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

"I congratulate him on his career and for everything he has given for Spain and the teams in which he has played."

Ramos will turn 34 in March but is not considering hanging up his boots just yet. 

In fact, he has designs on taking one more shot at World Cup glory in 2022.

"As long as football allows me and I am physically well and looking forward, I will not anticipate [my retirement]," he added.

"We have a wonderful Euro ahead of us. I would like to reach the World Cup. I want to win again with Spain."

Carlos Marchena believes former Spain team-mate and Real Madrid great Sergio Ramos would relish the opportunity to represent his country at next year's Olympic Games.

Ramos, who became Spain's most capped player last month, has won the World Cup and two European Championships for his country, while the defender also has four Champions League medals with Madrid.

Yet he has never appeared at the Olympics, where under-23 teams are allowed to field three overage players.

Luis de la Fuente coaches Spain's Olympic team, who have qualified for the upcoming Games, and suggested he would be proud to coach Ramos, who has discussed the possibility of appearing.

Marchena, who played alongside Ramos for Spain until 2011, understands why Tokyo 2020 could be a target for the 33-year-old, likely representing his last opportunity to claim gold.

"I have the luck of knowing Sergio for many years," Marchena told Omnisport. "We came from the same place since we were children, we have many friends in common and I know him very well.

"Since he was a kid, you could already see what he is, a competitive animal. He always wants more, never gives up. Obviously he has made history, but he wants more.

"So all the challenges near him, he will want to accomplish them. Among those challenges are the Olympic Games.

"I am not the right person to decide, but I can tell you that he will fight to make history, to be the player with the most games played and [to] win everything, because he has this competitive gene."

Spain won the men's tournament at the 1992 Olympics and have twice collected silver medals.

Meanwhile, Ramos has earned 168 caps heading into the latest international break, with former Egypt winger Ahmed Hassan holding the all-time record on 184.

Karim Benzema maintained his impressive form with two first-half goals as Real Madrid eased to a 4-0 win at Eibar that takes them top of LaLiga.

Madrid suffered a 3-0 reverse on their last visit to Ipurua 12 months ago but were comfortable winners in Saturday's clash thanks to the impressive form of Benzema, who made it nine league goals for the season.

The 31-year-old gave the visitors a 17th-minute lead and doubled his tally from the penalty spot before the half-hour mark after Sergio Ramos had also converted from 12 yards.

Federico Valverde added a fourth for Zinedine Zidane's men, who climbed above Barcelona and surprise package Real Sociedad into top spot.

Madrid had won only two of 10 away league games since Zidane's return as coach but did not take long to assert their authority in the Basque Country, Valverde teeing up Benzema to convert the opener from close range.

Ramos tucked away the first of his side's penalties three minutes later after Pablo de Blasis stuck out a leg and tripped Eden Hazard inside the box.

Madrid put the game out of Eibar's reach with 29 minutes played, Benzema matching Ramos in sending Marko Dmitrovic the wrong way from the spot following Cote's challenge on Lucas Vazquez.

After a slow start to the second half, Madrid soon clicked into gear and had a fourth goal through Valverde's side-footed finish into the bottom-right corner.

Eibar struggled to muster much of a fight in the remainder of the match as Zidane's men claimed a fifth clean sheet in a row in all competitions.


What does it mean? Madrid move top of LaLiga

Last weekend's goalless home draw with Real Betis, two weeks on from a 1-0 loss away at Real Mallorca, led to fresh talk of a crisis at Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Madrid beat Galatasaray 6-0 in midweek and were just as impressive here, this win taking them three points above Barcelona, who play their game in hand against Celta Vigo later on Saturday.

Benzema surpasses Puskas

Benzema has now netted 11 goals in all competitions this season, this latest brace lifting him above the iconic Ferenc Puskas up to sixth on Madrid's list of all-time LaLiga scorers.

He also scored a double against Eibar in April and has been directly involved in nine goals in his nine LaLiga games against them.

Orellana struggles to make an impact

Fabian Orellana has been directly involved in five of Eibar's last six goals in LaLiga, but he failed to register a shot of any note prior to being replaced 25 minutes from time.

What's next?

Madrid's first match back after the international break is a home meeting with Real Sociedad on November 23, while Eibar host Deportivo Alaves the following day.

Sergio Ramos acknowledged Real Madrid wasted an opportunity to make a statement in LaLiga after their goalless draw with Real Betis.

Madrid would have moved top - clear of Barcelona by two points - with a victory on Saturday but failed to take their chances in a subdued encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Betis' Joel Robles made some fine saves late on, having initially denied Ramos an opener just before half-time, while Ferland Mendy also passed up a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock as Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw for the first time under Zinedine Zidane.

Captain Ramos insisted Los Blancos did all they could to carve out a lead but shrugged off the suggestion LaLiga's traditional big three of Madrid, Barca and Atletico Madrid are beginning to falter, despite all three sides failing to win on Saturday.

"Nothing's happening, that's just football, it's not easy," Ramos told Movistar. "Today, Levante beat Barcelona, you can't expect to win any game, whoever you're playing against.

"Our league is the best in the world, we're fortunate to be playing in it and we try to do our best.

"Today was a good opportunity to become the leaders, with the other results. We fought for the result from the first minute but couldn't take the goal.

"The attitude and work in defence was good. You have to give credit to Betis too, they're a team who like to keep the ball and play football, it's not easy.

"It's a bittersweet feeling to get just one point, we've lost an opportunity to go first and take the lead."

Betis' standout performer Robles, meanwhile, believes Saturday's draw - on the back of their victory over Celta Vigo - can provide the struggling Andalusian side with a much-needed morale boost after they lost four of their previous five LaLiga matches before Saturday.

"We are happy with the work of the boys, it gives confidence, it's a good point in a tough stadium to come to," said Robles.

"We're happy for the point and we needed to get one here. We need to get more confidence, we're still not at our highest level, but we're going to keep working.

"We were in a bad run, but we got the victory over Celta and now this result will give us confidence. We have to enjoy this point, rest and then in a week we have the derby."

Karim Benzema had a hand in three goals as he inspired Real Madrid to a 5-0 win over Leganes in LaLiga on Wednesday.

With last weekend's scheduled Clasico against Barcelona postponed due to political tension in Catalonia, Madrid appeared to have fun on their return to action as they toyed with rock-bottom Leganes, who had no answer to the classy Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Frenchman was central to a brutal Madrid start that saw them lead 2-0 within eight minutes – Benzema setting up Rodrygo Goes and Toni Kroos, before Sergio Ramos got in on the act from the spot.

Benzema eventually got a deserved goal of his own from 12 yards, taking him to seven for the season, and Luka Jovic finally got his first goal for the club in stoppage time as Los Blancos moved up to second – behind Barcelona – in the table.

Madrid looked in the mood right from the start and quickly charged into their two-goal lead, as Benzema teed up Rodrygo for a straightforward finish, before Kroos' deft flick from the striker's low cross left Juan Soriano with no chance.

Ramos increased the deficit in the 24th minute with a penalty, though he needed two opportunities as Soriano – who conceded the spot-kick for fouling Eden Hazard – was penalised via VAR for coming off his line when saving the Madrid captain's first attempt.

Benzema went agonisingly close to a fine goal just past the hour when his 25-yard strike came back off Soriano's left-hand post.

But Soriano had no such luck soon after when Benzema slammed home a cool penalty, won by Luka Modric after a clumsy tackle by Kenneth Omeruo.

Jovic wrapped up an emphatic victory late on, meeting Dani Carvajal's cross with a fine header to get off the mark for Madrid in his 10th outing.

 

What does it mean? Normal service restored in LaLiga

When promoted Granada sat top of the table at the weekend, there was certainly a feeling of refreshing unpredictability in LaLiga.

But, with Barca demolishing Real Valladolid on Tuesday and Madrid making light work of Leganes, the traditional heavyweights lead the way again at the summit.

Benzema bullies Leganes' backline

What a renaissance Benzema is enjoying. He has always been a very good link-up striker, providing plenty of assists across his Madrid career, but his display on Wednesday was quintessential Benzema. He worked selflessly and laid on two assists in a fine performance, capping it off with a well-taken penalty.

A miserable day for Omeruo

It was a day to forget for many of Leganes' back five, but Omeruo was particularly hapless, struggling to pick up Benzema several times and then tripping Modric for the second penalty.

What's next?

Madrid are at home again on Saturday as Real Betis are the visitors. On Sunday, Leganes host fellow strugglers Eibar, as they look to close the gap to the teams above them.

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