Sergio Ramos' spat with fans adds to Madrid-Sevilla rivalry

MADRID: Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos will be looking forward to seeing the back of Sevilla and its fans after their top-of-the-table Spanish league match on Sunday.

Most players who return in a different jersey to a club they used to grace, and where they were cherished, are often celebrated and welcomed, until kickoff. But almost 12 years after Ramos transferred to Madrid, some Sevilla fans retain a dim view of his departure.

The fate of draws and scheduling mean this matchup will be the third in less than two weeks between the clubs.

Ramos has been booed by Sevilla fans at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in his hometown, but some "disrespectful" fans went further on Thursday when they allegedly insulted him during a Copa del Rey game.

Ramos angered the fans further when he converted a penalty kick "Panenka" style and celebrated by provoking part of the local Seville crowd. He apologized to the majority of the fans, but said the radical supporters who insulted him didn't deserve his respect.

"Sevilla will always be home for me whether they jeer me or not," Ramos said. "But I'm the captain of Madrid and I'll always try to do my best to help my team."

Some of the discontentment with Ramos comes from when he moved to Madrid in 2005. The player was at odds with the club president at the time, and fans were not happy with how the negotiations were conducted.

"It wasn't what it looked like, but I don't think it's worth talking about it now," he said. "When they bury me, it will be with a flag of Sevilla and a flag of Madrid, that's not going to change."

Sevilla on Friday condemned the fans disparaging Ramos, and asked them to "refrain from insulting rival clubs and players" in the future as it "damages the club's image and can lead to serious sanctions."

It is also asked the Spanish league to consider sanctions against Ramos for his actions, saying they may be considered disciplinary infractions.

Madrid drew with Sevilla 3-3 on Thursday to advance to the Copa quarterfinals 6-3 on aggregate, and claim the Spanish record for itself of the longest unbeaten streak, at 40 games.

Madrid will be defending a four-point league lead on Sunday when it returns to Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.

Third-place Barcelona will try to keep pace with the leaders when it faces Las Palmas on Saturday at Camp Nou. Barca is one point behind Sevilla and five behind Madrid.

Lionel Messi has 12 goals in his last 11 matches, but he has never scored against Las Palmas, the only first-division club yet to concede a goal to the playmaker.

Also on Saturday, fourth-place Atletico Madrid hosts Real Betis with sights set on a third successive win to cut into its nine-point deficit to Madrid.