Ramos boost for Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos returned to Real Madrid training on Wednesday morning, having the previous afternoon overseen a squad dinner aimed at building team spirit ahead of Friday's Copa del Rey final against Atletico Madrid.
Ramos had been Madrid boss Jose Mourinho's main injury worry for the game, having been sidelined by a muscle injury since the Champions League second leg against Borussia Dortmund on April 30. But the Spain international returned to full training with his team-mates in the rain at the club's Valdebebas facility, and now looks set to start alongside Raul Albiol at centre-back in the 'derbi' decider.
Brazilian left-back Marcelo also made a surprise comeback to training on Wednesday, although he remains unlikely to start the final at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu having not played since tearing a hamstring against Real Betis on April 20. Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Alvaro Arbeloa and Gonzalo Higuain all appeared to come through the session without any recurrence of their recent injury issues.
"The squad completed at Real Madrid city its third session of the week ahead of the Copa del Rey final," said a statement released via the club's official website on Wednesday morning. "The main news at training was the return to working with the group of Ramos and Marcelo. [Raphael] Varane, after his knee surgery, has begun his process to return to the pitch."
The previous afternoon saw Ramos also playing a major role at a team-bonding dinner, which brought together all squad members apart from the convalescing Varane. Medical and training ground staff from the club also attended, although neither Mourinho nor any of his coaching team were reportedly invited. AS claimed this to be another sign of a breakdown in relationship between the coaches and players, given Mourinho had always attended similar meals in the past.
The Andalucian defender, who will likely captain the side this weekend in Iker Casillas' continued absence, tweeted a photo of himself seated at a table with Casillas, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Coentrao and Gonzalo Higuain, most of whom have clashed with Mourinho in recent months.
Enjoying a good meal with my teammates and gaining strength for Friday's final. Come on..!! twitter.com/SergioRamos/st…— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) May 14, 2013
This season's signings Luka Modric, Michael Essien and Diego Lopez apparently footed the bill for the meal.