Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid, Clubs, Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos, Story, UEFA Champions League

ESPN FC’s Alejandro Moreno and Ross Dyer make their picks for the first day of Champions League fixtures.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has laughed off Antoine Griezmann’s Ballon d’Or claims after the Atletico Madrid forward compared himself to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Griezmann said he is “at the top” in football and asked whether he was dining at the same table as Messi, he said: “Yes, I think so.”

Ramos hit back, and told Griezmann he needs to learn from his senior teammates and coach.

“Ignorance makes you very bold,” Ramos told a news conference ahead of Real Madrid’s Champions League opener against Roma.

“When I hear this guy talk, I think of the likes of Totti, Buffon, Maldini, Raul, Xavi, Iniesta, Iker, they’ve won a lot of titles at home and none of them won a Ballon d’Or.

“Everyone’s free to give their opinion. He needs to be advised by [Diego Simeone], [Diego] Godin, Koke and players like this and to get back to the values that suit them.”

The clash is the latest episode in Ramos’ rivalry with Griezmann and Atletico Madrid. Griezmann and Atleti beat Real 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup back in August and the French forward was quick to rub it in afterwards. 

Real Madrid, who beat Liverpool 3-1 in May for a third Champions League trophy in a row, embark on their title defence without Cristiano Ronaldo. Madrid’s all-time leading scorer left for Juventus in the summer while Zinedine Zidane, mastermind of those three triumphs, stepped down.

“He marked a marvellous period for Real Madrid and he shattered practically all of the records here, but that’s in the past,” Ramos said. “We can’t live on what Cristiano did in the past. The hole he left is very big but it’s covered by others players with a lot of ambition and desire and we have a big squad to compete. We wish him the best, as always.

“He gave us a lot and took very little away. He was very direct, had lots of goals in him and we played more on the counter. Now, we have to adapt to another style. We have more possession and another way to hurt our opponents and that is what we have to exploit.”

Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui refused to confirm his first choice goalkeeper for the Champions League, after summer signing Thibaut Courtois’ arrival from Chelsea.

Keylor Navas kept goal for Madrid’s three Champions League successes in a row and started the first three matches of the season before Courtois replaced him for win against Leganes and 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao.

“I’ll say it again but we have magnificent solution in goals,” Lopetegui said. “I’m not going to say anything regarding who will start.”

ESPN FC’s Real Madrid blogger Robbie Dunne contributed to this report.

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