Atletico-Madrid rivalry heats up ahead of semifinal

MADRID (AP) " The rivalry between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid has intensified before the second leg of their Champions League semifinal, with Atletico going on Twitter to take some shots at the rival and Madrid captain Sergio Ramos coming out to defend his club.

The debate has gone beyond the teams' performances on the field, turning into a discussion about the moral values of the rich Madrid and the hard-working Atletico.

Atletico has been sending a series of tweets in the past few days to praise its fans for having unconditional love for the team despite the results, accompanied by the hashtag "they can't understand."

The tweets talked about "humility, hard work and team." One said "I love you for your values, not for your victories." Another read: "Know how to lose and know how to win."

Atletico was upset after Madrid displayed a huge banner in the first leg with the phrase, "Tell me how it feels," along with an image of the Champions League trophy and the words "Milan" and "Lisbon," the cities which hosted the finals where the Spanish giant defeated Atletico in 2014 and 2016.

The third force in Spanish football, Atletico also lost to Madrid in the 2015 quarterfinals. The losses in Lisbon and Milan were heart-breaking to Atletico and its fans, coming in a penalty shootout last year and after extra time in 2014.

Diego Simeone's team was looking to finally get some revenge this season, but a 3-0 loss in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium left it on the verge of yet another elimination.

Ramos said Madrid was not going to be intimidated by the tweets, and dismissed the notion that only Atletico players have the right moral values.

"It seems that we all grew up in Beverly Hills and with a lot of money," Ramos said on Tuesday. "There are also people here from the hood, humble, with values ??and manners. Everything is decided out on the field, 11 against 11. We respect all these campaigns and all that is being said, but it will not change anything. We'll continue with our same sacrifice, humility and will fight out on the pitch."

Atletico captain Gabi Fernandez later talked about Ramos' comments.

"Being humble has nothing to do with where you are raised or with how much money you have," he said. "The humility that I identify myself with is the one that represents our fans."

Madrid is trying to win its 12th Champions League title, while Atletico is looking for its first. In addition to the runner-up finishes to the rival, it also lost the final in 1974, to Bayern Munich.

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More AP Champions League: http://apne.ws/2lgcPZm

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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