Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari says it is everyone's duty to protect Sergio Ramos after it was alleged on Friday that the defender violated anti-doping rules.
Ramos was the subject of a report by Der Spiegel, which claimed, as part of the ongoing Football Leaks investigation, that the captain of the club twice violated the anti-doping rules, once after the final victory of the Champions League over the Juventus in Cardiff last year and again in a league match against Málaga at the beginning of 2018.
When asked if he believed there was a persecution against his player, Solari said: "Sergio Ramos is, above all, an honest man, and he is an emblem of Real Madrid, football and sports in general, it is the duty of all of us to protect him, also in journalism.
"The truth is not debatable and especially when it tarnishes a person's honor. If things are published that are not true, society is left unprotected. "
Solari was also asked twice about Isco, who has not started any of his five games in charge so far, but gave the same answer on both occasions.
"He is working well," he said at the pre-match press conference before the Champions League clash against Roma on Tuesday. "He's an important player, like the other 23. I'm counting on him."
Madrid is currently second in Group G, equals in points with leaders Rome, and will seek to tie the classification to the last 16 by defeating the Italians at the Stadio Olimpico.
"We have to be at the level of our history in this competition," said Solari. "It sounds easy, but it is not".
As interim boss, the Argentine won his first four matches as coach of Madrid and then was given a contract until 2021, but his team was beaten 3-0 in La Liga on Saturday by Eibar.
"It was a big blow," said the 42-year-old. "But it's in the past now, we've analyzed it and we'll try to improve, we have to think about our next game."
When asked if the weekend's defeat means that Tuesday's game is now a "trial by fire", he said: "Every game is a test of fire here, every training session, Madrid, in its 116 years of history, he has always risen after falling, that's why he's the best club in history. "
On Saturday, the injured Casemiro was missed in midfield and the Brazilian will be absent on Tuesday.
"There are different players that can operate in that position," said Solari. "With different characteristics. Each game is also different.
"The central defenders can play there. [Dani] Ceballos, who obviously did better against Celta (Vigo) than against Eibar, but the game was different. [Marcos] Llorente is the most similar in the squad. There's also [Toni] Kroos [Federico] Valverde … "
A player who is back is Dani Carvajal, who returned from a spell on the sidelines to replace the injured Álvaro Odriozola on Saturday.
"Unfortunately, I had to continue after the injury of a teammate," he said. "I could not warm up and the match conditions were not the best, but I felt comfortable and I'm happy to be back."
Carvajal said recently that the previous boss, Julen Lopetegui, fired by Madrid in October, was the best coach with whom he had worked.
"It's not about defending one or the other," he said when asked about that on Monday. "It's a personal opinion, Julen is no longer here because of the results, it's hard to be a coach at Real Madrid.
"Now with Solari, we are happy and we are working well. He conveys confidence and I'm sure we can achieve great things with him. "