It’s the biggest game in world football – El Clasico.
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Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid
18.33 – WE ARE JUST 20 minutes away from the biggest game in world football. For the first time in this season’s La Liga campaign, heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid lock horns and, with Los Blancos already trailing their Catalan rivals by eight points at this early stage, it promises to be another full-blooded meeting tonight.
The team line-ups will be with you in a matter of seconds…
18.36 – The big selection news is that, without first choice pairing Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, Tito Vilanova has opted for full-back Adriano alongside Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba in defence.
For Real Madrid, Mesut Ozil starts in midfield, as does Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso.
Barcelona: Valdés, Dani Alves, Fàbregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Mascherano, Sergio, Pedro, Alba & Adriano. Subs: Pinto, Montoya, Bartra, Song, Sergi Roberto, Alexis, Villa.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Cristiano, Di María, Benzema. Subs: Adan, Coentrao, Kaka, Essien, Albiol, Modric, Higuain.
We will go to the Camp Nou which is a very difficult stadium but we have belief in our chances and that we can get a good result. Barca have a very strong side with strength in depth.”
18.43 – As always, the world’s media is all over this game. Here’s how a newspaper in El Salvador chose to depict the rivalry:
18.47 – Just minutes to go now before kick-off at the Camp Nou. Why not check out 53 great pics of past meetings between the sides.
18.51 – What an atmosphere…
18.54 – We’re up and running. It looks like the home side central defenders for the night will be defensive midfielder Mascherano and Brazilian full-back Adriano. You’d would think the attacking options Madrid have would tear them apart… but it’s not that simple. They have to get the ball first.
18.58 – We’ve had our first shot of the night as Angel Di Maria skies an effort after a neat flick by Ronaldo and good work from Karim Benzema.
19.03 – Alves bosses Ozil out of possession and Barcelona pour forward with intent. A series of ten passes lead to Iniesta with the ball at his feet inside the box but Pepe does well to read his next move and intercept. Cautious enough first few minutes, as you might expect.
19.07 – Madrid find space on the right flank and Ronaldo’s cross finds its way to Benzema, who is completely unmarked at the back post. The Frenchman goes for the first time volley but gets the execution all wrong and send his striker closes to the corner flag. You’d expect better from a player who can be clinical in front of goal.
Pepe, often the aggressor, holds his leg on the ground after being caught by Cesc Fabregas.
19.11 – First corner of the game and it goes Madrid’s way. They’ll be hoping to use their superior height at set-piece and very nearly take the lead when Sergio Ramos jumps highest to head wide of the mark from close range.
19.14 – A couple of step-overs from Pedro, then he feeds Fabregas, who in turn plays to the feet of Iniesta. His curling effort from 20 yards is high and wide.
19.16 – GOAL! Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid (Cristiano Ronaldo)
He’s been quiet so far but only needs one shot to score, as he’s just shown. Benzema with a swivel and tee-up, then the Portuguese superstar drills a strike past Victor Valdes on his near post.
19.20 – Should be 2-o to Madrid and Barca are in some trouble here. Di Maria threads through for Benzema but he can only find the post. Di Maria follows in for the rebound but scuffs wide.
Dani Alves was at fault for the goal by failing to get a challenge in on Ronaldo and the former Sevilla full-back is clearly struggling with an injury. He is replaced by Spanish U21 international Martin Montoya and this Barcelona defence is looking less assured by the minute.
19.23 – GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (Lionel Messi)
Like Ronaldo, Messi hasn’t been in full flow during the opening 30 minutes but no matter as the world’s best player levels for the home side. A Pedro cross isn’t dealt with properly and bobbles about before Messi thumps the loose ball into the back of the net.
Credit: MANU FERNANDEZ/AP/Press Association Images
19.31 – Alvaro Arbeloa goes down easy under a challenge from Jordi Alves and the visitors win a cheap free-kick. Then Pedro picks up the first yellow card of the night for catching Ramos with a high foot.
19.32 – By the way, both Messi and Ronaldo are now tied on seven La Liga goals each for the season after their strikes tonight. Two remarkable individuals.
19.35 – Been a bit scrapping in the last few minutes and Xabi Alonso finds himself in the referee’s book for a couple of fouls, the latest of which sees him catch Spanish team-mate Xavi.
It’s been a relatively clean game so far and hopefully it stays that way.
19.38 – Half-time: Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid
Ozil brings down Messi but Barcelona waste the free-kick after taking it short. A big cheer then rings around the stadium when Ronaldo miscontrols a pass. And that’s the last of the half’s action.
19.44 – A man for the big occasion…
19.52 – Second half, let’s go.
19.55 – We’ve played about a minute since the restart and there have already been two notable incidents. Ozil takes a tumble but isn’t awarded a free-kick then Messi goes on a trademark run. His pass is snuffed out, however.
20.00 – Pepe living dangerously by arriving a split second late with a challenge on Iniesta, who storms into the Madrid box. The defender catches his opponent then pulls out immediately as the Spaniard inevitably goes to ground. Like the Ozil claim, they’ve been given before.
20.02 – Sergio Busquets sees yellow for a professional foul on Ronaldo. Said player brushes himself off and steps up to take the free-kick but can’t beat the wall.
20.07 – Risky from Alonso. Already on a yellow, the former Liverpool man chops down Messi 30 yards out…
20.09 – GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid (Lionel Messi)
Messi chooses to take the free-kick himself and it’s perfection. He curls it just over the wall and into the corner with Iker Casillas helpless.
20.12 – A couple of changes to report. Gonzalo Higuain on for Benzema and Fabregas makes way for Alexis Sanchez.
20.14 – GOAL! Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid (Cristiano Ronaldo)
This is incredible and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. There is much more to El Clasico than Messi v Ronaldo but they are undoubtedly the spectacle’s two main stars. Ozil plays a through-ball for Ronaldo and he beats Valdes for the second time tonight.
And there’s still plenty of time for more twists and turns.
20.15 – Already a legend…
20.21 – Messi’s second was a peach of a free-kick:
YouTube credit: Eme10343
20.25 – Messi tries his luck again from a free but can repeat the trick. Higuain is kept out by Valdes, the referee takes a tumble, then Pepe picks up a yellow card. This game has it all!
20.27 – Kaka will have ten minutes to make an impact. The in-form Brazilian is on for Ozil.
20.30 – Messi threads through for Sanchez but the Chilean goes early and is caught offside.
20.32 – Five minutes on the clock, still anyone’s game.
20.37 – Michael Essien, on loan from Chelsea, will gets his first taste of El Clasico. The Ghanaian comes on for Di Maria.
Barca push for the winner and spring several passes together before Montoya rattles the crossbar from 20 yards. Would have been a worthy winner.
Messi bundled over by Arbeloa and becomes the sixth player booked tonight.
20.40 – Full-time: Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid
Pedro skips inside Ronaldo and Pepe but fires off target. And that’s that. What a game of football.
20.43 – Ronaldo’s second to make it 2-2:
YouTube credit: Eme10343
20.55 – Before kick-off, we couldn’t have asked for much more. Top class football at times, entertainment, goals and the world’s two best players showing why they are rated so highly. The gap between the sides remains eight points but Mourinho and Madrid will believe they can claw back most of that deficit before they meet again on March 3.