Somehow Messi volleys wide from close range after navas has an absolute flap at a corner and that’s half time.
Everybody back round the referee.
We’ll have another two minutes added, and it’s Barcelona looking to make the most of it as Messi piles forward.
Casemiro fouls him, fairly cynically, and he’s on a booking, which means the entire population of Catalonia is around
the referee demanding a red card. Pretty lucky to escape without one, however unedifying the crowd scene is.
32 mins GOAL!!!!!!! Real Madrid 1 BARCELONA 1
That didn’t last long. Messi glides into the penalty area and rolls in the equaliser. Now the top scorer in this fixture’s
history, one ahead of Di Stefano.
It’s a beautiful goal, flowing football, hot knife through butter stuff, and Messi’s control and finish was absolutely
perfect. First goal in six meetings with Real.
27 mins GOAL!!!!! REAL MADRID 1 Barcelona 0
Casemiro scores from close range and Real are, deservedly, in front.
A cleared corner is lofted back into the far post. There’s a queue of Real Madrid players standing offside but the
assistant decides, quite possibly incorrectly, that Ramos is not one of them. He hits the inside of the post but the ball
rolls plum for Casemiro to score into an empty net from close range.
Right, well at one end Ronaldo is shooting low and Ter Stegen produces the best save of the game.
But, at the other, Messi is down and, literally, picking his teeth out of the grass. Blood flowing. Marcelo, replays
suggest, has caught him flush in the gob with a flying elbow – unusually for this fixture it does look like a genuine
Physio frantically stuffing cotton wool into Messi’s face.
And so it begins. Ronaldo is the first to hit the deck and turn to the referee. Real Madrid want a penalty, officials say
no. Replay pending…
Could easily have been a spot kick. Umtiti, on El Classico debut, hung a leg out, got none of the ball, clipped Ronaldo.
As we’ve come to expect in this fixture, he did hit the deck very easily though. Our referee this evening is the rather
splendidly named Alejandro José Hernández Hernández.
Odd Messi stats
Just the 45 goals in 45 games for Lionel Messi this season – similar record to Alvaro Negredo at Middlesbrough –
but his El Classico record isn’t that brilliant of late.
No goals in six meetings and he’s only scored in two of the last dozen games between the two sides – albeit he did
bag a hat trick in one of the other two.
Madrid are hunting a La Liga and Champions League double for the first time since the Di Stefano side of the 1950s
– 1958 to be precise.
They go into tonight’s match three points ahead of Barcelona with a game in hand. Barcelona have a far better goal
difference, and if they win tonight they’ll also have a better head to head record which is how tied teams are
separated at the end of the season.
There are five league games to go, and Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has already confirmed he’ll be leaving in the
summer. They’re in wobbly form – two defeats and a draw in the last four. Real haven’t lost in a dozen games in all
Bale is back
Headlines for Real Madrid include the return after a two match injury absence for Wales winger Gareth Bale who
starts up front with Benzema and some other bloke.
Real: Navas; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, nacho; Kroos, Modric, Casemiro; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Subs: Casilla, James, Kovacic, Asensio, Morata, Isco, Danilo
Teams are in
The big talking point all week has been whether Neymar would be allowed to play. His red card in the defeat at
Malaga (to go with the 15 yellow cards he’s had this season) resulted in a one match ban, extended to three for
sarcastically applauding the officials on the way off. Barcelona tried to take their appeal all the way to the Court of
Appeal for Sport this weekend but have admitted defeat and he is not playing.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Alcacer
Subs: Cillessen, Denis, Arda, Mascherano, Digne, Gomes, Alena
What is it?
When is it?
It’s on Sunday April 23.
What time is kick-off?
This one starts at 7.45pm BST.
What TV channel is it on?
Sky have the rights to La Liga and will be showing this clash on Sky Sports 1 and HD, with coverage beginning at
7pm. Alternatively, you can follow all the action right here with goal updates and analysis.
What is the team news?
Madrid will be without defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane for the game, while Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos and
Gareth Bale all have question marks over their fitness heading into the weekend.
Barcelona will be without Neymar, who was suspended three games after sarcastically applauding an assistant
referee in the loss to Malaga in the league two weeks ago. Full team news to be confirmed.
What are they saying?
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane on Cristiano Ronaldo:
“I don’t know if there’s a category for him. What you see Cristiano doing is really impressive.
The goals, the way he finishes them, in such key, important moments,” said Zidane of the No. 7.
“He always knows when there’s an important occasion, he’s going to be there.
It is out of any sort of category.
There are few players who can to do what Ronaldo has done and we all know that.”
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique:
“It will be difficult to lift my players up after this, but it will be easy to motivate them.
We have the best stimulus that any Barcelona fan could ask for which is that we play against our eternal rival.
There’s no better place to go than the Bernabeu.
“We have the chance to get back in the fight for La Liga in a six-pointer against the side top of the league.
I love being involved at a club as ambitious as this.”