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Barcelona 3 Real 1

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Half Time – Real 1 Barcelona 1

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.

 

 

45 mins

 

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.

 

42 mins

 

Real, shuffling into more of 4-4-2 set up following the change, on the back foot again as Suarez crosses to the back

post and Jordi Alba shoots wide.

 

 

40 mins – So Close

 

Messi shoots an inch wide via a deflection. No corner, and Messi has his mouth full so can only do the Team America

secret signal towards the referee by way of protest. Goal kick.

 

 

38 mins Booking, and Bale off

 

Umtiti has put what Ron Atkinson might have called “a reducer” on Ronaldo and been booked. Bale has limped off

but it’s Asensio on to replace him rather than Isco.

 

36 mins

 

Ah. Has anybody got Isco’s number? Bale, passed fit after two games out, now parked on the turf clutching the ankle

again. Gives us a chance to look at the Real goal again and, hat tip lino, Ramos was just about the only Madrid player

who was onside.

 

34 mins

Real’s turn to have a little wobble. Twice in quick succession they’re caught playing out from the back with a slack

pass – twice Suarez wastes the chance. Perhaps this long range Modric shot, turned aside firmly by Ter Stegen, will

settle them back down.

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.

 

31 mins

 

Messi, mouth full of tissue paper, dumped to the turf again. Barcelona free kick and we’re back in open play.

 

 

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.

 

 

27 mins

 

Pique under Bale, concedes a corner, appeals for calm in full on Harry Enfield style.

 

 

25 mins

 

Benzema’s sluggish start to this game continues as he wastes a two on two situation with a slack touch after receiving

 

a pass from Ronaldo who was up in support. Ronaldo will be fine with this I’m sure, not a problem.

 

 

23 mins

 

Messi is back, looking like an advert for toilet tissue. Ronaldo turns and curls a shot over.

 

Ronaldo
Ronaldo shoots over

 

19 mins

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

accident.

 

Physio frantically stuffing cotton wool into Messi’s face.

Messi
My face, my valuable face

 

18 mins

Flying from one end to the other now. Proper football. Benzema at one end, played in after great work by Modric,

shoots at Ter Stegen. Immediately Barcelona respond, Suarez shoots wide.

16 mins

Ronaldo mighty close to threading Benzema through into the area but Barcelona mass ranks and break themselves with Messi gliding past three players before also, just, getting his final ball wrong.

Messi
Messi gets into his stride

 

11 mins Yellow card

Less than ideal early booking for Casemiro. A long 79 minutes trying to crowd Messi and Suarez’s space while

simultaneously walking what we lazy sports hacks who’ve had a long weekend like to call the disciplinary

tightrope lies in store. /cliche

9 mins Barcelona settling down

Having successfully ridden that fast start from Real without shipping a goal Barcelona are now starting to move the

ball around and retain possession. Suarez shoots wide of the far post from the edge of the area – 32 goals this season

but none in his last four.

Suarez goes close

2016-2017_Partit_Futbol_1r_equip_01_20160820_40

5 mins

Kroos sets Ronaldo away down the right, men up in support but he was only ever going to cut in and shoot from the edge of the box and he drills it straight at the keeper.

3 mins

Carvajal round the back to the byline, cuts it back, Barcelona survive. Madrid starting fast and dominating.

 

1 min

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.

 

Ronaldo
Penalty appeal 1/356

 

Kick Off

Masters champion Sergio Garcia takes to the field, big hug for Ramos, leathers the ball into the stand, and we’re

ready to go.

Brace

Teams are out, going through the handshake rigmarole. We’re nearly ready for the start of the second biggest game

in Europe this weekend, following Grimsby Town’s big 4-1 win against Yeovil yesterday.

Zidane
Best of enemies

 

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.

Messi
Is tonight the night for Messi?

 

History makers

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

comps.

Isco benched

Bale’s return is bad/great news for Isco who drops down to the bench to accommodate him.

 

Isco was a Barcelona fan as a youngster, has a dog called Messi, and has been linked with a move to the Nou Camp

this summer. Might be one worth sitting out.

 

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

Gareth Bale
Guess who’s back

 

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.

So…

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Alcacer

 

Subs: Cillessen, Denis, Arda, Mascherano, Digne, Gomes, Alena

Neymar
Bad lad

 

Welcome

Well hello everybody and welcome along to our live blog of tonight’s 234th El Classico, league leaders Real Madrid hosting chasers Barcelona. Kick off is 19.45.

Big-match preview

What is it?

It’s Real Madrid vs Barcelona and, if that’s not enticing enough, a clash that could go a long way to deciding this season’s La Liga title.

 

 

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?

Real Madrid

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:

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.”

Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid and Luis Enrique of Barcelona in action
Different times for Zidane and Enrique, pictured here playing against each other in 2002 CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

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.”

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