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April 21, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
• Attendance: 99252
Congratulations to @mosesngwanah, who was the only person before the game who predicted the correct result! Well done, and a virtual high five is on its way to you as I type this. Thank you everyone for joining me for Goal.com's LIVE commentary of this match this evening! Good night.
Mourinho will be delighted to have notched his second El Clasico victory in eleven attempts, and his side will go into their Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu on Wednesday confident of overturning the Germans' 2-1 lead following their brilliant performance tonight. Barcelona meanwhile, welcome Chelsea on Tuesday, with a definite point to prove after two defeats on the bounce.
What a game! And what a performance from Real Madrid! They now need just six points from their last four games to be crowned champions of La Liga, following this fine victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou toinght. A rare Sami Khedira goal gave Madrid a half-time lead, but it looked as if Barcelona were right back in it when lexis Sanchez equalised just seconds after coming on as a substitute in the 70th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo then stepped up and proved the difference, restoring Madrid's lead with a brilliantly taken goal just minutes after Sanchez's equaliser. Madrid then defended well to see out the win, as Barcelona struggled to break down their resolute backline after going behind for the second time.
FULL-TIME: Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo is the hero tonight as his second-half strike helps Real Madrid do the unthinkable, beating Barcelona in their own back yard. Barcelona have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2009, while this victory takes Mourinho's Real Madrid side SEVEN points clear at the top of La Liga, with just four games left to play.
90' + 4'
The referee blows the final whistle to end what has been a thrilling game.
90' + 4'
Just seconds left on the clock here...
90' + 4'
Ronaldo's eventual free-kick is wild though, and miles away from troubling Valdes in the Barcelona goal.
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
Clever play from the two Madrid substitutes Granero and Callejon as they keep possession of the ball on the edge of the Barcelona penalty area. The latter draws a free-kick, and Madrid have another chance to run the clock down as Karim Benzema leaves the pitch to be replaced by Gonzalo HIguain.
90' + 1'
Ramos is down inside his own area as Barcelona lift a corner into the box. He's been caught by his own team-mate Arbeloa there, and is perhaps fortunate to be awarded a free-kick by the referee!
There are going to be four minutes of added time here...
Ronaldo is on the ball once more, but sensibly plays the ball back to Alonso as Madrid retain possession well going into these final few minutes.
That corner is Mesut Ozil's last contribution to the game as he replaced by Jose Callejon.
Ramos curls it in to the box but is headed over by Puyol for a corner, which is then gathered well by Valdes. Madrid soon win the ball back though, and win another corner, this time after good work from the substitute Esteban Granero.
Ronaldo is chopped down by Mascherano deep in Barcelona's half and Madrid have a free-kick, and perhaps more importantly for them, a chance to waste a few more precious seconds.
Yellow Card Javier Mascherano
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 54 games at Camp Nou and have won their last 11 games in a row at home. It looks like that run might be coming to an abrupt and painful end...
Mascherano lets rip from fully 35 yards but his effort flies a yard or so over Casillas' bar. He put everything behind that one! Madrid's keeper will be grateful it wasn't on target!
Real Madrid quickly steal possession back and look to counter once more, as they have so effectively this evening. Benzema strides into the Barcelona half with the ball, and carries it right to the edge of the area before striking a firm effort towards the top left corner. Valdes is equal to it however, and palms the ball down before kicking it back upfield.
Alexis Sanchez is hacked down in full stride by Sergio Ramos, and Barcelona have another free-kick in Real Madrid's half.
Fabregas comes on for the home side as Guardiola goes for broke here. Can the former Arsenal man make an impact with just ten minutes to go? Barcelona's title ambitions are hanging by a thread here.
Yellow Card Esteban Granero
Messi wins a free-kick for Barcelona 30 yards out. He chips the ball into the box but it is headed clear. Sanchez looks to attack Coentrao on the right but the left-back puts in a fine tackle to put the ball out for a corner. Great play from Coentrao there, he's gone some way towards redemption for his late error against Bayern Munich earlier in the week with a confident performance tonight.
The referee pulls the play back for dangerous play as Ronaldo attempts an acrobatic attempt from the cross from Ozil.
Yellow Card Mesut Özil
Corner to Madrid...
What a couple of minutes that was! There was barely time to take breath between Sanchez's equaliser for Barcelona, and Ronaldo's fine finish that restored Madrid's lead. This is end-to-end stuff between La Liga's top two sides!
Ángel Di María
Assist Mesut Özil
Goal C. Ronaldo
WHAT A RESPONSE FROM MADRID!!! 2-1 TO THE VISITORS!! Mesut Ozil carves Barcelona's defence wide open with a pass to Cristiano Ronaldo. The mercurial Madrid man then takes a touch to push the ball wide of Valdes before clipping a fine finish into the back of the net. The advantage back with Madrid!
Goal Alexis Sánchez
GOAALLLLLLL!!!! BARCELONA HAVE EQUALISED!!! And it's the substitute Alexis Sanchez that has scored the goal, just seconds after coming on! Lionel Messi dances past some challenges before first Tello, then Iniesta have shots blocked. The ball finally reaches Alexis Sanchez inside the area, his initial shot is saved but he then bundles the ball home at the second time of asking. It is all even here at Camp Nou!
XAVI SHOOTS WIDE!!! The Barca midfielder flashes an effort inches wide of Casillas' right-hand post after being given a yard of space 25 yards from goal.
Barcelona swing in a corner, as Coentrao is helped off the pitch, but the home side fail to make their numerical advantage count as the set piece is cleared with an acrobatic over-head kick by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fabio Coentrao is down on the turf after heading the ball out of play. That is a strange injury. I'm not sure what is wrong with the Portuguese left-back there.
Barcelona still haven't changed any personnel, but you can't imagine Guardiola will leave it much longer before bringing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez on as they chase this game.
Madrid are slowing the game down whenever they can now. Ramos goes down, and stays down, after being brushed to the floor by Messi.
Messi is flagged offside, and he is JUST off, caught out by Madrid's high defensive line. It has worked well for Mourinho's men so far tonight!
The thigh of Pepe blocks Messi's shot from 25 yards as Barcelona look to their talisman more and more as this game goes on.
CLASSIC PEPE!!! Messi nudges the Madrid defender and he is down writhing around on the floor in mock agony for half a minute or so before getting to his feet and being fine to continue. I honestly don't think there is anyone quite like Pepe for that kind of behaviour. Outrageous!
Madrid are working hard to press Guardiola's men at the moment, but they are not seeing much of the ball as the home side continue to dominate possession.
TELLO, TELLO, TELLO!!! That should have been the youngster's eighth goal of the season!!! Thiago plays him in beautifully with a defence-splitting pass and Tello looks to hit it first time with his right foot, his effort is wayward to say the least though, and is not even close to troubling Casillas. A chance wasted there for Barcelona!
RONALDO SCORES!!!! OH NO, HANG ON, HE'S OFFSIDE... I think he knew that too! The whistle had clearly gone when the enigmatic attacker dribbled round Valdes and passed the ball into the empty net. He feigns ignorance though... with a smile on his face!
Tello's touch has let him down on a couple of occasions tonight, this time he chooses to lash an effort towards goal from a tight angle when he should really look to cross the ball to a team-mate. His effort is a long way off target, and is met by some disdainful glances from Iniesta and Messi.
Barcelona's performance in the first half was quite similar to their match against Chelsea during the week. They dominated possession, but failed to score. In the opening 45 minutes tonight they had 78% possession but no shots on target!
That free-kick is swept up by Coentrao though, and Madrid have the chance to build their play from the back.
Yellow Card Xabi Alonso
GREAT TACKLE FROM ALONSO!! However, the ref has other ideas and gives a free kick. Alonso dispossessed Messi superbly and fairly there. Strange refereeing...
We are back under way at Camp Nou...
4. Madrid's midfield are working their socks off and doing a brilliant job at limiting Xavi's influence so far.
3. It may sound stupidly obvious, but Barcelona need Messi to see more of the ball. He sparkled in patches during that first half.
2. Xavi SHOULD have scored when he was played in by Messi and shot wide.
1. Valdes and Puyol should really have done better when Khedira scored.
Having seen a couple of replays during half-time, here are my observations from the first half.
@tweetsfromanush has just sent me a tweet with a fantastic analogy: "Real are the horse, they are smelling their stable and it is almost impossible now to stop them #halamadrid". Absolutely love that!
Bare in mind guys, the last time Real Madrid took the lead in a league game at Camp Nou, they went on to win. That was back in 2007, when Julio Baptista scored the only goal in a 1-0 win as they outmuscled and outplayed their Catalan opponents. History could be set to repeat itself tonight...
@pkhackman has been in touch on Twitter to say: "I'm a die-hard Madridista but I see FCB rallying from behind to win yet again". That's quite a surprising admission from a Madrid fan. What do the rest of you think, will Barcelona turn this round in the second half?
HALF-TIME: Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid. The away side have the lead here at Camp Nou, with their goal coming from one of the most unlikely of sources. Sami Khedira scores only his sixth goal for Madrid, poking home from close range after some fairly haphazard defending from Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol. Barcelona haven't really got into their stride yet, as Madrid have pressured their opponents at every opportunity in this opening half. Guardiola's got to change something out there. Let me know what you think he should do by sending your thoughts to @charliefscott.
45' + 1'
The referee blows the whistle to mark the end of this half. Advantage to Madrid so far!
We've got some more input from our man at the ground Martin del Palacio Langer. "Out of the blue, it starts downpouring! Rain all over the place as Barça pushes forward for an equaliser."
Great challenge from Mascherano on Ozil!! The Barcelona defender stands his ground on the edge of the box before putting in a firm but fair challenge on the German midfielder as Madrid try and score a second before half-time!
The rain is pouring down on the pitch at Camp Nou as we head into the final few minutes of this first half.
Yellow Card Pepe
A shoulder charge from Pepe on Sergio Busquets results in a yellow card for the Madrid defender. That was a cynical challenge! Who would have thought, Pepe and Busquets go into the referee's book in this first half...
The flag is up against Messi, after Barcelona again threaten to break into the penalty area. Another tight call from the linesman.
Arbeloa again shields the ball well, this time from Cristian Tello. The Barcelona attacker appeared to run out of pitch there as he looked to beat his marker for pace.
Barcelona work the ball nicely on the edge of Madrid's penalty area, but that final ball is still lacking, as they are limited to a long-distance effort from Thiago on this occasion, an effort that flies harmlessly wide of Casillas' goal.
Hats off to the two sides for really going for this one, despite this match being sandwiched between their respective Champions League semi-final matches. But then again, this match could well decide who is crowned champions of La Liga, so I suppose they couldn't really afford to do anything other than come flying out of the blocks in the first half!
Arbeloa does exactly what he needs to do in the right-back position as Iniesta looks to play the ball one side of the defender and run round the other. The full-back shields the ball from Iniesta brilliantly though, eventually drawing a foul from the Barcelona midfielder. Fine defending from the former Liverpool man.
Iniesta shifts the ball to Messi 20 yards from goal, but the Argentine surrenders the ball cheaply by passing the ball out of play a good six yards behind the run of his team-mate Dani Alves.
Ronaldo rinses Puyol for pace on the left, before cutting onto his favoured right foot and lashing an effort high and wide of Valdes' goal. He will disappointed with himself at that finish!
Tello miscontrols a fantastic pass from Xavi on the left, as Barcelona really begin to carve open Madrid's backline. The away side are always dangerous on the break though, and continue to move the ball quickly upfield to Ronaldo and Benzema when they do gain possession.
That Xavi chance reflects the balance of play in these last few minutes as Barcelona have settled down and begun to play some fine football, most of it, like that pass to Xavi, coming from Lionel Messi.
Angel Di Maria wastes a good opportunity for Madrid on the right with a poor pass inside to Benzema that is intercepted by Busquets. Barcelona look to break immediately and very nearly equalise through Xavi after an exquisite pass from Lionel Messi. The midfielder drags his effort just wide!!
Xabi Alonso flies in to a challenge on Alves, but looks to have won the ball but the Brazilian has made the most of that one, make no mistake! Not even sure that was a foul to be honest...
Both the managers are on their feet on the sideline, with Guardiola looking fairly agitated at his side's start to the game. They will certainly be experiencing opposite emotions right now!!
Barcelona look to attack through Alves again on the right, but Coentrao does well to push him inside and the ball is eventually picked up and cleared by Ramos. The home side look a bit shell-shocked here.
Is Jose Mourinho set to record only his second victory over Barcelona since joining Madrid in 2010?? So far he has won just once in ten games. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter, @charliefscott.
Our man at the game Martin del Palacio Langer has a few words for us. "The stadium wasn't muted by Madrid's goal but certainly it was a shock for the fans. It's not the first time that Madrid goes ahead in a Clásico here though and the fans are trying to cheer their team on."
Goal Sami Khedira
GOALLL TO MADRID!!!!!! 1-0 TO THE VISITORS!!! And I don't think many of you would have predicted this man for first goalscorer! Sami Khedira has broken the deadlock at Camp Nou with a close range finish after Valdes palmed Pepe's header from the corner straight into his path. Puyol had a chance to clear the ball there, and really should have. Adavantage to Madrid!
Corner to Madrid...
Yellow Card Busquets
YELLOW CARD FOR BUSQUETS!!! Ronaldo shows a brilliant turn of pace to show the Barcelona midfielder a clean set of heels, but Busquets has already committed to the challenge and catches the Portuguese attacker as he looks to race free down the left.
MARVELLOUS PLAY FROM TELLO!!! The youngster shows some fabulous footwork to evade the challenges of Arbeloa and Pepe before firing an effort goalwards that Casillas does well to save. Tello looks to have the better of Arbeloa over on that left-hand side.
Barc try and take a quick free-kick to play Alves in after Sergio Ramos catches Xavi in what looked a fair challenge. The referee pulls play back though, and Barcelona take the set piece again. Messi's cross fails to clear the Madrid wall though and is headed to safety.
It has been a very open start to the game. Madrid are really going for this one, not something you would necessarily expect them to do under Jose Mourinho.
Karim Benzema times his run well on the right to stay onside as Sergio Busquets plays him onside. The Frenchman cuts onto his left foot before firing a low effort towards the bottom corner from 20 yards that Valdes does well to parry and then gather.
It's taken nine minutes before we have got our first glimpse of those theatrics that many have come to associate with these two sides. Sergio Ramos flying to the turf after a fairly innocuous challenge from Alves.
Alves is flagged offside after latching on to a well-weighted Thiago throughball. It's the correct decision from the linesman, but it was tight! Madrid are playing a very high defensive line as the look to squeeze Barcelona high up the pitch.
CASILLAS HAD TO GET THAT RIGHT. That was really really good play from the Madrid keeper to stop Alves in his tracks there.
TREMENDOUS GOALKEEPING FROM CASILLAS!!!! Dani Alves intercepts an awful pass from Pepe to Coentrao but his touch is heavy and Iker Casillas is off his line like lightning to block the Brazilian and push the ball out for a throw. Very alert goalkeeping from the Spain international!
A very encouraging start from Madrid, Barcelona are yet to settle in their own back yard.
GREAT SAVE FROM VALDES!!! A combination header from Ronaldo for Madrid and Puyol for Barcelona sends the ball towards the top corner but Victor Valdes is alert to the danger and does well to shift his body and tip the ball over the bar.
Ronaldo bursts down the left wing, and looks to chop the ball past Puyol but the defender reads the move and blocks the ball out for a corner to Madrid.
A hopeful ball over the top of the Real Madrid defence is shepherded out of play well by Fabio Coentrao in the left-back position. It's a goal-kick to the away side.
Barcelona win a free-kick in the centre circle after a foul on Xavi.
Some very cool defending from Carles Puyol stops Madrid in their tracks as Ronaldo and Benzema look to exchange passes on the edge of the Barcelona penalty area. Calm as you like there from the Barcelona captain.
Here we go people, we are off!!
The teams are out on the pitch at Camp Nou, and we are just minutes away from kick-off!!
Don't forget guys, you can get in touch with me on Twitter tonight @charliefscott. I would love to hear your thoughts throughout the game, so to get things started, send me your predictions for the score tonight. If anyone gets it right, I'll mention them after the final whistle, and send them a virtual high five.
Alongside that appearance record, should Xavi get on the scoresheet tonight he would move ahead of Johan Cruyff's tally of 47 league goals for the club.
There are a few individual milestones being reached tonight, as Xabi Alonso makes his 100th La Liga appearance for Real Madrid, and Xavi breaks the all-time appearance record in Clasico fixtures as he plays for the 32nd time. Congratulations to both of them!
Fabio Coentrao is preferred to Marcelo at left-back for Madrid, while Angel Di Maria is given a chance to impress alongside Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Karim Benzema alone in attack.
There are a couple of changes for Barcelona tonight as Andres Iniesta starts in an advanced role in the absence of Alexis Sanchez, while youngster Cristian Tello begins in attack alongside Lionel Messi. Both Pique and Cesc Fabregas are named on the bench by Guardiola.
Subs: Adan, Albiol, Marcelo, Granero, Callejon Kaka, Higuain
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria; Benzema
Subs: Pinto, Pique, Montoya, Keita, Cesc, Pedro, Alexis
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Thiago; Tello, Messi, Iniesta
Here are the starting line-ups:
In the corresponding La Liga fixture at the Bernabeu earlier on in the season Karim Benzema gave Madrid the lead after just 23 seconds following a rare Victor Valdes error. Guardiola's side demonstrated their resolve that night by bouncing back from that early goal to emerge eventual 3-1 victors courtesy of goals from Alexis Sanchez, Xavi, and Cesc Fabregas.
400 million people are expected to tune in to watch the match on their televisions tonight, and with 780 media professionals, from 31 different countries, it is fair to say that tonight, the world's eyes are on Camp Nou. Oh, and apparently 85 private jets, from countries like France, Russia, UK, Ukraine and Qatar, flew in to Barcelona ahead of tonight's game.
Jose Mourinho has faced Barcelona 10 times as manager from Madrid from Inter Milan in 2010, and has won just once, in extra time of the Copa del Rey final last season. Guardiola on the other hand has a fine record in this fixture, having won nine, drawn four and lost only once in the fourteen matches he has been charge against Madrid.
So far there have been 163 La Liga El Clasico’s, with Madrid holding the upper hand with 68 wins to Barcelona’s 64.
As both sides hurtle towards the end of their season's just four points separates them at the top of La Liga, making this match a must-win for both sides. Before the game gets underway, here is a bit of background on tonight's game for you all to enjoy!
Good evening ladies and gentleman, my name is Charlie Scott, and I wish you a warm welcome to Goal.com's coverage of what is bound to be an absolute corker of a game at Camp Nou. Barcelona against Real Madrid. 2nd versus 1st in La Liga. 81 points to 85 points. Things do not get much bigger than this in world football people...
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