By Greg Robertson
Barcelona V Real Madrid, April 2012: Video, highlights, as-it-happens commentary… Hello and Welcome to La Liga and Camp Nou for El Clásico, with Barcelona Los Blancos hosting Real Madrid.
Barcelona will be wanting a great performance in front of their home crowd to show form and give hope for the future, with a Leg 2 Champions League encounter on the horizon – one they trail in 1-0 to Chelsea. A performance here by Lionel Messi and the rest of the team will settle plenty of nerves… just a little. Real Madrid are in exactly the same boat. A classic encounter? More than ever!
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LIVE COMMENTARY… FINAL SCORE Barcelona 1 – 2 Real Madrid
93 mins: Nearly another one for Ronaldo.... so close... it's over. REAL MADRID WINS 2-1! Thanks for coming
92 mins: Real Madrid are nearly there and they know it and are slowing down everything.
+ 4 minutes of added time... still time for an equaliser as Messi closes in for a shot but it's cleared - usual thing happens, Messi gets ball, every man, woman, child and dog run at Messi (well, at least 2 or 3 men in white shirts anyway).
87 mins: Ronaldo down now... he may actually be injured though he's trying to wave them away but they refuse to go. How much added time is crucial. Ozil coming off....Callejon on.
85 mins: They're trying hard but the chances just aren't coming for the home side.
82 mins: Real Madrid looking comfortable with this scoreline for sure and Barca realises that they are looking down the barrel... Benzema shoot from the break, which I warned about. Straight at the keeper. He had support either side too.
79 mins: Barcelona streaming forward to try and get the goal back - again - but that opens up the counter attack.
75 mins: Right - here's what happened... Barcelona scored and equalised through Alexis Sanchez after 70 minutes when the ball bounced around like in a pinball machine and it fell to him to finish from just yards out. But Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t done and rounded the edge of the Barcelona defence to get the goal straight back after a lovely through ball sliced Barcelona in half, slamming it past Valdes in goal.
73 mins: Cristiano Ronaldo scores a GOAL! Video up.
70 mins: Goal Barcelona! Alexis Sanchez. Video up.
68 mins: Xavi with a long range effort and was about a foot wide! Thiago ran the ball across him and laid it off. Alexia coming on for Xavi. Video up.
Oh get up... Madrid players going down every five minutes and staying down for stubbing toes and broken nails.
62 mins: Messi works some more magic and searches for Xavi - who leaves it behind him. Oh if he could have dragged it along with him he was in. It's all Barcelona attacking and all Real Madrid in defence. Madrid have eight players in use like this... four-wide about 10-yards inside the touch lines.... and they are separated by another line of four eight yards deeper. It's like a little pocket of air as a buffer from their goal.
58 mins: Barcelona work the opportunity methodically... down the left, square,down the right... suddenly it opens up for Messi and he looks to shoot and the bodies fly in from all angles to block the shot, with success. Barcelona beginning to show their frustration. Barca needs to go to the bench.
54 mins: Tello snatches at another one when he SHOULD HAVE SCORED. He had all the time in the world and he needed a touch. Video up.
52 mins: A little bit of inexperience there by Tello as he's given room on the left. He shoots - slaps a leg at it - when he had four Barca players wanting the ball in the middle..... hold on, Ronaldo rounds Valdes.... oh, he's just offside. Just offside. Video up.
48 mins: Wow, as i said that before about Messi scooting past he does just that, scoots past one player then - and count them - one... two... three... four players... yes, four, swoop on Messi. Shut down by pure numbers. Video up.
46 mins: A big 45 minutes in prospect... and the rain in Spain falling mainly on the Camp Nou... this should suit Barcelona as they always water the ground prior to kick off to help the ball scoot along.
Players coming out onto the pitch now... Barca fans amp up trying to lift their side. Then the jeers... that's for the visitors.
Big question in terms of the standings in La Liga - should Madrid win tonight they'll go seven points clear of Barca with four games to play... the only real tough, touch game Bilbao. Two goals to Barcelona however and we have a 1-point La Liga with four games to play. Tantalising... how exciting is Spanish football!
Well, have Real Madrid watched the Chelsea coverage over and over and found a way to keep the great Messi on a leash? The jury is out on that one - but if they have, the next big question is how will the great one respond? You can just see, as teams think to rush at him and reduce his time, Messi the Marvelous slipping it past and waving as he flies by....
HALFTIME Real Madrid leads 1-0.
44 mins: Ozil with a brilliant dribble down the right on the counter for Madrid, looking for Benzema in the middle but an important interlude by Mascherano. Video up. +1 minute added
41 mins: Barcelona almost trying to walk it into the net and it nearly worked with Messi half a yard away from equalising. Video up.
40 mins: Barcelona now has Real Madrid squeezed to the back... three attacks, all very similar, using Messi to distribute and trying to deliver early from out wide. All had the same result and smashed into players.
Before today Barcelona had scored 64 goals at Camp Nou and conceded only eight.
37 mins: Thiago is well wide with the shot from just outside the area but the movement that started from Valdes was just delightful and all Benzema at the front, to Alonso, and back to Ramos could do was watch and nod and say, 'Yep, that's what you call football'.
35 mins: Barcelona very clever as their backs pull right back to open up the space in front of them - and Messi. A sweeping movement was the result of that space but the final delivery from the left is too long.
32 mins: Messi finds half a yard on the edge of the box, spins on a dime and is five steps ahead of Xavi with the ball... but Xavi goes the wrong way.
26 mins: Barcelona now have had 71% of the possession... not quite the service to Messi that he or the fans want at the moment though. That final ball.... oh how did Xavi miss? Messi was brilliant, and became the deliver, flies went to Messi and he played through Xavi. Casillas advanced and Xavi's shot got a touch on the spreading goalkeeper and it slid past the post. Great vision from Messi. Video up.
22 mins: Alves and Messi combining well but they fly at Messi from everywhere. Madrid smash it upfield, anywhere.
20 mins: Ronadlo ambitious, shooting from nearly the corner flag.
16 mins: Turbo charged atmosphere surrounds this game. REAL MADRID score! GOAL! Video up. Pepe rose to head down a corner and there was a scramble in the box. Khedira forced it in.
13 mins: GOAL! Barcelona.... no, no goal. NO GOAL! The flag has gone up. Video up. That was Tello who cut in and shot with Casillas saving.... the ball was tucked away but the whistle had gone.
11 mins: Ronaldo away down the left and he searches for Benzema in the centre but back tracking are the Barcelona backs... two plays later, Benzema cuts onto his right foot and scoots it along the surface. Valdes down to it quickly. Video up.
9 mins: Barcelona just trying to work their way into this one after an electric start... white shirts hustling, attacking the ball and shortening any time on the ball for the Barca players.
6 mins: Alves is through on goal but Casillas is out so quick and smothers it at Alves' feet. Video up.
3 mins: Ohhh Ronaldo up like a salmon and he nudges it to the back post and Valdes has to make sure it doesn't dip under. Video up. Fever pitch atmosphere.
Here are your teams...
Real Madrid: Casillas, Coentrao, Ramos, Pepe, Arbeloa, Khedira, Alonso, Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria, Benzema.
Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano, Xavi, Busquets, Thiago, Tello, Messi, Iniesta.
Well here we go - what a game we have in prospect ahead of us. Lionel Messi, you can't help but love to watch him and Cristiano Ronaldo, phew, how good is he? One of them, surely, will fire.
Kick off is not far away so in the meantime watch an earlier El Clásico this year in the Copa del Rey – a 2-all Leg 2 draw.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Victor Valdes(gk), Carles Puyol, Girard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodriguez
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Iker Casillas (gk) Marcelo, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, Angel Di Maria, Karim Benzema
Barcelona are seeking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea in the Champions League with victory in El Clásico.
Four points behind Real Madrid in the Spanish title race with five games to go, the Catalan club will entertain Real Madrid at Camp Nou.
The sides have met five times already this season - twice in the Super Cup and twice in the Copa del Rey (Kings Cup), along with one league meeting - and Barcelona have yet to be beaten.
In La Liga on December 10th, Barca won 3-1 at the Bernabeu.
Then in January, Pep Guardiola's men won 2-1 on away soil in the quarter-finals of the Kings Cup, before a 2-2 draw in the second leg took them through.
Madrid are also coming off a loss, as Bayern Munich's 2-1 success gave the German outfit the upper hand in their Champions League semi-final.
But "Los Merengues" have recorded four victories and a draw in their last five league games, scoring 17 goals in the process, giving them plenty of encouragement going into this headline European fixture.
"The analysis is simple. Our only option is to win. If not, there will be another champion this year and we will prepare for next season the way we have done in the last four years. Especially like this year because not long ago we were very much ahead as the leader. And now we are only four points behind them partly because they (Real Madrid) have stumbled a few times when they didn't expect to, and also because we haven't failed lately. So, having been so far behind them and now being so close, it is a luxury,” says Guardiola.
"Fortunately in this game the key players are the ones on the pitch. And evidently what Cristiano Ronaldo (Real forward) and (Lionel) Messi (Barcelona playmaker) have done this year is really outstanding. So we (the coaches) have an influence on our teams, but in the end the players are the ones that decide what goes on. As for the secret of our victories (recently over Real), it is difficult to tell. Basically, I am part of a very strong club that has a very particular idea about sport that, as I have said many times before, it is impossible to betray.
“We must try to find some details to take more control of the game, to imagine in that way you will be better, you will have more chances to create opportunities, to score goals. I think we (both teams) know each other very well. And tomorrow we are going to try to play with the same philosophy. Now is not the time to change many things.
"We are not here to chose (between Spanish League and Champions League) - we play tomorrow and we try to win. The same is true for Tuesday (against Chelsea). And I hope tomorrow we will have a beautiful and intense game and that the best team wins."