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Dublin: 17 °C Thursday 19 April, 2018


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Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid

Hello, and welcome to our liveblog of the first El Clasico of the season.

We’ll have the full team news for you shortly, but we can confirm that Gareth Bale will start for Real Madrid.

This could be the most viewed El Clasico ever, given the early kick-off time. It has a potential audience of 1.2 billion and will likely attract four times as many viewers as the Royal Wedding.

It’s also the most watched football match on the planet apart from the World Cup final.

Read the thoughts of Spanish football expert Sid Lowe ahead of this game here.

You can also read our extensive interview on the history of the Barca-Real rivalry here and the tale of the legendary Irish Barcelona coach here.

Before we start, a quick poll for you – who do you think will win today?

Poll Results:

Here are the teams…

BARCELONA: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Cesc, Neymar.

Subs: Montoya, Puyol, Pedro, Sanchez, Pinto Colorado, Song, Sergi.

REAL MADRID: Diego Lopez, Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Ramos, Khedira, Modric, Bale, Di Maria, Ronaldo.

Subs: Casillas, Fabio Coentrao, Benzema, Arbeloa, Jese, Isco, Illarramendi.

We’re underway…

Barcelona have been the dominant side in the opening stages.

Fabregas’ dangerous shot has just deflected off Neymar and gone out for a goal kick.

Barcelona have been camped in the Real half for the last few minutes.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have looked solid at back so far though.

Nasty tackle from Busquets on Di Maria results in the first yellow card of the game.

It almost undoubtedly won’t be the last booking we see today.

Interestingly, Bale has started this game in the centre, with Ronaldo pushing to the flank. They’ll surely interchange between the two as the game progresses.

In addition, Lionel Messi has been playing on the right more often than not so far.

Another booking as Ramos nudges Neymar to the ground with his shoulder. The Brazilian certainly made the most of that.

Meanwhile, Bale has just hit a pot shot well over the bar.

Real Madrid have been better in the last few minutes.

A deep cross finds the head of Bale, who probably would have been better off hanging it back across goal rather than trying to score himself.


Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid: Clever play from Iniesta to set up Neymar, whose shot from just inside the box takes a slight deflection and finds the corner of the net (19 mins).

Advantage Barca!

Messi almost doubles Barca’s advantage.

He’s played through on goal, and uncharacteristically slots his shot to the wrong side of the post. That could have been game over already!

It’s been a difficult El Clasico debut for Gareth Bale so far.

He’s just given the ball away cheaply and has been fairly anonymous. Real are coming more into the game of late though.

(Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets challenges for the ball with Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria — Emilio Morenatti/AP/Press Association Images)

Another bad challenge from Adriano on Ronaldo.

The Barca man receives the third booking of the game, which hasn’t been too bad tempered yet, despite the odd mistimed tackle.

Messi plays a dangerous through ball, and Neymar initially seems to be impeded, but the referee waves play on.

Replays reveal that the Brazilian, not the for the first time, made the most of the challenge on him.

Great save from Victor Valdes, as Real go close.

Ronaldo’s cross finds Khedira, and the Barca goalkeeper does well to keep out the German player’s close-range attempt.

There were also shouts for a penalty, as the ball deflected onto a prone Barca player’s hand, but the referee correctly deems it unintentional.


It’s certainly a game that’s lived up to the billing so far.

Neymar gave Barca a deserved lead in the opening 20 minutes, but Real gradually came more into the game as the half progressed, and looked the more likely side to score ultimately.

Gareth Bale has had a relatively quiet game and was booked just before the break for a high tackle.

The second half is underway…

A fight threatens to break out following a challenge by Sergio Ramos, but it’s handbags really.

The crowd were calling for the Spanish player to be sent off, as he’s already on a booking.

Great long pass from Mascherano to find Neymar.

The Brazilian connects well with the ball, hitting it first time, but it’s straight at the goalkeeper. You get the feeling that a second goal would probably be good enough to make the game safe for Barca.

Iniesta loses the ball in a dangerous area.

Modric then plays through Ronaldo, but his powerful shot is well parried away by Valdes.

Gareth Bale’s disappointing El Clasico debut comes to an end. Karim Benzema takes the Welshman’s place.

Meanwhile, Neymar is played through on goal, but Varane makes a superb recovery tackle to prevent him from getting a shot on goal.

Wonderful through ball by Modric plays through Di Maria. However, the Argentinian striker’s touch is too heavy and the ball eludes him.

I’m not sure how this game is still 0-0.

Real Madrid are the better side at the moment. They’re constantly probing in attack.

That said, Barca have looked dangerous on the counter attack as well.

Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez has just replaced Cesc Fabregas.

Ronaldo is in disbelief after being denied what looked a stonewall penalty. He was through on goal, before being nudged over by the Barca defender, yet the referee fails to blow his whistle.

Seconds later, Benzema hits the cross bar with a powerful strike from just outside the box.

Real are well on top at the moment.


Barcelona 2-0 Real Madrid: WHAT. A. GOAL. Alexis Sanchez has scored an absolutely beauty (79 mins).

He is played through and turns past Varane, before chipping the ball over Lopez and into the net.

Ronaldo is still complaining to the referee about failing to award that penalty earlier and he’s booked as a result.

The commentator rather ill-advisedly says Ronaldo is “like Mussolini at the balcony”.

Neymar is substituted to a hero’s reception.

There seems no way back for Real now, as Barca look well capable of adding a third.

Gareth Bale looks less than thrilled as he watches proceedings from the bench.

Khedira is played through and his shot is saved comfortably by Valdes.

Ronaldo was better positioned and he’s raging at his teammate’s failure to pass him the ball.

Real Madrid have been a little unlucky today.

On another day, they could have escaped with a draw at the very least.

(Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal reacts to the ref’s decision to deny him a penalty – Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images)


Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona: Jese gets one back for Madrid, putting a slightly more accurate reflection on the scoreline in the process (90 mins).

Ronaldo makes a good run down the left, and finds the youngster with his pass. Valdes can only parry his subsequent pass into the net.


Right that’s it from me. Don’t forget to check out our other two liveblogs that are currently running, and can be found here and here.

Thanks for reading and commenting, and stay tuned for more reaction from tonight’s game.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy