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As it happened: Real Madrid v Barcelona, Copa Del Rey quarter-final
Pep Guardiola’s side visited the Bernabeu in tonight’s first leg. Check out how it went in our minute-by-minute report here…

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Final score: Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 2

Good evening folks, our liveblogging tonight focuses on Spain, where two Copa Del Rey quarter-final first legs take place.

In San Mames, Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao are one goal up thanks to Fernando Llorente with an hour gone. But enough about that… it’s the meeting of La Liga’s two superpowers that concerns us.

It’s just 45 minutes until kick-off at the Santiago Bernabeu, so team lineups should be along shortly.

Last time the side’s met in this competition, a Cristiano Ronaldo header in extra-time proved enough to ensure the cup went Madrid’s way. Jose Mourinho’s side lead Barca by five points in the league and although the Special One has said he is focusing on wrestling back the Primera Liga, games between these two are rarely uneventful.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Altintop, Carvalho,  Ramos, Marcelo, Pepe, Alonso, Coentrao, Diarra,  Ronaldo, Benzema. Subs:  Sahin, Ozil, Kaka, Granero, Adan, Callejon, Albiol, Varane Higuain, Di Maria, Mejias.

Barcelona: Pinto, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Messi, Sanchez. Subs: Valdes, Thiago, Mascherano, Adriano, J Dos Santos, Sergi Roverto, Cuenca.

Back in December, Karim Benzema took just 22 seconds to fire the home side ahead, although goals from Alexi Sanchez, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas gave the Catalan giants a 3-1 win at tonight’s venue.

The French striker starts tonight and is 6/1 to be first goalscorer. Ronaldo is 4/1, Jose Callejon is 9/1 while you can get Messi at 4/1, Fabregas at 7/1 and Alexi is the same price.

It’s a rare start in the Madrid side for Turkish international Hamit Altintop. The 28-year-old signed from Bayern Munich last year and will always be remembered for this volley he scored against Kazakhstan. It won the 2010 FIFA Puskas Award for Goal of the Year. My word.

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Pep Guardiola on tonight’s game:

“Going to the Bernabeu we must be wise to get through. The only way to get a result and have the tie alive is to go to win the game.

Madrid are the strongest opponents that we can find. Against Madrid you cannot feel a favourite.”

And we’re underway…

No real scoring chances in the opening ten minutes of the game. Barcelona played the first couple in the opposing half but Real Madrid have got stuck in since then.

GOAL! Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 0 (Cristiano Ronaldo)

Karim Benzema plays Ronaldo through at the halfway line with a wonderful ball. He skips by his former team-mate Gerard Pique with a stepover and shoots through the legs of Jose Pinto.

Andres Iniesta forces a corner out of Iker Casillas. The midfielder cuts in from the left and strikes low but his Spanish team-mate gets down to cover. The subsequent corner is cleared.

Another chance for Barcelona. Casillas can only watch on as Alexi Sanchez hits the woodwork with his looping header from a Cesc Fabregas cross.

Pepe is then the first man into the referee’s book for a challenge on Sergio Busquets.

Pepe’s now on the receiving end of an aerial challenge from Pique. Doesn’t look malicious at all to be fair but the Barcelona defender is handed a yellow card nevertheless.

Ronaldo has shown an excellent work ethic during these opening 25 minutes. Dispossesses Alves and very nearly puts Benzema through but the pass is cut out by Eric Abidal.

First glimpses of Messi in action down the other end as Casillas palms his low strike away.

Super play by Barca. Xavi into the feet of Sanchez, who lays off to Iniesta with a first-time pass. The 27-year-old looks to steady himself but is a good 4ft wide with his effort. You’d expect more from the World Cup final goalscorer.

Smashing ball in from Fabregas reaches Sanchez at the back stick but an offside decision is called on Leo Messi. While we’re waiting for play to return, replays show Casillas with a Superman-like clearance from a couple of minutes ago.

The visitors are probing for an equaliser as the seconds tick down to half-time. They’re not getting much joy through the middle as Pepe and Lassana Diarra are working hard to close them down while Ronaldo and Coentrao are keeping Dani Alves quiet down the left.

HALF-TIME: Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 0

So goal No27 this season for Ronaldo gives Madrid the upper hand going into the second half. Here’s a little chestnut from OptaJose.

Is there such a thing as a good omen when you’re playing against this Barcelona team?

Elsewhere, Championship side have beaten Wolves in their FA Cup third round replay, Wrexham and Brighton are currently involved in a penalty shootout and Athletic Bilbao overcame Mallorca with a 2-0 in the Copa Del Rey.

The second half has just begun…

GOAL! Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 1 (Carles Puyol)

The Barcelona captain levels terms from a corner. Storming part Pepe, who has clearly switched off, the defender powers home a header from four yards out. Game on.

A little chipped ball from Fabregas plays in Iniesta, who rifles a left-footed volley off the crossbar. Meanwhile Busquets receives a silly yellow card for blocking Xabi Alonso’ attempted quick free-kick.

Good spell of possession from Real Madrid sees Diarra pick out Altintop down the right flank. Neat footwork takes him by Iniesta and his cross finds Benzema on the far side.

Rising highest, the former Lyon striker clips the outside of the post and the ball bounces out of play.

According to Mister Chip, Puyol, at 33 years and 280 days, is the oldest El Clasico goalscorer in 29 years. Decent stat that.

Couple of substitutions for Madrid. Lassana Diarra makes way for Mesut Ozil while the in-form Jose Callejon is introduced in place of Gonzalo Higuain.

Pretty cynical play from Pepe in the last few minutes. First, he goes down holding his face when replays show he wasn’t caught. Then he proceeds to stamp on the hand of Messi.

Another great opportunity for Barcelona to score is wasted seconds later. Xavi’s free-kick could hardly have been executed any better and Busquets, whose run is timed to perfection, glances his header marginally over.

GOAL! Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 2

Messi, who has been oddly quiet for 76 minutes, plays an absolute beauty of a pass to the onrushing Abidal. The Frenchman just about beats the offside, then controls with his chest and tucks the ball past Pinto.

Mourinho is obviously aware the Pepe could very well be shown his marching orders in the final ten minutes and wisely decides to replace him with Esteban Granero. Sanchez also comes off for Brazilian left-sided player Adriano.

Thiago Alcantera, son of Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho, is given four minutes of normal time after coming on for Xavi. Cesc then wanders off for Isaac Cuenca.

Ricardo Carvalho deservedly goes into the book for blatantly clipping the heels of Messi.

FULL-TIME: Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 2

So Barcelona edge out their biggest rivals with two second half goals after going down to Ronaldo’s early strike. It wasn’t a vintage display from the Catalan giants and poor defending contributed on both occasions but, like Messi’s pass showed, afford them space and you’re sure to be punished.

The second leg at the Nou Camp is next Wednesday, January 25. As always, thanks for stopping by… ’til the next time!

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