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Page last updated at 19:42 GMT, Saturday, 10 December 2011

Real Madrid v Barcelona as it happened


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By Sam Sheringham

2315: Not quite a classic Clasico then but plenty of drama all the same and the Spanish title race is very much alive. Time for you to sink your teeth into David Ornstein's match report and for me to seek out a hot beverage. Thank you immensely for all the texts and tweets. Buenas noches.

2309: Just to confirm then that Barca are top of the league on goal difference, but Real Madrid have a game in hand. And I've just learnt that Karim Benzema's goal was the fastest ever in 216 editions of El Clásico.

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From Tony in South Shields via text on 81111: "Major turning point in La Liga tonight, Barca know how to win in all sorts of games."

saidmadrid on Twitter: "Mentally some Real players still feel inferior to BarCa, and that was a key factor today. Strange display by Real Madrid. I'm sad."

KevinonEarth on Twitter: "And another massively disappointing performance from TwinkleToes. Ballon D'Or settled then for the little Argentinian."

2258: The Barca players head straight towards their fans to celebrate a truly massive win. How must Cristiano Ronaldo be feeling? He had a truly wretched night, missing two great chances, including a header from point-blank range moments before Barca put the game beyond doubt with the third goal.

2256: So, all the talk before the game was about rampant Real potentially opening up a six point gap in the title race with a game in hand, and it didn't look good for Barcelona when they went behind after 22 seconds. But the Catalans responded in the manner of true champions to put three unanswered goals past their arch-rivals. Barca are top of the table, and it's back to the drawing-board for Mourinho.

Full-time: Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona

2253: It's another miserable effort, straight into the wall, and it's followed by the final whistle.

2251: Some late handbags involving Puyol and Keita and Real have a late chance with a free-kick on the edge of the box...

2249: Extraordinary passage of play as Barca keep the ball for about three minutes before the move finally breaks down. Real fans heading for the salidas in their droves.

2246: Barca are playing keep-ball now and most of the play is in the Real half. Another change for the visitors, with Iniesta replaced by fellow World Cup-winner Pedro.

2243: Mayhem in the Real box as Pepe gives the ball away and both Messi and Iniesta fire straight at Casillas from close range. Five minutes of the 90 remaining now - Barca are on course to go top of the table.

2242: Great chance for Kaka as receives the ball inside the box on the left and shoots. Valdes is going the wrong way but manages to get a hand to it and keep it out.

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From Chris in Lincolnshire via text on 81111: "(Re JB 2123) Maybe Real Madrid will be better in Mourinho's THIRD season! If he gets one."

2237: Barca are making a change now, with Fabregas coming off for the more defensive-minded Seydou Keita. Time is running out for Real Madrid.

2235: Just seen Mourinho looking predictably glum with hands deep in his pockets. Will he have a moan about the Messi red card that wasn't in the first half? It was a key moment, that's for sure.

2234: Real come very close to a second goal as Benzema cuts inside from the left and fires across the face of goal, with Higuain inches away from applying the finish.

Ian Wright on Twitter: "El Clasico awesome. Barca just never panic.."

2230: Barca could run in a few more here, with Real now taking risks and leaving gaps at the back. Alves sends over an inviting cross for Messi, but Pepe does well to win the header.

Yellow card
2229: Sergio Ramos is the latest member of the home side to be shown a yellow card for a nasty late tackle on Messi.

2226: That passage of play sums up top-level football. Ronaldo misses a golden chance to equalise with a free header and Barca go straight up the other end and make it 3-1. Mourinho responds by bringing on Higuain for Di Maria. Can the Argentine turn things around on his 24th birthday?

Barca goal: Messi threads the ball out to the overlapping Dani Alves on the right and his superb cross is finished off by Fabregas with a diving header at the far post.

GOALFLASH: Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona (Fabregas)

2222: Ronaldo's evening is going from bad to worse! Alonso curls over a cross from the left and Ronaldo is completely unmarked but can only head well wide. So wasteful.

Yellow card
2220: Another yellow for Real as Pepe hacks down Messi. And another substitution too, with Sami Khedira coming on Diarra. Messi takes the free-kick and it whistles past the post.

Yellow card
2219: Diarra is booked for what I can only describe as a rugby tackle on Iniesta. Then Messi threads a pass through to Sanchez, whose low shot from a tight angle is saved by Casillas with his feet.

Dan D on Twitter: "How are Madrid losing this? Even without Ronaldo firing, they have been dominant for the most part."

2217: Kaka is coming on for Ozil. Real definitely needed to change something. Messi almost fashions another chance for Barca but is foiled by a last-ditch challenge. Then Iniesta finds Fabregas inside the box, but the ex-Gunner is offside.

2214: That feels very harsh on Real, but Barca had made a brighter start to this half and I was just penning an entry about the improvement in their passing when I was rudely interrupted by the goal.

Barca goal: This game has been turned on its head. A clearance finds Xavi 25 yards out and his volley takes a wicked deflection off Marcelo and wrong-foots Casillas before going in off the post.

GOALFLASH: Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona (Xavi)

2208: It's another very tame effort from Ronaldo ... easy peasy for Victor Valdes. He went for placement over power but once again, that was poor.

2207: Ronaldo's free-kick goes straight into the wall but he will have another chance from a central position as Alves brings down Pepe.

2205: Gerard Pique goes into the book for a foul on Ronaldo. He left his leg hanging there and Ronaldo is not one to turn down an invitation like that.

2203: The second half of El Clasico is under way...

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From anonymous via text on 81111: "No doubt that Messi should be off. Ref was only worried he would get criticised. Question is, if that was Ronaldo, would he have been sent off?"

Manchester City defender Micah Richards on Twitter: "Sanchez scores and every1 runs to Messi! Great ball but come on! #goldenboyorwhat!"

2200: Still time to get the teas in before the second half, but don't dither because I've got a feeling we are in for some fireworks. The slick pitch is making tackles harder to time and Alonso, Sanchez and Messi are already on a yellow card.

Lekzikon on Twitter: "Ronaldo is his usual self.. Nowhere to be found in big games."

2155: I reckon Barca gave the ball away more times in that half than they did in the entire Champions League campaign last season. Real Madrid will be kicking themselves that they couldn't nab the second goal, but the draw might actually suit them more than Barca.

OliverRhodes on Twitter: "Real Madrid less naive (than in previous El Clasicos) and so far breaking Barca's flow. Good half for them."

J_Blackbird on Twitter: "Messi should have been sent off there, best player in the world or not."

2148: A very interesting half but perhaps not quite the quality of football we were expecting. Real seem somehow fitter and quicker than last season, and are harrying Barca all over the pitch. The Catalans look out of sorts and will be delighted to come in on level terms.

HALF-TIME: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona

2144: Ooh la la, Messi is a very lucky boy. His challenge is late and the referee seems to go to his pocket before realising it is Messi and resisting showing him the second yellow.

2143: Another poor contribution from Ronaldo as his aimless cross-field pass picks out a Barca shirt. Fabregas hasn't really got in the game yet either.

2141: Both sides are struggling a bit to get their passing games together. I think the wet pitch might have something to do with it. It's been pretty even since the Barca goal with both sides' attacks petering out before the danger area.

From OptaJose on Twitter: "Benzema's goal means Real Madrid have equalled Barcelona's 2010 record of the most goals scored in a calendar year in Primera. Frenzy."

Yellow card
2137: It's not in the pocket for long though as Messi sees yellow for dissent. Not often the little Argentine loses his cool.

2135: Howls from the crowd as Dani Alves puts in a late challenge on Alonso. Real Madrid players surround the referee but the yellow stays in the pocket this time.

alexhardy1987 on Twitter: "What a goal! Against the run of play though. Stunning finish from Alexis."

Barca goal: We have a game on here people. Messi, under pressure, slides a perfect pass through to Sanchez who fires a low shot past Casillas from the edge of the box. Cracking goal.

GOALFLASH: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona ( Sanchez)

2130: I'm not sure what Diarra's scoring record is, but prolific he ain't. He receives the ball in space but fires miles over the bar.

Yellow card
2129: Barca's Alexis Sanchez is shown a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Di Maria.

2125: What a miss from Ronaldo! Benzema does brilliantly on the right to work some space and cuts the ball back for the Portugal winger. He has time to pick his spot from the edge of the area but he side-foots well wide. Di Maria was well-placed for a pass too.

2123: Barca win a free-kick on the edge of the box as Diarra upends Fabregas. Xavi's curling effort is meat and drink for Casillas, bt he still chooses to punch it and the ball flies over the bar.

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From JB via text on 81111: "Mourinho says it is always his second season in charge that gets the best out of his team. Just as it was with Inter. Real are going to rip apart Barcelona tonight and win everything Spanish this season."

2120: Ronaldo runs straight at the heart of the Barca defence and unleashes a drive from the edge of the area. It's straight at Valdes, but the keeper opts to punch it straight back out and gets lucky as the ball falls to a Real shirt.

2118: I may have spoken too soon about Di Maria. He's back on the field, on the right-hand side of Real's three-man attack. It's raining hard out there and the surface looks slick. Barca haven't got their passing game going yet.

2115: Another horrible clearance from Valdes goes straight to Xabi Alonso. He tries his luck from just inside the Barca half but his shot is wayward. Angel Di Maria has gone down off the ball. Looks like a groin problem. And I think his night might be over.

2113: As many of you pointed out beforehand, Cesc is actually playing centrally, with Iniesta on the left. But Barca look a one-man team at the moment, with only Messi really settling into the game.

2111: Just been told that Real Madrid have won their last 72 league matches in which they have taken the lead. They certainly look the better side at the moment as Di Maria sends over a cross from the right and Benzema's header is comfortably saved by Valdes.

daviddavidlim on Twitter: " That must be one of the fastest goals in elclasico history ever. #bbcfootball. Hadn't even sat down with brekkie.."

2110: An electric counter-attack from Real produces a chance for Di Maria on the right, but his shot lacks any power and is easily saved by Valdes.

2106: What an error from Victor Valdes. He looks like he wants the ground to swallow him up. Barca threatening now... A brilliant weaving run from Messi, but Casillas tips his shot wide.

Real Madrid goal: Oh my word. This is unbelievable. We have a goal after 22 seconds. Valdes tries to roll the ball out to Abidal but it goes straight to Di Maria, who tries to pass to Benzema. The pass gets cut out and falls to Ozil, whose volley deflects to Benzema, who pokes in from six yards. Amazing start.

GOALFLASH: Real Madrid 1-0 Barcelona (Benzema)

2100: Captains Casillas and Puyol have shaken hands, and so have Mourinho and Guardiola, with the Portuguese kneeling down theatrically at the entrance to the tunnel to greet his rival. We have lift-off...

2054: Ronaldo has slotted a few corkers this year too, but is there still a question mark over him in the very biggest games? He has only scored three times in 12 games against Barca for Manchester United and Real Madrid.

2050: Ten minutes until kick-off and we're just enjoying a few of Messi's goals from this season. Like all the truly great forwards, he seems at his calmest when he is in front of goal. Having said that, the wee man has only scored once away from home in the league this season. Step it up Lionel.

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From anonymous via text on 81111: "Interested to see if real change their strategy from last year's Clasicos. If they do then this will be an absolute cracker! Hoping to see less kicking, diving and card waving this year too. Going with 2-1 Real."

2045: A couple more tasty nuggets of stat gold for you. Barca are unbeaten in their last five visits to the Bernabeu and the last six home or away in the league. In the last seven years, the team that has won the first Clasico of the season has gone on to win La Liga.

2042: Just had our first glimpses of the stadium on the box and looks packed to the rafters already. I'm loving the fact that this game starts at 10pm local time and will finish just before midnight. Just in time for when the bars open.

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley on Twitter: "Gutted about the result today an not getting on but signing new deal next week so that's something to keep me smiling."

gowshe12 on Twitter: "El Clasico is THE only competitive game in La Liga calendar and it decides the destination of the title."

2034: I'm trying to work out how Barca are going to play this tonight, given that they effectively have four central midfielders in their side. My guess is that Fabregas will take up a wide position, with Sanchez on the other flank and Messi in the middle. "How's our Cesc getting on in Spain?" I hear you asking in a protective fatherly tone. Well, in 11 games, he has seven goals and five assists. In conclusion: not bad at all.

2030: I've been scouring t'interweb for decent previews of tonight's game and there are some gems about. Sid Lowe's comprehensive piece in the Guardian sums up how Mourinho has won over the Real fans and the club's hierarchy, while ESPN columnist Graham Hunter sums up the key clashes.

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From Matt in Portsmouth via text on 81111: "Sam, I'd familiarise yourself with the handbag graphic for this one. You'll be needing it my friend. Also expecting the red card graphic."

mUtE10_PR on Twitter: "Let me put this match into perspective for everyone. El Clasico is to football what oxygen is to Homo sapiens."

David Ornstein reports: "Real Madrid make two changes to the side won at Sporting Gijon a week ago, Xabi Alonso replacing Sami Khedira in central midfield and Karim Benzema preferred to birthday boy Gonzalo Higuain up front. There is just the one alteration for Barcelona from the 5-0 thrashing of Levante - Gerard Pique coming in for Isaac Cuenca at the back - but more significantly, Alexis Sanchez retains his place in attack ahead of David Villa."

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From Matt in East London via text on 81111: "This really is absolutely massive, not only for the obvious rivalry-related reasons both on an individual and collective basis. If Real win, it will really take something spectacular or bizarre for them not to win the league - a nine point gap would be almost impossible for Barca to bridge."

2018: Reckon we'll see a red card tonight? If we do, recent history suggests it will be shown to a player in white. Seven Real players have been dismissed in the seven Clasicos since Jose Mourinho took over. The Portuguese boss accepted them all with good grace though.

nnajiprincec on Twitter: "Tough game for Barca, definitely not a walk-over...but I still see them notching a slender 2-1 win. You heard it here first."

2015: Despite my valiant efforts to play this up as a ensemble piece, there can be little doubting that Messi and Ronaldo will be star attractions tonight. And a quick glance at the scoring charts suggests both players' banjos are on pretty good terms with their barn doors at the minute. Messi has scored 27 times in 23 games in all competitions this season, while Ronaldo has a cool 21 in 20 including. Oh, and they've both scored four hat-tricks. Sharp work.

Barcelona team: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, Alexis & Messi.

Real Madrid team: Casillas, Coentrão, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Alonso, Lass, Di María, Özil, Ronaldo & Benzema.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: David Villa is left out of the Barca team as Alexis Sanchez starts up front. Real Madrid leave Gonzalo Higuain on the bench on his 24th birthday.

ShabazEjaz on Twitter: "Can't wait for El Clasico this year madrid look much more sharper and disciplined than last year! But it is the fearful Barca."

2006: For his part, Guardiola has admitted that Real are a tougher proposition this season. than they were last year. He said: "They know each other better, they have spent more time together and know what their coach demands of them. Messi has stressed the need for Barca to close the gap on Real before the Catalan giants jet off to Japan for the Club World Cup.

2000: One hour until kick-off folks. What has Mourinho got up his sleeve as he tries once again to topple the European Champions? Never one to miss a mind game, the Special One has already pulled his first prank, deciding not to turn up to the pre-match press conference and dispatching his sidekick Aitor Karanka to face the media.

From OptaJose on Twitter: "Real Madrid are one goal from equalling the record for most goals in a single calendar year in Primera (113 by Barcelona in 2010)."

Sam_arsenal96 on Twitter: "Two supernatural teams head to head. Real Madrid to win 4-1.You heard it hear first."

1955: When you've recovered from that stat attack, you may well want to get in touch with all your pre-match thoughts, predictions, hopes and fears. Are Real Madrid actually the favourites for this one or will Barcelona stamp their class on the fixture once again? Tweet me @samsheringham tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball or whack over a text to 81111 (UK). And seeing as we've decided to embrace Mssrs Hype and Hyperbole with open arms tonight, I want to hear exactly how big you think this game is. Overblown, exaggerated, statements - send them my way.

1952: Last season Barca had the edge, annihilating Real 5-0 in their first league meeting and only losing one of their five contests in the league, Cup and Champions League as they swept to glory at home and in Europe. They followed that up with a 5-4 aggregate victory in the Spanish Super Cup in August. Since then, however, Real Madrid have quite simply been rampant. They lead Barca by three points in La Liga with a ga me in hand, have scored 72 goals in 22 matches in all competitions and are currently on a 15-match winning run.

1948: Yes folks, this is Real Madrid v Barcelona, El Clasico, the greatest footballing rivalry of them all. As ever, all eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and the coaches Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. But don't you go forgetting about those under-appreciated supporting actors called Xavi, Di Maria, Iniesta and Casillas now will you? Not to mention Fabregas, Alonso, Villa or Higuain.

1945: I'm not normally a big fan of hype and hyperbole. I'm more the kind of guy who plays things down rather than talks them up. But tonight I simply can't contain myself. The two best football teams in the stratosphere are about to collide in an explosive extravaganza of sporting brilliance. In spite of myself, I have to confess that I'm really rather excited. Are you?

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see also
Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona
11 Dec 11 |  Europe
Messi awarded Ballon d'Or award
09 Jan 12 |  Europe
Fabregas wins on Barcelona debut
18 Aug 11 |  Europe
Barcelona clinch Spanish league
12 May 11 |  Europe
Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid
26 Apr 11 |  Europe

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