Live Commentary: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona - as it happened

Live Commentary: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona - as it happened
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Sports Mole brings you live commentary of the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final in Madrid as Real Madrid and Barcelona draw 1-1.

Real Madrid welcomed Barcelona to the Spanish capital on Wednesday in the first leg of their semi-final in the Copa del Rey.

Barcelona dominated possession in the first period, but neither side could open the scoring despite a series of half-chances.

The away side did take a decisive lead early in the second half, however, when Cesc Fabregas collected a loose pass from Mesut Ozil to finish from loose range.

Madrid continued to press in the latter stages and finally had their goal through a powerful header from Raphael Varane.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.

7.01pmEvening all! It’s the match that you have all been waiting for as Real Madrid welcome Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final in the Spanish capital. Madrid sit an incredible 15 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona with 17 matches remaining and will therefore be keen to get one over on their old rivals by taking the cup this season.

7.04pmDespite Madrid’s struggles this season, they are on an incredible 31-match unbeaten run on their home patch, winning 26 of those encounters. Their form in Madrid has not been as impressive when welcoming Barcelona, however, with the Castilian side winning just one of their last eight home matches against Barcelona.

7.07pmIt is widely thought that Mourinho will depart Madrid at the end of the season, but there is no question that he will be revved up for this particular fixture due to his long-standing history with Barcelona. Should they fail to beat the Catalan outfit over the two legs, then the current Spanish champions would be heading for a disappointing end to the season, unless they can secure the Champions League crown.

7.10pmMadrid enter the match off the back of a seven-match unbeaten run, scoring 12 times in their last five matches and conceding just once. Perhaps the biggest disappointment in terms of their league campaign is the fact that they trail capital rivals Atletico Madrid in Spain’s top division. They thumped Getafe 4-0 in the league last time out, however, and therefore will enter the match full of confidence. The team news for tonight's match is expected in the next five or so minutes. We will bring you up to speed with who is in and who is out as soon as we know.

7.13pmThe onus will certainly be on the home side to take a lead into the second leg, which is due to take place at the end of February. There will also be huge pressure on the referee this evening with Mourinho a firm believer that the decisions have gone against his side in recent meetings between the two sides.

7.16pmBarcelona, meanwhile, are enjoying perhaps their best-ever season in recent history. They have won eight of their last nine away matches across all competitions, but they did suffer defeat away to Real Sociedad on January 13. How did they respond? By scoring four goals against Malaga, who boast the best defence in La Liga, before thumping Osasuna 5-1 at the Camp Nou last weekend.

7.19pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Diego Lopez comes in for his Madrid debut this evening, while there are also starting places for Michael Essien and Jose Callejon. Gonzalo Higuain is on the bench with Karim Benzema preferred in attack, Cristiano Ronaldo will skipper the home side. Barcelona, meanwhile, recall Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas to their starting side. Full team news to follow.


REAL MADRID: Lopez; Essien, Varane, Carvalho, Arbeloa; Khedira, Alonso, Ozil; Callejon, Ronaldo, Benzema

BARCELONA: Pinto; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta

7.25pmLast season was a disappointment by Barcelona standards with just the Copa del Rey trophy to their name having been dumped out of the Champions League by Chelsea and losing their domestic crown to Madrid. It is no surprise that they currently sit top of La Liga, some 11 points ahead of nearest challenges Atletico Madrid with 17 matches to play.

7.28pmThey also top the form table in La Liga having taken 15 points from the last 18 on offer. That is in contrast to Madrid who have taken 11 points in the same period. Despite winning 10 of their 11 league fixtures on the road, they have been far from watertight in defence, conceding 16 goals on their travels. They were also hit by the news this week that Victor Valdes will not be signing a new contract with the club.

7.31pmLet’s take a closer look at how both teams have fared in the league this season. Madrid enter the match boasting the second-best defensive record in La Liga with just 20 goals conceded, keeping nine clean sheets in the process. That is in contrast to Barcelona who have conceded 24 goals, four more than their opponents this evening.

7.34pmDown the other end, perhaps not too surprisingly, Barcelona have scored the most goals with 71, an incredible 17 ahead of Madrid in second position. Just to give you an idea of how that works out per game, it is just under 3.5 goals per match in Spain’s leading division. That is just stunning. That said, there is a general feeling, not just in Spain, but as a wider view, that Barcelona’s defence can be got at this season.

7.37pmHowever, of course, this is not a league fixture. So let’s take a look at how both sides made it to this stage of the competition, starting with Madrid. Mourinho’s side were comfortable winners over Alcoyano in the round of 32. They found things tougher against Celta Vigo in the next round, but recovered form a first-leg defeat to turn things around on their home patch.

7.40pmNext came Valencia in the quarter-finals. They were perhaps lucky to take a 2-0 lead into the second leg, but they got the job done at the Mestalla with a 1-1 draw. That pitted them against their old foes in the final four. Just a quick note on the other semi-final, which we will bring you tomorrow, Atletico Madrid welcome Sevilla to the Vicente Calderon in the first leg.

7.43pmBarcelona secured their spot in the round of 16 with a comfortable victory over Alaves, while they were not tested as they overcame Cordoba in the next round. Malaga awaited in the quarter-finals, with the first leg ending in a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou. However, in what many consider their best performance of the season, the Catalan outfit emerged 4-2 winners in the second leg to book their spot in the semi-finals.

7.46pmIn terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, they cannot be separated. As mentioned, the points were shared in a 2-2 draw last time out at the Nou Camp, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both scoring twice. Madrid secured the Spanish Super Cup earlier in the season with a 2-1 win at home, having lost the first leg 3-2 in the Camp Nou. Madrid have enjoyed recent success in Barcelona, however, with a 2-1 win last April, a result that went a long way to securing the Spanish title.

7.49pmIt wouldn’t be right to discuss this particular fixture without mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Last Sunday was a quite incredible day of Spanish football, Ronaldo thought he had stolen the headlines with a fine hat-trick against Getafe, only for Messi to score four later in the evening against Osasuna. I don’t think there is any question that they are the two best players in world football.

7.52pmSince Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009, he has scored 179 goals in 176 games. Last season he scored a sensational 60 goals in 55 matches in all competitions, while he is on his way to a similar record this campaign with 33 goals in 32 matches thus far. He has also scored in his last six consecutive matches against Barcelona. It was long considered that if your striker scored a goal every two goals, then he was in good form, but Ronaldo and Messi have completely rewritten the history books.

7.55pmSpeaking of Messi, the Argentine has scored 297 goals in 361 appearances since making his debut in 2004. Last season, he scored 73 goals in 60 matches, while this season he already has 44 goals in 32 games, including 33 in the league. We are not even out of January and those are the statistics for these two quite sensational footballers.

7.58pmMessi, who broke Gerd Muller’s long-standing record of 85 goals in a calendar year by scoring 91 in 2012, is also chasing another piece of history this evening. The Argentine has scored 17 goals in El Clasico matches, just one short of Madrid legend Alberto Di Stefano on 18. How many more records are there for him to break?

0 minHere we go then. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Just about time for my pre-match prediction. I am backing a 2-2 draw this evening. I just cannot separate the two sides. Right, the home side kick us off on this mild evening in the Spanish capital. Ronaldo and Puyol skipper the sides this evening.

2 minIt's a bright start from the home side as Ronaldo drives down the left before darting past the challenge of Pique, but the defender brings down the Madrid skipper in his tracks. It might well have been a red card there, but the referee awards the yellow. It will be Ronaldo to take the resulting free kick from just outside the box.

3 minRonaldo's effort is towards the top corner, but Pinto comes across to make the save. Barcelona attempt to attack with Xavi finding Fabregas, but Khedira has possession back and the pressure continues once more. High-tempo start from Mourinho's side. Hardly time to take a breath inside the opening three minutes.

5 minMadrid continue to dominate the early stages of possession with Jose Callejon and Karim Benzema combining well outside the box, but Pique comes out to make the challenge. Once more, Barcelona attempt to gain a period of control with Messi, but Carvalho is straight in the Argentine's face before Dani Alves is chopped down by Arbeloa.

7 minDecent period of possession for the away side as Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets all enjoy a passing sequence in midfield. The latter looks for the run of Pedro, but the offside flag is raised at the vital moment. Once more Barcelona break with Messi, but a wonderful challenge from Xabi Alonso quells the threat. Incredible opening seven minutes to this match, end-to-end football. Everything you could have hoped for.

9 minWonderful atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment as the Madrid supporters create a deafening noise. Half-chance for the home side as Essien's cross is deflected towards Pinto, but the Barcelona stopper is able to palm the ball over his own crossbar. The resulting corner causes problems with Varane challenging Pique, but the Spaniard clears.

11 minNot too much to report in the last couple of moments with Barcelona just taken control of the possession in midfield. Messi attempts to craft into the penalty area as he plays a one-two with Fabregas, but he moves into an offside position and the flag is raised. The opening 11 minutes has certainly lived up to the expectations.

13 minAgain it's Madrid that look to play on the counter as Ronaldo combines with Ozil before driving to the edge of the box, but he just cannot sort out his feet at the vital moment. Another half-chance emerges as Alonso slips a pass towards Ronaldo, but Pique is across to make a fine block.

14 minCHANCE! The best chance of the match by some distance comes to Barcelona as Iniesta finds Alba in the penalty area, but the Spaniard can only fire his effort wide of the post. Wonderful work from Iniesta and Messi in that move. You just get the feeling that Madrid need to take a lead into the second leg.

16 minBarcelona have just started to take control of the possession with their midfield players dropping deep to collect the ball before looking for the run of Messi. However, Madrid will be more than happy to allow the away side possession in that particular area. Mourinho comes off his seat to give his team a slight look, but returns seconds later.

18 minCarvalho is the first Madrid player to have his name taken as he challenges Fabregas just inside the opposing half. The Spaniard wants more, but the referee was not prepared to issue further punishment. The resulting free kick is played into the area by Xavi, but Albiol comes across before looking for Ronaldo down the right.

20 minOzil thinks that he is in with a shooting chance as the German collects a pass from Ronaldo before driving towards goal, but once more the linesman raises his flag and the attack is cut short. It remains a high-tempo affair, but it has brought just the one clear chance thus far. Barcelona continue to pass and probe outside the box with 20 minutes on the clock.

22 minCHANCE! Madrid's clearest chance of the evening comes to Ronaldo as Benzema chips a cross into the penalty area, but it is just too high for the Portuguese who gave his best superman impression by hanging in the air. Messi probes down the other end moments later, but Carvalho comes across to fell Iniesta.

24 minCROSSBAR! Barcelona come close from the resulting free kick as Xavi strikes a powerful effort towards the top corner, but it thumps off the crossbar. That is just stunning technique from the Spaniard. Ronaldo collects possession and immediately attacks down the other end, but Pique is across to clear. Stunning evening of Spanish football here.

26 minAgain it's wonderful football from Barcelona as Alves combines with Iniesta before the latter slips a low pass towards Pedro, but Lopez comes out to gather the danger. It is the away supporters that are making most of the noise as we surpass the midpoint in the opening period. Neither team is really on top at the moment despite Barcelona keeping hold of possession.

26 minCHANCE! It is awful defending from Carvalho as the defender presents the ball straight to Xavi in the penalty area, but Varane gets back on the line to clear at the vital moment. What on earth is Carvalho doing? He has already been booked here. Early change maybe?!

28 minAnother half-chance comes to the away side as Iniesta finds the run of Fabregas behind the Barcelona defence, but the linesman just raises his flag at the vital moment, much to the delight of Varane who had just been caught in that attack. Madrid advance down the other end with Ozil, but the German just cannot find the elusive final pass. Benzema has a strike moments later, but it just moves wide of the post.

30 minGood pressure from the home side as they fire a series of high balls into the penalty area, but Pique is on hand to clear twice in quick succession. A poor pass from Busquets allows Benzema into the box moments later, but he just cannot find the target. Little over 15 minutes of the half remaining with the score level at 0-0.

32 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Ronaldo finds Callejon behind the Barcelona defence, but his touch is poor at the vital moment and Pique is across to clear the danger. Messi attempts to dart into the Madrid penalty area moments later, but it is wonderful strength from Essien as he comes across to make a vital challenge.

34 minEach decision the referee makes, about five members of each team surround the official. It is quite stunning to watch. Alves gives his best Oscar impression as he rolls around on the floor, but Ronaldo is not booked for the challenge. The resulting free kick is taken by Messi, but his effort is just high and wide of the crossbar.

36 minSlightly scrappy period of the match in the last few moments with both sides exchanging spells of possession. Ronaldo wants a free kick outside the box as Busquets comes back to make the challenge, but the referee shakes his head, much to the Portuguese's frustration. Little under 10 minutes of the first period remaining and we await the opening goal.

38 minCHANCE! Good pressure from Madrid once more as Callejon drives down the right before firing a low cross into the box, but it just would not fall for Ronaldo, with Pique across to thump the danger clear. Mourinho is going made on the sidelines at the moment. His side perhaps should be ahead. Meanwhile, it appears that Pinto has a slight problem here.

40 minAnother half-chance on the counter for Madrid as Ronaldo finds Ozil with a stunning pass, the German in turn finds Arbeloa, but the Spaniard fires his effort straight at the defender. The pressure continues with Benzema, but he can only bundle his shot wide of the target. It's all Madrid at the moment, but Barcelona threaten on the break.

42 minBarcelona enjoy a decent spell of possession as we approach the final couple of minutes in the first period. It has been an all-action first half in the Spanish capital. In keeping with the clash, Alves clashes with Alonso, but it is more handbags than anything else and the referee takes that into account.

44 minThe third yellow card of the evening is handed to Callejon for dissent. As we stand, Madrid have committed 11 fouls, while Barcelona have committed just the one. There are usually around seven bookings when these two sides meet. I would not rule out a red card in the second period.

45 minBarcelona threaten once more as Alves fires a cross into the box, but Essien is on hand to clear. The home side attack down the other end with Khedira, but his pass towards Benzema was just too short and Pique is across to clear the danger. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute of stoppage time at the end of the half.

45 min+1HALF-TIME: Real Madrid 0-0 Barcelona

8.48pmSo there we have it. A tense, entertaining half is brought to an end with the two sides level at 0-0. Both teams have had opportunities to open the scoring, but a draw at this stage is just about a fair reflection of the opening 45 minutes of Copa del Rey football.

8.52pmLet's take a look at some statistics from the opening half of football. Barcelona have dominated the possession with 63%, while they have had five attempts to Madrid's three. The foul count also makes interesting reading with Madrid committing 12 fouls to Barcelona's one. It has been that type of half.

8.56pmLet's take a look at both benches for this evening. Madrid have a host of attacking talent on the sidelines with Kaka, Gonzalo Higuain and Luka Modric all available. Meanwhile, Barcelona have the likes of David Villa, Thiago and Alexis Sanchez. Both managers have the ability to influence proceedings from the bench.

9pmJust a reminder that nothing will be decided this evening with the second leg of the semi-final to take place at the end of February. The second semi-final does take place this week, however, with Atletico Madrid hosting Sevilla in the first leg on Thursday. Right, we are just a couple of moments away from the second period.

46 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of the second period. No changes for either side at the interval which is not all that surprising based on how events unfolded. You do get the feeling that Madrid have to take a lead into the second leg if they are to advance. Barcelona get the second period underway.

48 minDecent start to the second period from Barcelona with their midfield players enjoying plenty of the ball in and around the Madrid penalty area. This is how the second half will be played, Madrid will allow Barcelona the ball outside the box and hope to break with the likes of Ronaldo and Benzema.

49 minCHANCE! It's wonderful feet from Benzema as the Frenchman dances past two challenges before firing an effort towards the top corner, but it just moves high of the crossbar. Barcelona advance immediately down the other end with Pedro, but the Spaniard cannot find Messi just outside the box.

50 minNot too much to get excited about in terms of attacking football at the moment with Barcelona more than happy to keep hold of possession in midfield. Eventually Xavi looks for the pass towards Pedro, but Lopez comes out to collect. It must be said that the Madrid goalkeeper, who is making his debut this evening, has been impressive.

50 minGOAL! Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona (Fabregas)

51 minBarcelona take a crucial lead in this match as Fabregas collects a loose pass from Ozil before turning in the box and firing his effort into the back of the net. It is a good finish from the Spaniard, but it was a terrible mistake from the Madrid midfielder.

53 minWhat a big goal that could be in the context of this tie. Madrid attempt to attack down the other end with Ronaldo, but their frustration continues as play is stopped for a rash challenge by Essien on Alba. Mourinho is now out on the touchline once more. Madrid have to score this evening. There is no question about that.

55 minAgain Barcelona look to attack as Fabregas slips a pass towards Messi, but Lopez is out from his goal to clear the danger. The home supporters have just gone ever so quiet since that opening goal for the away side. Ronaldo attempts to create something as he finds Alonso outside the box, but Busquets is across to clear the danger at the vital moment.

57 minAnother half-chance for the away side as Fabregas collects a pass from Pedro before advancing on goal, but Varane is across to make a stunning challenge. He has been the star of the show this evening. Messi has another chance to attack moments later as he collects a pass from Xavi, but the offside flag is raised, despite replays suggesting that the Argentine was level with the final defender.

59 minMadrid make their first change of the evening just before the hour mark as Callejon is replaced by Luka Modric. Will that mean a change of formation? Little over 30 minutes of football remaining and as it stands, Barcelona will be the big favourites to advance from the second leg. Modric is immediately involved as he searches out Ronaldo, but Pinto is out to clear.

61 minCHANCE! OH MY WORD! Stunning chance for the home side as Essien floats a cross into the penalty area, but Ronaldo can only head wide of the post. He was just about two inches wide from levelling the score. His face says it all as he looks up to the heavens.

63 minThe match is really starting to open up at the moment with both sides attacking with pace and purpose. Another low cross comes in from Essien, but Alves is across to clear. Barcelona want a red card down the other end as Carvalho comes across to make another challenge, but the referee shakes his head. Meanwhile, it appears that Higuain will soon join us.

65 minAnother half-chance for the away side as Alves strikes a powerful effort from outside the box, but Lopez is across to clear the danger. Meanwhile, the change is indeed made as Benzema is replaced by Higuain. Can the Argentine inspire his team in the remaining 25 minutes of this match? You just get the feeling that there is at least another goal in this one.

67 minPossession football from Barcelona at the moment as they continue to terrorise the Madrid midfield with pass after pass. The frustration is etched all over the face of Arbeloa as the Spaniard brings down Iniesta outside the box. Still no movement on the away side's bench, although David Villa and Alexis Sanchez are going through rigorous warm-up routines.

67 minPossession football from Barcelona at the moment as they continue to terrorise the Madrid midfield with pass after pass. The frustration is etched all over the face of Arbeloa as the Spaniard brings down Iniesta outside the box. Still no movement on the away side's bench, although David Villa and Alexis Sanchez are going through rigorous warm-up routines.

69 minAnother half-chance for Madrid as Ozil drives a low cross into the area, but Pique is on hand to make a fine challenge at the feet of Ronaldo. That is just stunning from the Spaniard. But for that intervention it would have been 1-1. Madrid are knocking on the door, but it appears that their luck has deserted them this evening.

71 minCROSSBAR! Barcelona open up Madrid once more as Pedro finds Fabregas in the box, but the Spaniard can only thump his effort against the crossbar. Madrid look to counter down the other end with Ronaldo, but the skipper just cannot find the pass towards Ozil. Little over 20 minutes of football remaining here.

73 min: CHANCE! Madrid continue to throw high balls into the penalty area as they go in search of the leveller, but it almost costs them. Pedro collects a pass from Messi before driving into the penalty area, but he can only chip his effort just wide of the post. What a sensational miss at this stage of proceedings.

75 minThe chances continue to come down either end as Ronaldo drives into the penalty area, but he can only fire his effort wide of the target. Messi wriggles clear down the other end, but Varane is across once more to make a decisive block. How good has he been this evening? Just about 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

77 minThe away side make a change as Pedro is replaced by Sanchez, his pace will surely worry for the home side in the remaining moments of this match. Remember, nothing will be decided this evening with the second leg to come at the end of February. But as things stand the Catalan outfit would be big favourites to advance.

79 minBarcelona have the ball in the back of the net once more as Messi collects a pass from Pedro before chipping his effort over the goalkeeper, but the offside flag is raised. Modric bursts into life down the other end as he glides past two challenges before finding Ronaldo, but once more Pique is across to cleatr at the vital moment.

81 minSAVE! Wonderful goalkeeping from Lopez as the Madrid goalkeeper comes out to challenge at the feet of Messi. The Argentine is a threat moments later as he attempts to drive into the box, but Varane is across to make a stunning challenge. Little under 10 minutes of normal time remaining here.

81 minGOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (Varane)

82 minMadrid are back in this match as Varane meets a free kick from Ronaldo to thump his header into the back of the net. He has been the star of the show this evening. Madrid level on the night and finally they have a way back into this tie.

84 minLittle over five minutes of football remaining and the home side are very much on the attack here as Essien drives a low cross towards Ozil, the German in turn finds a pass towards Ronaldo, but Pique is across to clear at the vital moment. All-action stuff here.

86 minMeanwhile, Barcelona make another change as Thiago replaces Fabregas for the final stages of this match. Looking at this result as it stands, it would not be the worst night for either side. Barcelona would be favourites, but there is always a chance for Madrid to score an away goal. However, we still have time for late drama here.

88 minAgain Madrid pressure with Ozil down the right, but the German is stopped in his tracks by a fine challenge from Xavi. The Barcelona midfielder attempts to find Messi down the other end, but the wonderful Varane is across to clear at the vital moment. Little over two minutes of football to play and the score remains 1-1.

90 minHalf-chance for Barcelona as Messi drives into the penalty area, but Lopez is across to make a wonderful save. The resulting corner causes concern in the Madrid defence, but Ronaldo thumps clear at the vital moment. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes of stoppage time.

90 min+3Madrid continue to pressure in the latter stages of the match with Ozil and Ronaldo both coming close with efforts from close range, but Puyol comes across to block and that should be just about that for this one.

90 min+3FULL-TIME: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona

9.50pmSo there we have it. Madrid come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw against Barcelona. It was not the most eventful El Clasico that you will ever see, but an interesting battle nonetheless. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and look out for our analysis in the next 30 minutes or so. Good evening!

Santiago Bernabeau
Read Next:
Preview: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona
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