Good evening and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text commentary of the La Liga clash between Barcelona
and Real Madrid
from Camp Nou. After the initial October date for El Clasico
was postponed due to political protests in Barcelona, the two biggest clubs in Spain will lock horns tonight. It should be a fascinating night of football, be sure to stay tuned for the action!
BARCELONA (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Rakitic, De Jong; Griezmann, L Suarez, Messi
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Valverde; Bale, Benzema, Isco
Barca's initial teamsheet for the match had Sergio Busquets in the XI, but the midfielder felt some discomfort ahead of kickoff and has been replaced by Ivan Rakitic. Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba start in the full-back areas with both players overcoming recent injuries, while Sergi Roberto starts in midfield. Ousmane Dembele's absence further forward means that it is straightforward for Valverde to select Antoine Griezmann alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
As for Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy is back for the capital side at left-back after serving a suspension, while Gareth Bale is handed a spot in attack alongside Karim Benzema. Federico Valverde and Isco also both earn starts, meaning that the likes of Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes are on the bench. It remains to be seen whether the visitors start in a 4-3-3 with Isco out wide or whether the Spaniard starts behind Bale and Benzema in a 4-3-1-2.
Both teams have collected 35 points from their 16 league fixtures this season, but Real Madrid have only lost once in Spain's top flight during the 2019-20 campaign while the reigning champions, who will enter the clash top of the table, have suffered three losses.
KICKOFF: Real Madrid kick things off at Camp Nou...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium tonight. A defeat for either would be far from terminal, but it would mean that one side would be the heavy favourites to enter the winter break in Spain top of the pile. Game on here.
Suarez is not moving too well in these early moments, which is not great news for Barca. Neither side has really been able to get things going in the early exchanges, although the home side currently have possession as the clock ticks onto four minutes here.
Just a word on Real Madrid's formation, it looks to be a diamond with Isco playing behind Bale and Benzema, which is fascinating to see. Barca are very much in control of the ball at the moment, though, and Suarez is now moving a little bit better here.
Half-chance for the home side as Alba volleys a pass towards Suarez, but the striker just cannot gather the ball under his spell. Real Madrid's defence were nowhere to be seen.
Still goalless with eight minutes on the clock, and there is not too much happening at the moment. To be brutally honest, both teams would take a 0-0 tonight.
The first free kick of the match sees Casemiro hack De Jong to the ground, and the Brazilian is a touch fortunate to escape a booking. It will be very interesting to see when the first yellow card of the match arrives and indeed what happens for it to be handed out.
SAVE! Comfortable save for Ter Stegen to keep out a turn and hit from Benzema.
It is not too difficult to see why Bale is in the XI tonight as the Wales international has the pace to cause Barca's defensive unit, which wants to push up, all sorts of issues.
Penalty shout for Barca as Carvajal blocks a cross from Alba!
Nothing doing here, the replays clearly show that Carvajal used his thigh to block the ball. It was excellent work from the right-back as Barca broke down the left.
The tempo of the match is incredible as Real Madrid turn the ball over in midfield before managing to break forward. The opening 15 minutes of this contest have flown past.
Mendy delivers into the home side's box after smart work from Benzema, but Barca manage to clear their lines as Pique bends low to head clear under pressure.
OFF THE LINE! Brilliant defending from Pique as the Barca centre-back clears off the line after Casemiro and Benzema had both risen and attempted to nod the ball into the corner!
Really good spell for the visitors at the moment as they continue to deliver dangerous crosses into the penalty box, but Barca are defending their lines impressively here.
YELLOW CARD! Rakitic (Barcelona) is booked for a foul on Isco.
Real Madrid continue to aggressively press Barca here, and there is no question that the home side are uncomfortable. Zidane's tactic has worked excellently in the first 23 minutes here.
CLOSE! Ramos flicks a low cross from Bale just wide of the home side's goal.
Bit of possession for Barca in the last couple of minutes as they look to move up the field, but there is nothing happening for the home side in terms of real attacks at the moment.
Better from the home side as they work their way into the penalty box through Semedo, but the offside flag is raised. Still goalless with 29 minutes on the clock at Camp Nou.
OFF THE LINE! Brilliant from Ramos this time to clear a shot from Messi off the line! The Argentine had poked the ball towards goal, but Ramos was on hand to clear his lines!
CLOSE! Valverde just misses the goal with a stunning volley from distance!
Militao has just come out to warm up and it appears that Ramos might have a problem here. That is one to watch as we approach the latter stages of the first half here.
Real Madrid are having to do some defending at the moment as Barca continue to threaten in the wide positions. The champions are looking for the breakthrough in the latter stages of a first half which has been dominated by the visitors for long stages.
Bale manages to challenge Lenglet inside the Barca box, but the home side clear their lines through Pique. Messi is starting to see more and more of the ball for the champions.
SHOT! Kroos bends one wide of the Barca post from outside the box.
Barca give the ball away twice within the space of a few moments, which hands Madrid possession in a dangerous area. Bale decides to strike towards goal in the second attack, but the Welshman's effort is blocked high into the air and Ter Stegen can collect.
YELLOW CARD! Suarez (Barcelona) is booked for standing on the foot of Casemiro.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Barca to take the lead as Alba is picked out by a wonderful Messi pass, but the left-back volleys his effort just wide of the post!
Real Madrid impressively play their way out of a tight situation, but Messi's press eventually forces the away side into a mistake as we approach the half-time break.
SAVE! Another smart save from Ter Stegen to keep out a true strike from Valverde.
Real Madrid survive a dangerous moment inside their own box as Suarez's low cross causes all sorts of problems, but the away side manage to clear their lines.
YELLOW CARD! Lenglet (Barcelona) is booked for a foul on Isco.
HALF TIME: BARCELONA 0-0 REAL MADRID
So there we have it; the referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 0-0. Both sides have had chances to make the breakthrough, but an entertaining first 45 minutes finishes all square. More of the same in the second period plus goals, please.
STATISTICS! Barca just shaded the first-half possession with 51%, while they had three attempts, just one of which was on target. Real Madrid actually had 12 attempts in the first half, with four of those on target. All three yellow cards have come for the Spanish champions with Lenglet and Suarez booked late in the half after Rakitic had his name taken in the 21st minute.
BENCH WATCH! Real Madrid have a lot of attacking talent on their bench tonight with Jovic, Modric, Vinicius and Rodrygo all capable of making an impact. Barca, meanwhile, also have plenty of quality in the shape of Busquets, Alena, Fati, Perez and Vidal.
KICKOFF: Barca resume the action on home soil...
... no changes from either manager at the break, which is not much of a surprise. However, both Valverde and Zidane are likely to have alterations in mind for the second half here.
Ramos is almost put in trouble as the last defender against Roberto, but the centre-back manages to deal with the pressure and clear down-field. Not too much to report in terms of attacking moments in the second half, but the tempo is again high here.
Vidal has been sent to warm up for the home side, and it would not be a surprise to see the Chile international at some point tonight. Messi has just been brought to the ground by Casemiro, and the midfielder is a touch fortunate to escape a booking here.
Both teams have enjoyed little spells with the ball in the last couple of minutes, but we have not had a clear chance since the half-time break. You do get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - could be the winner based on what has happened thus far.
Vidal will soon enter the field for the home side. Rakitic off?
SHOT! Valverde has a shot from distance deflected wide of the Barca post.
BARCELONA SUB! Vidal replaces Semedo for the home side.
As expected, Roberto has dropped into the right-back spot with Vidal slotting into midfield alongside De Jong and Rakitic. Interesting to see that Busquets is still on the bench. No movement on the sidelines for Real Madrid at the moment as the second half develops.
Isco continues to get on the ball for the visitors, who will be delighted with their work in the first 60 minutes. But so much could change in the final third of this contest.
CHANCE! Huge chance for Barca to take the lead as Griezmann squeezes a low cross into Messi, but the Argentine fails to make proper contact and the chance is gone!
Messi will be kicking himself following that missed chance. Suarez actually went down in the box shortly after under a challenge from Ramos but play continued.
Modric and Rodrygo have both been sent to warm up for the away side, and it will be fascinating to see how Zidane uses his bench in the final 25 minutes of this contest.
Griezmann has a shot blocked by Ramos and Madrid can break forward again. Benzema carries the ball before feeding Valverde, but Alba is across to make the clearance.
YELLOW CARD! Casemiro (Real Madrid) is booked for a foul on Suarez.
Messi fires a free kick straight into the wall as Madrid survive a dangerous free kick outside their box. Still goalless with little over 20 minutes of the second half remaining here.
CHANCE! Big chance for Real Madrid as Valverde feeds the ball into Bale inside the Barca box, but the attacker strikes into the side-netting. Should have scored there!
We are just entering the stage of the match where Zidane will be thinking about alterations. Rodrygo and Modric would surely be the two in Zidane's thoughts.
YELLOW CARD! Bale (Real Madrid) is booked for a foul on Griezmann.
SAVE! Good stop from Courtois to keep out a powerful strike from De Jong.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Bale has the ball in the back of the net, but the flag is raised!
DISALLOWED GOAL! Bale turned a low Mendy cross into the back of the net, but the flag was raised. The check is just taking place, and it did look very close from the angle we have seen.
DISALLOWED GOAL! No goal, play continues.
SHOT! Suarez curls over the Real Madrid crossbar after a quick break.
YELLOW CARD! Isco (Real Madrid) is booked for a foul on Griezmann.
YELLOW CARD! Ramos (Real Madrid) is now booked for chopping Messi to the ground.
REAL MADRID SUBS! Rodrygo and Modric replace Isco and Valverde here.
We are into the final 10 minutes of normal time at Camp Nou, and you do get the feeling that something big is going to happen in the final exchanges of this fascinating clash.
Medical assistance is needed on the field as Lenglet and Bale clash heads inside the Barca box, which brings to an end Real Madrid's latest attack.
BARCELONA SUB! Fati replaces Griezmann for the home side.
Little over five minutes of the second half remaining, and the referee has just come across to allow both Lenglet and Bale back onto the field following treatment.
Smart work from Fati sees the attacker break down the left before delivering a low cross towards Messi, but Carvajal is on hand to make the block. Still goalless at Camp Nou.
Fati has been sensational since entering the field, but the attacker has just lost the ball in a dangerous position and Bale picked out Benzema before the danger was cleared.
Fati finds Suarez inside the Real Madrid box, but Ramos is on hand to make the block. We are about to head into stoppage time at Camp Nou with the score still goalless.
We are into the first of five additional minutes at Camp Nou.
YELLOW CARD! Carvajal (Real Madrid) is booked for a foul on Fati.
Barca are the team on the front foot as we head into the final moments, but the home side just cannot seem to fashion a chance. Little over a minute of football left tonight.
Time is almost up and the ball isn't near either goal. It does appear that the spoils are going to be shared in El Clasico, which is not a bad result for either side it must be said.
FULL TIME: BARCELONA 0-0 REAL MADRID
So there we have it. The referee blows the final whistle with the score at 0-0. Both teams had chances to make the breakthrough during the contest, but the stalemate means that Barca remain top of La Liga
on goal difference heading into the final matchday of 2019.
That is just about it from me tonight, but I shall leave you with the match report
from what was an entertaining clash despite the lack of goals. Thanks for joining us once again!