Real Madrid has to think that this is the time. Los Blancos are firing on all cylinders, winning 15 matches on the trot in all competitions. Nevertheless, Barcelona enters the Bernabeu with the confidence born of seeming to always know how to turn back the Madrid tide. They also have Messi, which always helps. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is currently tied atop the scoring ranks with the Catalan talisman with 17 goals thus far.
Regardless of the outcome, this edition of el Clasico should go a long way toward determining the next La Liga champion. The teams take the pitch with Madrid holding the top spot on the league table and a three-point cushion. Needless to say, this result has the potential to affect the feel of the entire race.
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Madrid 1-0 Barcelona, Benzema
Madrid 1 - 1 Barcelona, Sanchez
Barcelona 2 - 1 Madrid, Xavi (off Marcello)
Barcelona 3 - 1 Madrid, Fabregas
The game, essentially, ends on Ronaldo's meek free kick. Barca have gone top of La Liga table. It's a brand new day in the Catalan capital but a long night in Madrid.
It goes wide to Benzema but nothing doing. And FIN
A hard charging, Ronaldo is blocked by Piquet. Whistle and a last-gasp free kick from a splendid position. Some pushing and shoving going on.
|@ gareth_wheeler : Real Madrid have tried everything and were always second best today. No shame in being the 2nd best club team in world football. #elclasico|
|@ SurrealFootball : A defeat for Real, but they're far, far closer than they were a year or two ago.|
|@ AnfieldIndex : Iniesta is running rings around Madrid tonight! And his night is over. And I'm switching this off now!|
Pedro on. Splendid performance
With more mesmeric play but some more last-ditch defending.
But should have shot. Barca pushing for a fourth goal in numbers. Madrid only playing on counter.
|@ FCBarcelona : Min. 85: Casillas surely saves another goal! Iniesta's shot is brilliantly saved by Madrid's keeper. #ForçaBarça|
Messi and Iniesta cause a mess in front of Madrid goal with passing but Iker deflects and defenders muck it up enough that no one can poke home.
Kaka showing that seemingly languid brilliance that he has in creating enough space to fire a belter at Valdez, he kicks it just wide of far post.
|@ jouracule : Andrés Iniesta: part Bakero, Guardiola and Michael Laudrup. A work of art, a magical illusion & above all else a joy to watch. No one better|
|@ Sleepy_Nik : Barca simply too good. Real couldn't keep up intensity as they did in CdR final|
Iniesta makes another terrific run and drops it of to Sanchez but he has it taken off him.
Argentine again tries to push Sanchez on close-range through ball but it's picked out.
The Brazilian goes deep to endline and tries to push across but the ball is smothered (hand?) by Puyol.
That Benzema effort seems to have ignited Madrid.
After cutting in toward net, he shoots but it whistles just wide, low.
A diving effort from point blank range turns to nothing but terrific effort. But here come Madrid...
In the last few minutes, this match has reverted to older versions of matchup. Tickka Tackka and whinging from Barca and late fouls and counters from Madrid.
For a team that has impressed with its work rate and pressure up the field, Madrid midfield seems uninterested in getting back to defend Barca counter.
A reckless, two-footed challenge on Messi (he leaps mostly over and is unscathed) from Ramos earns a yellow. That was very reminiscent of the Marcello tackle on Fabregas from SuperCopa earlier this year. Frustration.
On the counter off Ronaldo shocker, Alvez swings across a ball and Fabregas SCORES on a diving header at close range. What a stunning swing from the moment when Ronaldo rose for that ball to now.
Ronaldo gets the ball on his head in space. He rises and nods down but WIDE of a net. Valdez was frozen. That's the second gilt-edge change he's missed.