For anyone who doesn't think that the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid is fiercer than the enmity shared between the Yankees and Red Sox please note that New York agreed to wear throwback uniforms for the first time in franchise history to help Boston fete Fenway Park on Friday. According to The Associated Press, the Yankees had never deigned to participate in the throwback trend.
Would Madrid ever go against a tradition for Barcelona?
Unlike the centennial bash at Fenway Park, there will be no pomp at the Nou Camp on Saturday. But there will be loads of circumstance. Both Spanish teams are walking a tightrope, trying to keep domestic and European goals balanced as they progress down the line.
Shockingly, both Spanish titans enter the second legs of their respective Champions League semifinals with ground to make up. The threat (although hardly the likelihood, given the scoring prowess of each club) of being dumped from the competition before the Final only heightens the importance of capturing La Liga.
Not long ago, Madrid's lead appeared impregnable but Barcelona has surged forward, picking up nearly every point dropped by Los Merengues down the stretch of the campaign. At kick off, these longstanding rivals are separated by just four points. If Madrid can manage a win then they'll likely go on to win the domestic title. But if Barcelona can do what it has done so often under Pep Guardiola -- beat Madrid -- then a mere point will remain between these teams as they thunder through the last few fixtures on the schedule.
In case, this wasn't enough drama, there is also the scoring race being contested by Messi and Ronaldo. Both have already scored 41 goals during the season, already surpassing the single-season mark that Ronaldo established last year. So, yeah, there's even more on the line.
Will either of these icons strike the decisive blow?
STAY TUNED FOR LIVE UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE GAME:
Alexis Equalizes For Barcelona In 70th Minute
|@ BarcaTheOffside : Barça passing was very inaccurate to start with, particularly in the midfield, and our attack lacked incisiveness. Defence did well, though.|
While the remaining games on Madrid's schedule must be handled, Los Merengues hold a seven-point cushion with four games to play and have the title their for them to grab.
Coming into Camp Nou on Saturday, Madrid had not notced a Liga victory over their rival since Pep Guardiola became coach in 2008. To re-take control of the league in this fashion, on this pitch, and against this side, is epic for them. That Ronaldo was able to net the winner, beautifully, (to go ahead of Messi in the goal-scoring as well) makes the triumph all the more meaningful.
And, in the word of Ray Hudson, there will be some "major hoochie coochie going on in the bedrooms of madrid tonight."
Ronaldo is foiled by Alves on a cross at the goal line.
Benzema off as the everyone waits for the final whistle. Ronaldo standing over a free kick.. he launches it into the seats.
Hudson just lost me..
And Cesc gets to it in the air but his header is far, wide and no trouble for Madrid. He jogs back with his head down. While there should be a few minutes of extra time, the allotted 90 is nearing an end.
It's deflected away from CR7 in the air but Madrid keeps it in. Another corner coming and more time going...
Barcelona play a corner kick small and eventually work the ball out and up to Mascherano. He belts a shot that is going out and up over the bar from the jump. Approaching 85 minutes...
Barca had been at the gates for the bulk of the half but Madrid is no getting forward and attacking again, inspired by that goal. As we get beyond 80 minutes, both teams look to be going for goals.
|@ OptaJose : 17 - Ozil has now assisted more goals for Cristiano Ronaldo than any other player (Giggs 16, all comps). Partners|
Ronaldo leaps for the bike but is in a crowd and is called for dangerous play.
Ozil lines up to take it. He picks up a yellow for taking his time.
Much complaining from both parties but that was always a foul on the Barca man.
Wow.. "This one is a death ray from Real Madrid's glamour boy." A brilliant run and a brilliant strike from CR7 and Madrid is back in front. That is BIG goal from a guy with a rep for not scoring them.
A series of saves stops a first effort.. and then a second.. but Alexis gets rebound to go at close range with quick reaction.
In a frenetic, slap-dash attack that actually manages to shut up Ray Hudson for a few moments, Alexis gets a rebound into the net.
But Barcelona wins it back and the attack commences again. Thiago passes of to Xavi at his right hip. Xavi whistles one across the goal and just wide. Sizzling shot.
But Coentroa is down after taking Alves' cross off the side of his head. The stretcher is out. Everyone standing about.
After muscling his way free, the Frenchman sends a prayer pass center toward Ronaldo as he loses his balance. Barca has it back.
It's all Barcelona right now. As the clock tick past 64th minute, they're passing it about the middle of the park. Many white shirts behind the ball in a purely reactionary posture.
|@ GoalUSA : 60' Madrid under siege in the last 10 minutes, but Barca hasn't shown its goalscoring touch. Still 1-0 #ElClasico|
Ramos wins the ball and Messi's momentum takes him right into him. Pepe shoves Messi as he checks on Ramos.
Another non-foul on Messi earns him a call. The side judge waves flag furiously, incorrectly.
The rain seems to have lifted the voices of the crowd. Barcelona controlling possession, pushing forward. Madrid weathering the storm thus far. With this much pressure, though, a goal would seemingly be coming. Of course, Tello might have other ideas..