19th December, 2019
Real Madrid battled to a 0-0 draw against Barcelona in the latest installment of El Clasico on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou.
It was the first scoreless result between the two storied rivals since November 2002 in a match that saw Los Blancos deliver a good performance against a Barcelona side that never was able to get their attack in gear.
Nevertheless, the visitors from the capital were also lacking in the final third and saw their winless streak continue against the Catalan side.
Initially, Ivan Rakitic was left out of Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde’s starting XI, but then was penciled in for Sergio Busquets after what appeared to be a clerical error.
Another big move was Sergi Roberto pushing forward into the centre of the park, while Nelson Semedo manned the right-back position.
On the other side, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane handed a start to Gareth Bale up top with Karim Benzema, while Isco joined in midfield and Ferland Mendy got the nod due to the injury of left-back Marcelo.
Real Madrid’s high press was making life difficult for Barcelona and Los Blancos had the better of things in the first half hour, punctuated by a Casemiro header that was cleared off the line at the last moment by Gerard Pique.
Real Madrid’s aggressiveness almost led to a penalty when Ivan Rakitic was seen gabbing Raphael Varane’s shirt on a corner kick, but no whistle was forthcoming from referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez.
The home side finally managed to carve out a chance via a counter attack and Messi had goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat, but not Sergio Ramos, who cleared the Argentine’s shot off the line.
But the best chance for either side came shortly before the break when a perfectly floated pass from Messi found the in-stride Jordi Alba, but the left-back’s shot went just wide of the far post.
It was all Real Madrid at the start of the second stanza, with Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann rendered to spectator status.
Valverde was forced into a re-think, so Arturo Vidal came on for Semedo, moving Sergi Roberto back into his customary full-back role.
The change opened things up at both ends temporarily, but Barcelona were unable to pick Real Madrid’s defensive lock, while the visitors lacked that cutting edge in the final third when they broke in transition.
Bale thought he had nabbed a goal off a cross from Mendy, but the French defender was correctly adjudged to be offside when he received a pass during the build-up.
Zidane turned to his bench late, bringing on Luka Modric and Rodrygo for Fede Valverde and Isco, respectively.
Valverde then countered by switching off Griezmann and giving youngster Ansu Fati a crack at being the hero.
But, on this day no Superman cape would be worn by any of the 22 players on the pitch, as every chance went up in smoke, forcing the two sides to settle for a point.
0.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Vidal, min. 55), Pique, Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Busquets, De Jong, Sergi Roberto; Griezmann (Ansu Fati, min. 83), Luis Suarez, Messi
0.- Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Valverde (Modric, min. 80), Isco (Rodrygo, min. 80); Bale, Benzema
Referee: Hernandez Hernandez (Las Palmas).
Yellow Cards: Rakitic (Min. 21) for Barcelona, Suarez (Min. 40) for Barcelona, Lenglet (Min. 45) for Barcelona, Casemiro (Min. 66) for Real Madrid, Bale (Min. 70) for Real Madrid, Isco (Min. 76) for Real Madrid, Ramos (Min. 78) for Real Madrid, Carvajal (Min. 92) for Real Madrid
Red cards: None
Stadium: Camp Nou