The main goal of the protests is to get pain’s government to negotiate on Catalonia’s right to self-determination and independence from Spain and to achieve freedom for the separatists who were jailed.
The main goal of the protests is to get pain’s government to negotiate on Catalonia’s right to self-determination and independence from Spain and to achieve freedom for the separatists who were jailed.
The fixture that football fans around the world unite in to glue their eyes towards.
Over the years it has had drama, passion, two of the world’s greatest ever players regularly partaking in it, and more often than not, football of the highest order with goals galore.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have been the top two sides in La Liga for sometime, however, they do say the form book goes out of the window for derby clashes, right? Well, having not beaten La Blaugrana in the league in their last six attempts, during which time La Liga has been won twice by Barça, perhaps that isn’t so.
Either way it was sure to be an engrossing clash at Camp Nou, with both sides level pegging atop the division heading into Wednesday night’s clash.
So, who was going to start for either side? How were the teams going to setup? And…more importantly, was a golfer going to get the nod over youth?
A disappointing Clasico ended goalless at Camp Nou on Wednesday night, keeping Barcelona at the top of La Liga despite Real Madrid producing an accomplished and disciplined performance.
Both sides went close inside the opening 30 minutes, with Karim Benzema having a shot cleared off of the line by Gerard Pique before Sergio Ramos performed a similar action to deny Lionel Messi.
The draw means Barça keep top spot ahead of the weekend, though both sides will know further slip-ups must not occur in what is set to be one of Europe’s more exciting title races in the second half of the season.
Key Talking Point
The pressure piling on Ernesto Valverde had been alleviated somewhat by a run of four La Liga victories in a row, but the draw with Real Sociedad on Saturday left Barça needing to beat Real to give themselves a more comfortable cushion at the top of Spain’s top flight.
But for the most part Barça failed to get their most influential players involved in their attacking build-up. While Messi was bright throughout, neither Luis Suarez nor Antoine Griezmann could get themselves in situations that really threatened Real.
That’ll be concerning for Valverde, even if his side have scored ten more goals than Real in the league this season.
Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Semedo (6), Pique (8), Lenglet (7), Alba (6); Roberto (6), Rakitic (5), De Jong (5); Messi (7), Suarez (5), Griezmann (5).
Substitutes: Vidal (6), Fati (5).
STAR PLAYER – Gerard Pique has reestablished himself as one of the world’s best centre backs after a few ropey seasons, and it was another accomplished performance from the former Spain international on Wednesday night.
Karim Benzema,Gerard Pique
His goal-line clearance early on demonstrated immense positional awareness, and he was able to ensure spells of Real pressure always ended without any firm final product.
Key Talking Point
An inauspicious start to the season seemingly ruled Real out of having a credible shot at the La Liga title, but slip-ups from other teams and a good run of form that has seen Los Blancos lose just once since October saw Real come into Wednesday night’s clash level on points with their hosts.
And given that Real’s players could have been slightly intimidated by the scenes outside Camp Nou before the game, Zidane will be relatively happy to see his side leave Catalonia with a point.
Real effectively limited Barça’s attacking output and had more than their fair share of chances, with Gareth Bale hitting the side-netting when well placed to test Thibaut Courtois in the second half, while Benzema hit the woodwork in the 64th minute.
Starting XI: Courtois (6); Carvajal (7), Varane (7), Ramos (7), Mendy (6); Valverde (8), Casemiro (7), Kroos (7); Bale (6), Benzema (6), Isco (6).
Substitutes: Rodrygo (5), Modric (5).
STAR PLAYER – This Federico Valverde could be brilliant, y’know.
Antoine Griezmann,Federico Valverde
The Uruguayan has been one of Los Blancos’ standout performers so far this season in the semi-regular absence of Luka Modric, who has struggled with injury throughout the campaign and was stuck on the bench on Wednesday by Zidane.
His battle with Barcelona’s shiny, ex-Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong was one of the more intriguing battles of the evening, and it was one Valverde won for the most part, limiting the Dutchman’s forward forays to give the visitors more of a platform in midfield.
Casemiro was also instrumental in ensuring Barça were rarely able to build up too much momentum in their attacking movements during the first hour of the contest.
The two teams will play their last matches before the winter break at the weekend, with Barcelona hosting Alaves on Saturday before Real Madrid entertain Athletic Club on Sunday,
The world’s best player takes part in the world’s biggest game – at club level, at least – on Wednesday, as Lionel Messi faces Real Madrid for the 42nd time in his career.
Should he feature at Camp Nou as expected, the 2019 Ballon d’Or winner will equal Xavi Hernandez for the most appearances ever in El Clásico for a Barcelona player. However, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, barring any last-minute injury problems, will take his own tally to 43 outings – the most of any player on either side.
Interestingly, Barça’s number 10 has actually gone three games against Real Madrid without scoring or assisting (he’s never gone on a streak of four matches) but remains the all-time top scorer in El Clásico, with 26 strikes in total – well ahead of legendary Madrid trio Alfredo di Stefano, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raúl.
All-Time Top Goalscorers – El Clásico
Club Player Liga Cup Super Cup European Total
Barcelona Lionel Messi 18 0 6 2 26
Real Madrid Alfredo Di Stéfano 14 2 2 0 18
Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo 9 5 4 0 18
Real Madrid Raúl González 11 0 3 1 15
Perhaps unsurprisingly, no player has more assists than Messi in the fixture’s history either (14).
Messi’s Clásico story began way back in November 2004, when the then-17-year-old was included on the bench for a 3-0 win at Camp Nou.
An equally fresh-faced Andres Iniesta came off the bench in the second half for Henrik Larsson but Messi – who had made his La Liga debut just a month prior – watched from the dugout as Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o tore Madrid’s backline apart.
One year later, almost to the day, Messi started in his first Clásico appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Now 18, Messi sparkled on the right of the front three, tormenting a side that featured David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ramos – the latter of whom gave the young Argentine an early shoulder check in what would be the start of many battles to come.
Messi registered the first of his Clásico assists that day, with Eto’o almost pinching the ball off the toe of the youngster as he danced into the 18-yard-box, before poking home for the first in another 3-0 win.
It took another 14 months for the first of Messi’s goals against Real Madrid.
In March 2007, Messi – who had missed the previous season’s fixture through injury – made up for lost time by bagging a magical hat-trick in his first-ever Clásico appearance at Camp Nou.
The 3-3 draw marked the teenage Messi’s coming of age performance in some respects, with his darting, weaving and ruthless finishing amping up the Diego Maradona comparisons all the way to 11.
As noted by Sid Lowe in the Guardian the day after the game, one newspaper ran a ‘Spot the Difference’ cartoon showing Maradona and Messi side by side, next to a caption that read, ‘Don’t kill yourself trying – there is no difference.’
Barcelona’s Argentinian Lionel Messi (C)
After that hat-trick, the goals continued with regularity. However, the only other hat-trick (to date) came in the barn-burning 2014 La Liga encounter at the Bernabeu, as Messi scored an 84th-minute penalty to complete his treble and seal a 4-3 win.
Among the Argentine’s most memorable displays include a double in the 6-2 humbling of Madrid in 2009, as Messi played as a ‘false nine’ to devastating effect in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.
“It was a plan that Pep Guardiola had come up with especially for this match in order for us to be our most effective,” Messi told FourFourTwo in 2017. “Those big matches can go either way, and I’ve been in games where we’ve conceded four goals to Real and others where we have scored six. It was a fantastic performance from the whole team. I’m not sure whether it was the best, but it’s certainly a match that we will always remember and cherish.”
In the spring of 2011 – during an ill-tempered but historic period as Guardiola’s Barcelona and Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid faced off four times in the space of three weeks – Messi again scored twice to decide the Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu single-handedly.
His magnificent solo effort as he takes the ball of Sergio Busquets’ toe and jets past Lassana Diarra, Ramos, Raul Albiol and Marcelo before sliding past Iker Casillas remains one of the great Champions League goals.
Undoubtedly, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s other standout moment in Clásico history came in 2017 as he lashed in a 92nd-minute winner to secure a 3-2 win at the Bernabeu, before celebrating by holding his shirt up and presenting it to the crowd.
Barcelona lost out in La Liga and the Champions League that year with Real Madrid taking both, but Messi had proved a point on an individual level. He was the king of the Clásico.
Home or Away
Perhaps curiously, 15 of Messi’s 26 Clásico goals (11 out of 18 in La Liga) have come at the Bernabeu, which has been a happy hunting ground for the world’s best player.
Messi’s apparent preference for playing away against Madrid is shared by the rest of the Barça team with the club’s best results in recent seasons often coming away from home.
Curiously, Messi has scored just once at home against Real Madrid since 2012 (excluding the Supercopa). Perhaps even more bizarrely, the last time he netted in a home league victory in El Clásico? 2008.
Messi told MARCA prior to December’s Clásico: “When we play at the Bernabeu, many more spaces are generated. They attack us more because they have the obligation as the host team and people push them for that.
“At the Camp Nou they play another type of match, sitting a little further back, they are closer together and hit on the counter-attack because they have very fast players up front. At the Bernabeu we play 90 minutes equally. Here the game becomes more locked and is more complicated.”
Real Madrid v Galatasaray: Group A – UEFA Champions League
With nothing separating Barça and Real at the top of La Liga and the winter break to follow, Wednesday’s meeting has extra bite – as if it needed it amid the off-field issues involving the rescheduling of the fixture and the threat of further disruption caused by the ‘Tsunami Democràtic’ planned protests.
On the pitch, Barcelona also have the chance to overtake Real Madrid in the head-to-head record for the most La Liga wins in Clásico history (currently both teams have 72 wins).
Wednesday promises to be a historic encounter for one reason or another.
It would be unusual if Messi didn’t have a say.
Barcelona and Real Madrid will lock horns tonight in what is easily the most watched league game in the world. Initially, the two Spanish giants were expected to lock horns together by October but the match was rescheduled due to security concerns in Catalonia.
Both sides are levelled on the same points with the goal difference separating them. These are strong reasons why the Catalans, who are at home, may defeat the Los Blancos:
* Lionel Messi factor
Barcelona captain, Lionel Messi, will play a crucial role in his team winning the match. Over the past years, the Argentinian has produced fantastic performances and scored some incredible goals against Madrid. When Messi is at his best, it is difficult to put a stop to him from producing great play, scoring and assisting a goal. The coach of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane will look for possible ways to stop the Barcelona number 10 from being at his possible best. He is the highest goal scorer of El Clasico with 26 to his credit.
The El Clasico match has produced so many goals between these two top Spanish teams. In the last three outings between these two teams, Barcelona has always edged them.
In the Copa Del Rey semi final match back in March, the Catalan giants and Los Blancos played a 1-1 draw but in the second leg Barcelona outclassed them by 3-0. Also in La Liga, the team made sure they clinched a vital win from their opponent through an Ivan Rakitic strike.
In the last transfer market, Barcelona strengthened by signing Frenkie De Jong from Ajax and Antonie Griezmann from Atletico Madrid. These new signings have been instrumental in the Catalans quest for La Liga title and would see them take part in their first ever El clasico match.
Griezmann, who started life at Barcelona slowly, has begun to get back to his old self grabbing a goal in Barcelona’s 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad last Saturday. Also, De Jong has been superb with Barcelona in his first campaign, creating brilliant plays and also help the ageing Busquets in the team.
Conversely, none of Madrid new signings have settled down that well to make impact in the team.
La Masia talents
FC Barcelona is widely known in the world for producing young talented players and promoting them to the first team. The duo of Carles Perez and Ansu Fati have proved influential to the team whenever they are called to represent the colours of Barcelona. Young Fati proved instrumental in Barça’s win against Inter Milan in the last group stage match of the UCL by sealing Barça’s win and sending Inter to the Europa league.
Likewise Perez, who got a goal earlier in the game, would likely feature as substitutes in their first ever El Clasico.
* Valverde dominance
Barcelona’s coach, Ernesto Valverde, is a El-Clasico expert, having lost only one of the more than eight fixtures since he took over two years ago.
The 5-1 defeat of Real Madrid in October 2018 without Messi in Bernabeu led to the sack of Coach Julien Lopetugui. Valverde may falter in other games but he has a way of motivating his team to win the El-Clasico. He may well wield the magic wand again tonight.
Barcelona will be looking to make it eight straight wins in all competitions when they travel to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad on Saturday afternoon.
Overall, this is a tough, tough fixture for Barça with one eye on El Clásico in the week. But, their form and the fact that some of their key men got rests during the week means they should get something from this one. A draw wouldn’t be surprising at all.
…takes Barca to court
PSG striker, Neymar is taking his former club, Barcelona to court for £2.9m in unpaid wages from his previous four-year stay at the Spanish club.
The 27-year-old Brazilian footballer who signed for Barcelona in 2013 from Brazilian club Santos has accused Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu of acting with ‘absolute bad faith’ since he joined the Ligue 1 champions for a world-record £198m fee in 2017.
According to Spanish outlet El Mundo, Neymar now believes he is owed £2.9m (€3.5m) in unpaid wages in addition to the £36.2m (€43.6m) he thinks he is owed via a renewal bonus.
The report also details that Barcelona believe they are owed money from selling Neymar, ”due to the first part of a renewal bonus, alongside £7m (€8.5m) in damages and interest.”
In an interview with Cadena Ser, Neymar Santos Sr, who serves as an agent to his son, said that the action was part of the original suit and expressed optimism that everything would be settled amicably.
“It’s a demand about his termination when he left the club,” Neymar’s father said, adding that ”Neither Barcelona nor us are worried. We will solve this situation.”
With the current court battle, It’s now unclear if Neymar will return to Barcelona despite rumors in the summer linking him with a return to the Nou Camp.
…says he will remain in Lille
Lille coach Christophe Galtier has come out to speak on the future of Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen.
Osimhen who has scored 11 goals in 21 games across all competitions this season has also established himself as one of Africa’s in-demand strikers, scoring four goals in his last four appearances for his motherland, Nigeria and was recently nominated for the 2019 African Youth Player of the Year award by the Confederation of African Football.
Barcelona need a replacement for Luis Suarez while Arsenal need a new striker incase Aubameyang leaves but Galtier insists Osimhen will remain at the club when the January transfer window closes for business.
Asked if the former Sporting Chaleroi striker Osimhen will stay until the end of the season, Galtier told media : ”
Yes, I believe so. But in football, nothing is safe. I can confirm this with regard to the weeks that have just passed”.
Osimhen and his teammates will visit Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League.
…expresses his dissatisfaction as mane finished as 4th
Lionel Messi has expressed his dissatisfaction after Senegalese and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings earlier this week.
The Barcelona superstar won the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time in his career in Paris on Monday, after edging out Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the gong. Sadio Mane came fourth while Mohamed Salah was placed in fifth.
Messi who voted Mane as his preferred candidate for The Best award, has now praised the Liverpool forward, saying It’s a shame to see that he finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or ranking.
‘It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place,’ Messi told Canal+.
‘But I think there have been a lot of great players this year. That’s why it was difficult to choose a particular player. But I chose Sadio Mane (for The Best award) because he’s a player that I like.
‘Mane achieved a great year that was exceptional for the entire Liverpool team. That’s why I chose him.
‘I repeat, there were a lot of very great players this year, so the choice was difficult.’
Sergio Ramos scored a goal and conceded a penalty as Real Madrid battled past Alaves on Saturday to go top of La Liga before Sunday’s game between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Barca and Atletico face off at the Wanda Metropolitano and Madrid did all they could to take advantage, with Dani Carvajal the unlikely match winner in a gritty 2-1 victory over Alaves.
“We know at these grounds that teams give everything against Madrid,” said Marcelo. “It’s in these matches that leagues are won.”
“We fought until the end,” added Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.
Ramos had headed them in front shortly after half-time only to concede a needless penalty for throwing his arm across Joselu, which Lucas Perez converted before Carvajal poked in.
Madrid pull three points clear of Barcelona and six ahead of Atletico, who have played a game more than the top two. Sevilla, in third, host Leganes on Sunday. Alaves stay 13th.
A 1-0 defeat at Mendizorrotza 13 months ago came three weeks before Julen Lopetegui was sacked as a coach but this time Madrid showed the kind of steel that was so painfully lacking last season.
On a wet and windy afternoon in the Basque country, Zidane’s side never showed the verve and creativity that was so impressive in the draw against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
But this was a gutsy performance that means they have now won six and drawn two of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the Clasico against Barcelona next month fast approaching.
“A few weeks ago people were saying a lot about this team,” said Zidane. “But we have to stay the same, stay calm and keep working because this is just the start.”
Gareth Bale made his first Madrid start since October 5 after recovering from a calf injury and his first too since his controversial celebration with Wales earlier this month, which sparked anger among his club’s supporters.
Bale hit the post in the first half but faded and was replaced by Rodrygo after Alaves’ equaliser.
With Eden Hazard out injured, Isco also kept his place while Alphonse Areola was given a rare outing in goal ahead of the rested Thibaut Courtois.
Kroos The Provider
Madrid were lucky not to concede another penalty early on as Aleix Vidal slalomed inside Ramos and then Eder Militao, whose dangling leg caught Vidal’s foot. Referee Guillermo Cuadra felt the fall was exaggerated.
At the other end, Bale hit the post with a header and Karim Benzema latched onto a quick throw but instead of shooting, hooked the ball back for Isco whose effort was saved.
Alaves grew in confidence as the rain grew heavier yet Madrid regrouped at half-time and took the lead soon after as Ramos was given a free header to glance in Toni Kroos’ crossed free-kick.
But after scoring his sixth goal of the season, Ramos gifted Alaves an equaliser in the 66th minute by outmuscling Joselu in the penalty area, only to throw an arm across the forward’s chest. Perez made no mistake.
Bale went off for Rodrygo and Alaves might have been able to build on their momentum if they had consolidated.
Instead, parity lasted three minutes as Isco met Luka Modric’s cross at the back post and while Pacheco did brilliantly to save, Carvajal reacted faster than Victor Laguardia to the rebound.
Perez almost drove in a late equaliser but Marcelo made a diving block and Ximo Navarro’s header had to be clawed away by Areola as Madrid held on.
Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele was ruled out of action for 10 weeks with a right hamstring injury on Friday, sidelining the French international from next month’s Clasico clash against Real Madrid, the Spanish champions said.
The 22-year-old suffered the injury in the first half of Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
“A medical examination has confirmed that Ousmane Dembele has suffered an injury to his right hamstring. His estimated layoff time is approximately 10 weeks,” said a Barcelona statement.
Dembele, who has struggled with injury setbacks this season, has played only eight times for the Spanish giants in the current campaign with just one goal scored in La Liga.
Barcelona will face bitter rivals Real Madrid on December 18.