Madrid claim Clásico honours in pulsating Camp Nou clash
Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid: El Clásico as it happened
Decent day for Zidane and his men
Alfredo Relaño's view of the game.
Former ref has say on penalty calls
Former top-class referee and AS contributor, Iturralde González, spoke about the two big decisions made for and against the Real Madrid captain in the Camp Nou win.
Ronald Koeman was handed another reminder that a storied career as a player is not always a guarantee of a soft landing as a manager as his work-in-progress Barcelona side were on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid in Camp Nou. In the days leading up to the first Clásico of the season it had been Zinedine Zidane who was walking the line after successive losses to Cádiz and Shakhtar but over the course of 90 breathless minutes the Frenchman emerged with his reputation enhanced at his counterpart’s expense.
The visitors were not brilliant – they simply took their chances when they came and played to their strengths in a compact 4-4-2. Madrid also benefited from a penalty decision from which few came out well in the replay. Not Clément Lenglet, who helped himself to a chunk of Sergio Ramos’ shirt, nor the Madrid captain, who hurled himself to the turf after contact had ceased. VAR intervened and ruled penalty. Ramos duly dispatched it to make it 2-1.
Fede Valverde had opened the scoring only for Ansu Fati to cancel out the opener two minutes later and it appeared for a brief instant as if a pools-busting scoreline was on the cards. Neto was instrumental in ensuring Barça remained in the game until the 90th minute when Luka Modric found the net with cool precision after Madrid enjoyed the rub of the green following the keeper’s dash from the line.
Barcelona also had their opportunities but a combination of Thibaut Courtois, who has shrugged off the question marks of last season, some astute defending and the occasional wrong decision from the hosts – such as when Ansu could have squared for Leo Messi – conspired against Koeman’s side. A half-hearted appeal for a penalty against Varane was denied and in the final 15 minutes Madrid were in the ascendancy as the game ebbed away from Barça.
It fell to Modric, a substitute on the day, to have the final word. Doing what Vinicius could not, the Croatian kept his nerve, bided his time and put the game beyond doubt. As Sergio Ramos said, at Madrid two games is a crisis. It may well be for Koeman: Barça have not suffered back-to-back Liga defeats since 2016.
Barça director Xavi Vilajoana's reaction to the penalty award has been doing the rounds. We won't translate it but the gist is fairly obvious.
Sergio Ramos: "Two games is a crisis at Real Madrid"
"We couldn't allow ourselves to get bogged down in that bad run. It was a shit week but we put the criticism to one side. It's always good to win away at a direct rival. Two games is a crisis at Real Madrid but we have to carry on doing things our way."
Zidane after Madrid victory
"We played a perfect game. It's three points, nothing more. We've faced a lot of criticism over the past few days. We have to remain calm and play the way we want to play. I'm happy for the players. It was a team victory today. I'm proud of my side"
Be that as it may, Koeman's in-game management wasn't particularly coherent. Having targeted Nacho early on the Dutchman failed to respond to the new threat posed by the more attacking minded Lucas Vázquez, with many of Madrid's second half chances coming from that side. Dembélé could have been introduced earlier and Pedri, who was ineffective on the right, removed to add some balance and to hit Madrid from both sides. As it was, a triple substitution throwing on all his attacking players led to little tangible gain.
Koeman: penalty was "incomprehensible"
The Barça manager had his say after the game and suggested that VAR decisions have been going against his side this season. "In five games, I haven't seen one in favour."
No movement for Barcelona after that result. Sevilla, Osasuna, Atlético and Betis all in action later today.
It will be the main talking point in the aftermath of another setback for Ronald Koeman's Barcelona revamp and it was the turning point in the game. Barça had their chances after the penalty but Madrid were equally adventurous on the attack and racked up 15 shots to Barça's 10 by the whistle.
As it stands
And that's it! Real Madrid win 3-1 in Camp Nou to go top overnight!
That's taken the wind out of Barça's sails. The home side were close to equalising but will do very well to get something out of this now. The home side may well feel aggrieved after that penalty decision but Madrid have been more dangerous in the final 15 minutes than their hosts.
Neto, who has had a wonderful game for Barça, comes for a 50-50 with Rodrygo and the ball pops up to the Brazilian, who tees up Modric. The veteran uses all his experience and a cool head to turn Neto twice and clip a shot into the empty net with the outside of his boot!
Dembélé has a chance and thinks he's earned a corner but the ref signals a goal kick. Courtois in no hurry to take it...
Benzema attempts to run it into the corner and concedes a throw. Time running out for Barça here...
Neto again! This time the Brazilian saves from Ramos in extremis!
Neto! The Barça stopper keeps his side in it with an incredible double save from Toni Kroos!
Barça get into a spot of bother at the back and Vinicius almost nicks the ball for Madrid but the home side get it clear. Madrid looking to hang on to possession as much as possible now as the clock runs down.
Rodrygo on for Asensio as well.
Ansu, Pedri, and Busquets off, Trincão, Griezmann and Dembélé on for Barça! Koeman going for it in the final 10!
Barça hammering on the door now as both sides prepare changes.
And another as Dest lifts the ball into the area and Mendy hammers it out as De Jong was shaping for a shot!
Into the wall and out for a corner!
Free kick to Barça in a very decent range for Messi, plum in front of the centre of Courtois' goal.
Messi goes on a solo run through the middle and gets his poor touch returned to him off a Madrid defender, but he loses the ball again trying to take the entire defence out.
What a chance! Messi whips in a low cross and Courtois can only palm it into the path of Piqué. Madrid close the Barça defender down and manage to clear for a corner.
Free kick to Barcelona out on the left...
Trincão out to warm up for Barça.
Messi looks to surprise the Madrid back line with a ball through their high defensive line but Courtois is out like a whippet to hoof the ball into orbit.
The ref waves play on though after a quick word with the eye in the sky.
Coutinho! The Brazilian's shot is blocked and there's a Barça penalty shout now for handball against Varane!
And the Croatian trots on to replace Valverde, who has gone off with an injury.
Corner to Barcelona... Luka Modric preparing to come on.
Barcelona will not be happy about that. Not happy at all. Lenglet did get a handful of Ramos' shirt but the Real defender was going away from goal and the Frenchman had released his grip when Ramos, with suitable theatrics, went to ground.
Gooooooooooooool! Ramos! The Real captain hits it low to Neto's right. The Barça keeper, who was biding his time for a panenka, guesses correctly but can't get a glove to it!
Penalty awarded! Lenglet booked! Goodness... that is quite the decision...
To be frank, it was a bit of a dive from Ramos and we're quite amazed VAR is taking this seriously but the ref is off to the sidelines...
It's a decent delivery from Kroos and Ramos claime he was impeded by Lenglet as he went up for it but the Madrid captain made a bit of a meal of minimal contact. VAR having a look but we doubt it'll come to anything.
Free kick to Madrid out on the right after Dest is picked up for handball.
Decent move from Madrid. Vázquez finds Valverde, who feeds Vinicius first time. The Brazilian lays it off to Benzema but the Frenchman's attempt to find the top corner from outside the area flies over the bar.
Coutinho! The Brazilian has a free header at the far post with Vázquez out of position but glances it just wide of the upright from a few yards out!
Ansu! The youngster almost has a second as his shot whistles past the far post. Messi is not happy though and points out he had made a pretty decent run through the middle.
Madrid patch together an attack and Casemiro has the final word, hammering a shot into the hoardings from distance.
Barça controlling the pig skin at the outset of the second half. Messi tries to turn Vázquez but the Madrid substitute holds firm.
No further changes at half time... when will Zidane and Koeman turn to their benches? We wouldn't be surprised to see Dembélé given a run on the left with stand-in for the stand-in right back Lucas Vázquez patrolling that side of the Real back four.
We're back underway in Camp Nou!
Not much to choose between the sides at the break. Five shots apiece, with four for Barça and three for Madrid on target, possession fairly even at 45-55, pass completion rate 89-90 and 7-8 in tackles.
And that's the half! What an opening 45 in Camp Nou, both sides going at this game hammer and tongs!
Vinicius! What a chance! The Brazilian is clean through and only needs to look up to see Asensio arriving at the far stick but he blasts the ball straight at Neto instead!
Two minutes added to the opening half.
And that's not a bad first touch! Vázquez throws himself at a ball that was headed for Messi and green grass beyond to Courtois' goal, cuts it out and recovers possession for Madrid.
And that's the end of Nacho's afternoon. The Madrid utility man looks like he's picked up a knock or a strain and Lucas Vázquez is on to fill in at right back.
Frenkie de Jong breaks up a Madrid attack with style and launches Barça on the front foot. Nacho thought about taking him down but then remembered he's on a yellow and pulled out of the challenge.
You don't see that very often but it's been that sort of game! Messi tears back towards his own goal and puts in a reducer on Vinicius, perfectly cleanly and approved by the ref!
Dest, who is having a fine game for Barça, denies Vinicius.
Lucas Vázquez and Junior Firpo out on the touchline warming up...
Free for Barça, a fair old distance out... an attempt to take it short comes to nothing and it trickles out for a goal kick.
Chance for Madrid! Casemiro bundles through and slips in the area. He manages to tap the ball back for Benzema whose shot is blocked. Asensio then fails to reach the ricochet before Barça hook it clear.
Messi saw something there as Ansu made a run but the Argentinean's ball was too heavy.
Nice work from Mendy on the Madrid left but his cross thumps into Dest. There was a half-hearted call for handball but it was clubbed straight at the US defender, whose arm was glued to his chest.
Half an hour on the clock and 1-1 it remains in a pulsating Clásico. All thought of either side playing the percentages has gone out of the window in Camp Nou! Nine shots so far and plenty of chances.
Casemiro! He had to get that one right! The Brazilian comes in hard on Messi in the area and just, just gets his foot on the ball before bundling the Argentinean over. Messi looks plaintively towards the ref, who gets the call bang on.
Dest and Pedri are combining well on the right for Barcelona, the American getting forward at every opportunity. He's a much more attacking option than Sergi Roberto but he's also leaving a fair bit of space behind him.
Neto! It's straight up the other end and Benzema is through but the Brazilian also gets a providential hand to the Frenchman's close range effort! It's end to end stuff now!
Courtois! Messi, who is fine by the way, slips in after a Barça break and forces the Belgian into a fine save at the near post!
Barça escape as Neto come for it and slips! The loose ball is hanging there to be hit and Piqué intervenes to hammer it out for another corner.
Corner for Madrid as Benzema's cross is deflected behind by Piqué.
Nice trickery from Mendy on the left but his backheel finds Busquets.
Serious problems for Barcelona now as Messi winces after riding a challenge from Casemiro. There was no contact but it looked as thought the Barça captain landed awkwardly and Griezmann is already warming up as Messi gets some treatment. Casemiro complains vigorously but goes in the book for the initial challenge.
Uffff! Messi jinks through the centre and it looked rather like he'd had his heel clipped there but the ref waves play on.
Madrid looking to stamp some authority on possession now to take the sting out of Barça's attack. Every time the home side have got forward they've looked dangerous. However, Madrid have only had one attack of note and scored from it.
We speculated Barça may target Nacho this afternoon given his lack of game time and that's been the case so far. The canterano could do with some back up on the right.
Alba carves through Madrid's right again and finds Pedri, who is denied by a timely tackle by Ramos in front of goal.
Well, well, this game had produced three goals in 270 Liga minutes prior to today. We've had two inside the opening 10 at Camp Nou.
Madrid clearly haven't watched the video of the Ferencváros game... Ansu was a thorn in the side of the Hungarians cutting in from the left and he was left unattended there in the middle.
Ansu is now officially the youngest player in history to score in a Clásico!
What a start to the game! Jordi Alba drives down the left and squares for Ansu, who sidefoots past Courtois like he''s been doing this all his life!
Vinicius! Another Madrid chance falls to the feet of the Brazilian, who rather inevitably skies his effort under pressure.
It had been a cautious start from Madrid but on their first serious foray forward Benzema clips a lovely ball through to Valverde, who takes advantage of the defence-pulling feint of Asensio to hammer a shot past Neto.
Ufffff! Nice link-up between Messi and Ansu and the Barça captain is almost in until Varane, who reads it well, chucks a boot in the way.
Messi dropping deep already in search of the ball. Pedri is out on the right for Barcelona and Ansu on the left with Coutinho nominally tucked in behind the Argentinean.
We're off! Madrid get the ball rolling in Camp Nou!
The teams are coming out of the tunnel in Camp Nou. It's a glorious day for a spot of football, the sun is shining, it's a splendid º21 and the turf looks a snooker table.
AS English predictions
The moment we've all been waiting for: AS English's patented "best way to lose a fiver today" moment... our Clásico predictions!
- 1 Courtois
- 4 Sergio Ramos
- 6 Nacho
- 23 Ferland Mendy
- 5 Varane
- 15 Federico Valverde
- 8 Kroos
- 14 Casemiro
- 11 Marco Asensio
- 20 Vinicius Junior
- 9 Benzema
Here's a remider of the home side's starting line-up.
- 13 Neto
- 18 Alba
- 15 Clement Lenglet
- 3 Piqué
- 2 Sergiño Dest
- 22 Ansu Fati
- 21 Frenkie De Jong
- 16 Pedri
- 5 Busquets
- 14 Coutinho
- 10 Messi
Koeman's bench has been confirmed and that's where Griezmann is for the second game in a row after the Getafe defeat. The forward didn't get on the pitch against Ferencváros. The Barça boss has some decent options there though, not least Dembélé, who was excellent against the Hungarian side in a 20-minute cameo featuring a goal and an assist.
Barcelona are currently in 10th place, having played a game fewer than Madrid.
Real Madrid will go top with a game in hand over La Real and Villarreal, both of whom are in action tomorrow, if they are victorious in Camp Nou.
So the Griezmann saga rumbles on... the Frenchman has been regularly played out of position since his switch to Camp Nou from Atlético and alluded to that when on international duty with France. He was then played in position away at Getafe and did not have the best of games, in what was seen in some quarters as a reproach from his manager.
Real Madrid starting XI confirmed
And here's Zidane's line-up. Luka Modric starts on the bench with Fede Valverde preferred in midfield while Marco Asensio is handed the spare attacking place alongside Vinicius and Benzema.
Barcelona starrting XI confirmed
Ronald Koeman has announced his starting line-up and there's only one surprise... Antoine Griezmann has been overlooked in favour of Pedri. Sergiño Dest will slot in at right back.
In case you were wondering (of course you were...)
Paulino Alcántara is the youngest player ever to appear and score for Barcelona, the then-15-year-old bagging a hat-trick in a 9-0 win over Catalá SC in 1912.
Ansu Fati is on for another record today as the precocious youngster is expected to start for Barcelona. Already the youngest player to score for Barça in LaLiga (and Camp Nou), the youngest to score and provide an assist in the same game in LaLiga, the youngest player to scrore twice in a LaLiga game, the youngest to score in the Champions League... you get the idea.
Anyway, Ansu can become the youngest scorer in Clásico history today at 17 years of age, beating Raúl (18 years and 95 days) and Roger García (18 years and 289 days) who both scored in the same 1-1 draw in 1995.
Nine of Zidane's current squad have found the net in Clásico action but this fixture hasn't exactly oozed goals in recent meetings. Real won the last fixture in March 2-0 on their way to the 2019-20 title but before that there was a single strike across 180 Liga minutes, handing Barça a 1-0 win in Camp Nou a year earlier.
Messi and Sergio Ramos have made 87 Clásico appearances between them and will renew their duel today in Camp Nou with the Argentinean likely to spearhead Koeman's attack. Ramos is El Clásico's all-time leading appearance maker ahead of Messi, who has overtaken Manuel Sanchís, Xavi and Gento (42) to sit alone in second place.
The biggest club game in domestic football will kick-off at in Camp Nou today. The most-watched match in club football will be followed by around 650 million people around the world, but played in an empty stadium due to the ongoing covid-19 crisis.
Leo Messi is El Clásico's all-time top scorer with 26 goals in total, eight more than his nearest challengers Alfredo di Stéfano and Cristiano Ronaldo. His only active rival to have bagged more than eight is Karim Benzema, with nine overall.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid head-to-head
Today's Clásico is the 245th meeting of the Liga giants in official competition. The overall score is all even - 96 wins each and 52 draws.
Speaking ahead of today's game, Zidane pinpointed the problem against Shakhtar: “We watched the game, as always. We started badly, in the sense that when we go a goal down, we found it difficult to lift our heads. It was difficult for us to play against a team sitting back, we could not find the solution. It's football, there are highs and lows in a season."
It won't be a huge surprise if the visitors wheel out some similar tactics in Camp Nou.
It should come as little surprise that Barcelona's return to winning ways against Ferencváros was inspired by Messi finding some of his missing form. Prior to that game the Argentinean had only scored once in four appearances this season and had provided zero assists. He added one of each in the Champions League and Koeman will be hoping for more of the same today, even if his star player has yet to score from open play this campaign.
For an in-depth look at the potential line-ups today, plus a preview and the low-down on injuries and suspensions, look no further than our pre-game guide.
Nacho's presence will be something Koeman and his staff will have looked at during the week. The utility man was given the run-around by Cádiz due in part to a lack of game time and if Ansu Fati starts on the left, he will be instructed to run at Nacho as much as possible. It was a tactic that bore fruit against Ferencváros.
Real Madrid squad for El Clásico
It's all rather more straightforward for Zidane, whis without Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal. That will mean Nacho slotting in at right back and either Marco Asensio or Lucas Vázquez joining Vinicius and Karim Benzema in attack. Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are nailed-on starters in midfield with Ferland Mendy likely to be preferred to Marcelo at left back. Zidane could also opt for a 4-4-2 as he has done in the past, adding Fede Valverde to the midfield to provide a bit of extra cover for a defence that is hardly watertight at the best of times.
Barcelona squad for El Clásico
Koeman has named a strong squad for today's game with the main question mark being the fitness of Jordi Alba. In all likelihood if he can run Koeman will play the Spain left back due to a dearth of options. Sergiño Dest can switch flanks, as he did in the Champions League, with Junior Firpo the only other viable candidate.
Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann didn't get off the bench against Ferenváros, leading to speculation that he may have been dropped due to a lack of form. However, Koeman may have something else up his sleeve today, although that is unlikely to include any deviation from his chosen formation.
In good news for Real Madrid fans, Sergio Ramos will be avialable in Camp Nou after shrugging off the knock that sidelined him for the Shakhtar game. Real's defence was overrun in the opening half by the Ukrainian champions, who had to field a second string side in Madrid.
There is plenty working in Zidane's favour going into today's game. The onus is very much on Koeman to prove his implementation of a new system is going to bear fruit in the long run. The Dutchman has been unflinching in his dedication to imposing a 4-2-3-1 at Camp Nou, even when it has failed to come off. The defeat at Getafe was a considerable setback and led to Koeman taking zero chances against Ferencváros in the Champions League when it was anticipated he would rest players for today.
Today's game is far from season-defining - Real Madrid have played five league games and Barcelona four - but the result is of paramount importance to both managers. Zinedine Zidane is facing the inevitable inquest after his side slumped to defeat against Shakhtar in midweek after Cádiz pulled off a text book smash-and-grab at the Alfredo di Stéfano a few days earlier. Ronald Koeman is also under the microscope early in his Barça tenure after defeat to Getafe on the heels of a 1-1 home draw against Sevilla.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid live: welcome
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of the first Clásico of the 2020-21 season as Barcelona host Real Madrid at Camp Nou. Kick-off is at 16:00 CEST.