Barcelona 0-0 Real Madrid
Barcelona and Real Madrid played out a goalless El Clasico for the first time in 17 years to leave the two teams locked together at the top of the table on 36 points.
This is a game La Liga fans had to wait for after it was postponed in October amidst security risks surrounding Catalan separatist protests. And the vast majority in a packed Camp Nou expected the Blaugrana to win, but the visitors had their fair share of chances in a hard-fought game.
The La Liga 2019 betting odds have Barca as odds on favourites to win a third successive Spanish league title and a fifth in six seasons but, after this performance, I wouldn’t say Los Blancos are ready to give them an easy ride.
Highlights of the game
Los Blancos have relied almost exclusively on the in-form Karim Benzema for their goals this season and the Frenchman had the first shot of the game, on 11 minutes. After a slick passing move the ball fell to Benzema and he turned to shoot smartly, but his effort was comfortably saved by Ter Stegen.
There was significantly more panic in the home defence minutes later when Casemiro climbed above the Barca defence to head towards goal, but with Ter Stegen beaten Gerard Pique was on the goal line to head clear. Los Blancos were having the better of the early exchanges and a frustrated Ivan Rakitic went into the referee’s book for a late challenge, halfway through the first half. And Ter Stegen was called into action again to clear a cross with his boot, and then recover to stop a Casemiro attempt.
When Barca finally got going Messi was so close to taking the lead when he collected a weak punch from Thibaut Courtois and fired towards goal, only to be denied by a superb goal-line clearance by Sergio Ramos. And then, minutes before the break, Barca had the best chance of the half. Messi sent a great ball over the Real defence to meet a run from Jordi Alba, but he couldn’t convert with the goal gaping.
Early in the second half, Messi himself missed a great chance after receiving a return pass from Antoine Griezmann, and the home fans started to get restless and took to chanting about independence.
Having sat on the bench for the last three games Gareth Bale got the nod to start in attack for Los Blancos with young Brazilian Rodrygo missing out. The Welshman was pretty anonymous in the first hour and he mistimed his run when Benzema had a chance to put him through. He did have a chance on 70 minutes but his shot flew into the side-netting.
Bale had the ball in the net, on 73 minutes, but was flagged offside, and then he was booked for a late challenge on Griezmann.
Watching Bale’s action-packed ten minutes must have made Zinedine Zidane wonder whether his winger is more suited to coming off the bench, rather than starting!
The pre-match betting odds here at SBOBET predicted a home win at odds of 1.69 with the draw at 3.80, and in the end that was a fair result.
The last time there was a 0-0 draw in this fixture was way back in 2002, and the stalemate means that they remain tied at the top of the table as well as in La Liga El Clasico victories at 72 each.
Sergio Ramos has now played in more El Clasicos than anyone, 43, and one more than Messi, who has now gone four games without a goal or assist against Real for the first time in his career.
Both teams came into this game on the back of a draw, Barca taking a point from a difficult away game against Real Sociedad, while Real Madrid grabbed a 95th-minute equaliser, courtesy of Benzema away to Valencia.
They’ll probably both be reasonably satisfied with another draw tonight.
There’s one more round of fixtures to go before the Christmas break, and the Blaugrana are at home again when Alaves are the visitors to the Camp Nou. Asier Garitano’s team is comfortably placed in 14th at the moment, five points above the drop zone, and in Lucas Perez, he has a striker in form with eight goals so far this season.
Meanwhile Los Blancos host Athletic Bilbao in their first match of 2020. Los Leones are in seventh place and only three points behind a Champions League spot.
Then, after the break, we’ll be back with all the La Liga 2020 news, updates and highlights in what promises to be a fantastic second half of the season.
Bring it on!
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.