April 10, 2021, 15:34

El Clasico talking points: Gareth Bale’s nearly moment, Lionel Messi’s unlikely run

El Clasico talking points: Gareth Bale’s nearly moment, Lionel Messi’s unlikely run

Real Madrid and Barcelona played out a goalless draw in the rescheduled Clasico. Michael Hincks was at the Nou Camp to watch the action unfold.

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53 days later

The match was originally scheduled for October 26, but rising tensions in Catalonia – after nine separatist leaders were jailed – saw the tie postponed until December 18.

There were still concerns the match may not go ahead, particularly with a pro-independence protest taking place outside the Nou Camp before kick-off, but amid heavy security the match started at 8pm local time as planned.

Both sets of players had been in the nearby Hotel Sofia since around midday, and were escorted to the ground within minutes of each other more than two hours before kick-off. Getting both clubs to the Nou Camp safely was paramount, so too ensuring the 90 minutes played out without a hindrance.

Banners reading ‘Spain, sit and talk’ were on display inside the ground, as they were outside, but fears of a pitch invasion never came to fruition. The only disruption came in the second half – as Barcelona made their first substitution – when dozens of yellow footballs were thrown onto the pitch.

With the match ultimately ending 0-0, and both sides remaining tied at the top of La Liga, the 243rd El Clasico will be remembered for its rescheduling and tensions around the city of Barcelona.

Bale’s nearly moment

From bottle flipping on the bench at Valencia on Sunday – keeping his fellow substitutes highly amused in the process – Bale started from the off at the Nou Camp and very nearly got Real out of the rough in the second half.

The Welshman wagged his finger at the linesman after seeing his goal chalked off, and a VAR check showed it was actually Ferland Mendy who strayed offside in the build-up before crossing it in.

It would have been Bale’s third goal of the season, but those red and blue offside lines – which are becoming a familiar sight in the Premier League when VAR is called upon – showed Mendy was leaning off.

“He has shown he is an important player,” Zinedine Zidane said after the match. “He is offside just, he would have liked to have scored the goal, but it didn’t happen, the important thing is he had a very good game like everyone else.”

The near headline-grabbing moment for Bale, in what was his eighth league start of the season, comes just two weeks before the mid-season transfer window opens.

There have been reports he wants to leave in January, and though manager Zidane insists he remains an important part of the squad, his future will always remain a topic so long as he stays in Madrid.

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Messi fluffs his lines

A Messi miskick. It’s a collector’s item at the Nou Camp, and one the home crowd will have wished they did not witness.

It summed up Barcelona’s night in front of goal too, with Messi having already seen his chipped ball over the top volleyed wide by Jordi Alba in the first half.

Messi’s big chance came after he played a one-two with Antoine Griezmann, but the Argentine failed to connect with the ball properly from 10 yards out, unopposed between Sergio Ramos and Mendy.

It proved to be a frustrating evening for the now six-time Ballon d’Or winner, and while it is hardly a damning statistic, Messi – who moved level with Xavi on 42 Clasico appearances for Barca – extends his run to four games without a goal or assist against Real Madrid.

All square at Christmas?

The draw leaves Barca and Real level on 36 points at the top of La Liga, and both sides have just one match to go before Christmas, with a two-week break following.

Source: skysports.com

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