Barcelona and Real Madrid played a very intense, very entertaining El Clásico that had all sorts of action but somehow ended without a goal at the Greatest Stadium on Earth. Madrid dominated the first half hour, then Barça recovered and had big chances themselves, and the second half was just wild. This was mostly fun bad football, which is a perfect way to describe these two teams. In terms of the table, both sides are finally caught up with the rest of the league, and Barça finish the night on top thanks to goal difference.
Real Madrid absolutely bossed the start of the game, with a smart midfield setup by Zinedine Zidane that totally took control of the ball and forced Barcelona to defend deep inside their half. Los Blancos were patient with the ball and took advantage of set piece situations, and in one of them Gerard Piqué had to clear a Casemiro header off the line to keep Barça from conceding.
There were other good moments from Madrid, including a couple of dangerous shots from distance that required important saves from Ter Stegen, and Barça really needed to react. The Blaugrana looked poor with the ball and struggled to create meaningful chances in the first 30 minutes, but they slowly grew into the match and had more possession in the final third.
And the chances came: first Lionel Messi had a shot cleared off the line by Sergio Ramos, then the captain found Jordi Alba all alone in the box but the full-back missed a huge chance in front of Courtois; finally Luis Suárez fired a cross in front of goal that would have resulted in a Messi goal if not for a key deflection from Ferland Mendy, and Barça had finally arrived as the first half came to a close.
At halftime, Madrid were the better team but Barça showed some strong signs of life. The second half promised fireworks.
The second half was chaotic, with a lot of bad football and not a lot of tactical organization from either team. The game was up and down with very little possession and lots of shots, and in the first 30 minutes of the final period it was Madrid who came closest to taking the lead after Gareth Bale scored a tap-in, but the goal was correctly ruled out for an offside in the buildup.
As we reached the final 15 minutes it was impossible to predict which team was going to score the winner, and both managers made attacking substitutions to try and find it. But the two defenses held up well at the end of the game, and the final whistle came to make this a goalless draw. Even without the goals this was all sorts of fun, and Barça still lead La Liga. Not a bad night.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Vidal 55’), Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, De Jong; Messi, Suárez, Griezmann (Ansu Fati 82’)
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde (Modric 79’), Casemiro, Kroos; Isco (Rodrygo 79’); Bale, Benzema