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Barcelona vs Real Madrid. Spanish La Liga.

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Barcelona 0-0 Real Madrid: Gareth Bale denied by VAR in El Clasico stalemate

Report from the Nou Camp as rescheduled El Clasico ends goalless; Bale sees goal chalked off for offside following VAR check

VAR denied Gareth Bale a second-half goal after Ferland Mendy strayed offside in the build-up
Image: VAR denied Real's Gareth Bale a second-half goal after Ferland Mendy strayed offside in the build-up

Barcelona and Real Madrid played out the first goalless draw in El Clasico for 17 years on Wednesday night, with Gareth Bale denied a goal by VAR.

Clashes in Catalonia led to El Clasico being postponed back in October, and the rescheduled fixture was a high-security affair with pro-independence protests taking place outside the Nou Camp.

However, apart from some yellow footballs being thrown onto the pitch during the second half, the match itself passed off without much incident.

Jordi Alba should have broken the deadlock for Barcelona before the break, while VAR then denied Bale in the second half after Ferland Mendy strayed offside in the build-up.

The draw ultimately leaves Barca and Real locked on 36 points at the top of La Liga after 17 games.

Player Ratings

Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), Semedo (6), Pique (8), Lenglet (7), Alba (6), S. Roberto (7), Rakitic (6), De Jong (6), Suarez (7), Messi (6), Griezmann (5)

Subs: Vidal (6), Fati (6)

Real Madrid: Courtois (6), Carvajal (6), Varane (7), Ramos (7), Mendy (7), Kroos (6), Casemiro (7), Valverde (6), Isco (6), Bale (6), Benzema (6)

Subs: Rodrygo (6), Modric (6)

Man of the match: Gerard Pique

A woman holds up a banner with the words 'Tsunami Democratic' and 'Spain, Sit and Talk!' before the Liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid
Image: A woman holds up a banner with the words 'Tsunami Democratic' and 'Spain, Sit and Talk!' before the La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid

Pre-match talk was dominated by whether the 243rd Clasico would go ahead at the second time of asking, but a large security operation ensured there was no delay to the 8pm kick-off local time.

Both sets of players were at the same hotel a stone's throw away from the Nou Camp before being escorted to the stadium more than two hours before kick-off, while protests outside conveyed the message: 'Spain, sit and talk'.

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The 'Spain, sit and talk' message was on display inside the Nou Camp as well
Image: The 'Spain, sit and talk' message was on display inside the Nou Camp as well

Once play got under way, it proved to be a fraught affair, with Gerard Pique's goal-line clearance denying Casemiro the opener, before Sergio Ramos - playing in a record 43rd Clasico - did likewise to prevent Lionel Messi down the other end.

Team news

One Barcelona change saw Nelson Semedo come in for Sergio Busquets. Gareth Bale was one of three Real changes, with the Welshman getting the nod ahead of Rodrygo. Ferland Mendy and Casemiro replaced Nacho and Luka Modric.

Barca should have broken the deadlock just before the break, but Alba could only volley a first-time effort wide from eight yards out after Messi's delightful chip over the defence.

After the interval, the first and only disruption took place as Barca announced their first substitution. Yellow footballs were hurled onto the pitch, but stewards quickly cleared them off as Arturo Vidal replaced Nelson Semedo.

There was also the rare occurrence of Messi failing to connect with the ball properly. The Argentine played a one-two with Antoine Griezmann but could only miskick his attempt from 10 yards out.

Barcelona vs Real Madrid - Nou Camp
Image: Messi went a record fourth Clasico match without scoring or producing an assist

Bale had the ball in the back of the net with 20 minutes to go, but after a VAR check, Mendy was deemed to have been offside before his cross was met by the Welshman.

The encounter petered out and ended in a point for both sides - a case of damage limitations, with neither falling behind in the title race.

Man of the match - Gerard Pique

It was nearly always Pique getting on the end of Real's crosses, while it was his vital clearance off the line which prevented Casemiro from scoring a first-half opener too.

Barca have so often relied on Messi to provide the spark up front, but they will be grateful for their centre-back - who has been a key figure at the club for more than a decade - and the part he played in earning his side a point.

What's next?

Both clubs are in league action again on the weekend - the final round of fixtures this year. Barcelona host Alaves on Saturday, while Real Madrid welcome Athletic Bilbao to the Bernabeu on Sunday.

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