El Clasico: Real Madrid v Barcelona as it happened

Live text commentary as Lionel Messi scores a hat-trick as Barcelona beat Real Madrid, with Atletico Madrid staying top.

23 March 2014 Last updated at 18:27

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As it happened

  1. 22:30: 

    Thank you for joining us for a breathless El Clasico. Barcelona are back in the title race, Lionel Messi has two hat-tricks in a row and the pressure has been slightly relieved on Gerardo Martino.

    But perhaps the biggest winners today are Atletico Madrid, who top the La Liga table with nine games remaining.

  2. 22:26: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona
    Stats

    Barcelona had 68% of the possession and had more shots but Real Madrid had more shots on target. In fact only two of Barca's six shots on target didn't end up in the net.

  3.  
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    Amin Elhassan: That was the best #ElClasico that I have seen in my 22 years of life.

  4.  
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    Ben in London: if mid table la liga & mid table PL played each other then La liga would edge it, just more technical ability & control if the ball.

    Dean in Oxford: Reg in London: look at yesterday's PL results (not scores) and tell me which result didn't go the way predicted by the league table. Now tell me how many people predicted Real 3 Barca 4. The Champions League, so far and in the next round, tell you all you need to know about where the Pl stands.

    Daniel in Yorkshire: Bayern would win any league in Europe! Too much hype surrounding the top Spanish sides.

  5. 22:17: 
    Bastian Schweinsteiger

    These two clubs today are (arguably) the second and third best in the world.

    European champions Bayern Munich, the premier club side on earth at the moment, will wrap up the Bundesliga title on Tuesday with a win. And they will win.

    The Bavarians, who have not lost in 51 league games and have won 18 in a row, go to Hertha Berlin. A victory will make them champions with seven games to go. The record is six matches, their mark from last season.

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    Sho: Premier League, La Liga or Bunesliga it doesn't matter which is best. Just enjoy the football.

    Xander Seddon: U12 football is unpredictable and action packed, but how many would choose to watch that over El Clasico, I wonder?

    Matt Chicken: Never understand why some people need to define which is the "best" league anyway

  7. 22:06: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona
    Carlo Ancelotti and Gerardo Martino

    It's a huge win for Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino as well. He's been under pressure and before the game, he admitted tonight was their "last chance" to keep themselves in the title mixer.

    They could still win the treble...

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    Fred in Colchester: The Premier League is better than La Liga as a LEAGUE. Stop claiming that La Liga is better purely because of the current top 3 teams. It lacks the consistent drama and irregularities of the Premier League and let's not forget our superior attendances and atmospheres. Don't base your opinion of La Liga on El Clasico and the top 3 teams there!

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    Peter Warner: La Liga is NOT better than the PL because the league has absolutely no depth and suspense in terms of who will be the winner.

    No suspense in terms of who will be the winner? Three teams separated by one point with nine games remaining.

  10. 21:59: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    All three of the penalty decisions were questionable.

    Dani Alves fouled Cristiano Ronaldo outside the box for the first. Sergio Ramos clipped Neymar for the second but there was minimal contact and it may very well not have been deliberate.

    And Andres Iniesta didn't need a written invitation to go down for the decisive kick.

  11. 21:57: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona
    Lionel Messi

    There was talk recently that Lionel Messi was maybe not quite the same force he once was. Well that's his second consecutive hat-trick.

    Rarely has there been a more emphatic answer to one's critics.

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    Brian in Polegate: Anyone else disillusioned with world football if supposedly two of the best teams lie and cheat their way through what is supposed to be a spectacle?

    Reg in London: Why do people still not get it? The La Liga is superior in terms of quality of the football but the Premier League is the best because it is the most competitive and very unpredictable!

  13. 21:55: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    Any other big games coming in Spain this season?

    Oh I guess Atletico's trip to Barcelona on the final day might be tasty.

    And don't forget Real and Barca face each other in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday, 16 April. That's at Valencia's Mestalla.

  14. 21:54: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    What does that result do for the top of the Spanish table?

    Well Atletico Madrid are now top, by virtue of their head-to-head record with Real Madrid. Both sides are on 70 points. Barcelona, who could have been seven points adrift, are now only one point behind the capital sides.

    There are nine games left now, but Atletico's fate is in their own hands now. The other two need them to slip up.

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    Richard Olasunbo: Another fantastic game destroyed by officiating!

    Tom Moody: I fully agree that La Liga is better than PL but the simulation just to get a free kick is unbelievable

    Darren Clark: Nice to see that poor refereeing and bad defending doesn't only happen in England

  16. 21:50: 
    FULL-TIME- Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    That is the end of one of the most explosive games of football I've seen. A brilliant spectacle.

  17. 21:49: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    Gareth Bale clips Sergio Busquets, who loves a roll on the ground. That'll eat up some valuable seconds.

  18. 21:47: 
    INJURY TIME- Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    Three minutes left.

  19. 21:47: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    Real Madrid bring on a striker in Alvaro Morata for midfielder Luka Modric as we approach injury time.

  20. 21:45: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    This will surely rank as one of the greatest El Clasicos of all time. Ninety seconds plus stoppages left. Lots of stoppages.

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    Ian Manson in Inverness: How can people seriously claim that the Premier League is superior to La Liga? The PL is likely going to be won by a team humbled by Barca. This is a league apart.

  22. 21:44: 
    Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    If this stays the same, Atletico Madrid top the table with nine games left this season.

  23. 21:43: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona

    Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti makes a change, Isco comes on for Angel Di Maria. Five minutes to go.

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    Michael Dunthorne: Not convinced it's a penalty for the third time today

  25. 21:41: 
    GOAL- Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona - Lionel Messi (84 mins)

    He's only gone and scored a hat-trick in El Clasico! Lionel Messi fires the ball into the top corner. Another great spot-kick.

  26. 21:39: 
    PENALTY- To Barcelona

    A third penalty! And they've all been disputed. Andres Iniesta squeezes between Dani Carvajal and Xabi Alonso and is brought down in a team effort. A bit soft though.

  27. 21:39: 
    Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    This is a huge last few minutes for Barcelona.

  28. 21:38: 
    Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    Nine minutes left - surely there's another goal in this game.

    Barcelona's Javier Mascherano has a go from distance but it's over the bar.

  29. 21:35: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    Barcelona bring on forward Alexis Sanchez for midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The Chile international will add pace and perhaps a more direct route at goal. Eleven minutes left.

  30. 21:32: 
    HITS THE WOODWORK- Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    Dani Alves almost makes it 4-3 to Barcelona. Arguably the most attacking full-back in the world lines a shot up from outside the box that goes across goalkeeper Diego Lopez but comes back off the post. Inches away.

  31. 21:30: 
    Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona
    Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

    That second goal means Lionel Messi is now the second top scorer in La Liga history.

  32. 21:28: 
    Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets heads over the crossbar from a corner. There are 18 minutes left - I have no idea how this game is going to finish. 5-5?

  33. 21:28: 
    Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    There really is no other club game in the world quite like El Clasico, a brilliant mix of world-class football and a proper rivalry.

  34. 21:26: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    Off comes Barcelona forward Neymar and on comes Pedro. The substitute was warming up before the penalty award so perhaps coach Gerardo Martino got a bit lucky that the Brazilian won the penalty before he was hauled off.

  35. 21:25: 
    Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    Let's just drink that stat in - 19 career red cards for Real Madrid and Spain defender Sergio Ramos. That really is remarkable.

    Like a world-class version of Lee Cattermole.

  36.  
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    Matthew Davison: So so silly from an experienced Ramos, but what a pass by messi, some say he's lost it..

    Capital R: Another typical #ElClasico - Pepe fakes injury, Ronaldo scores, Messi scores, penalties, controversies, handbags & a red card!

    Richard Olasunbo: Behold the ugly side of #ElClasico

  37. 21:23: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona

    Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema won't be getting a hat-trick tonight. He is the man who has to be sacrificed so Real can have four defenders again. Fellow France international Raphael Varane, the highly rated young centre-back, comes on.

  38. 21:21: 
    GOAL- Real Madrid 3-3 Barcelona - Lionel Messi (65 mins)
    Lionel Messi scores

    Lionel Messi makes it 3-3 in an utterly fantastic game. Diego Lopez went the right way but Messi's effort still beats him.

  39. 21:20: 
    RED CARD- Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos
    Ramos sent off

    A 19th red card of Sergio Ramos's career.

  40. 21:20: 
    PENALTY- To Barcelona

    Sergio Ramos clips Neymar as he goes into the area. Penalty.

  41. 21:18: 
    Real Madrid 3-2 Barcelona

    Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who had never scored in a Clasico at the Bernabeu before tonight, hits a wonderful, rising strike from the edge of the area, which is just tipped over by Diego Lopez.

  42. 21:15: 
    Real Madrid 3-2 Barcelona

    Cristiano Ronaldo plays the ball across to Karim Benzema, who backheels it to Gareth Bale but the Welshman's shot from an angle is saved by Victor Valdes.

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    Richard Morris: foul was outside the penalty area-ref got it wrong

    Some Body: #Bale impressing so far. #Benzema could have had 5 already though. Cheap Peno for #Ronaldo. Oh dear.

    Senor Burito: Looked outside the box, and Ronaldo went down very easily. Perfectly taken penalty under pressure though

  44. 21:14: 
    Real Madrid 3-2 Barcelona

    This is just too much entertainment for a Sunday night. Makes a magnificent change of pace from Call the Midwife.

  45. 21:11: 
    GOAL- Real Madrid 3-2 Barcelona - Cristiano Ronaldo (55 mins)
    Ronaldo scores

    He wasn't fouled in the box but that won't bother Cristiano Ronaldo. Victor Valdes goes the right way but the best footballer in the world for the past year puts the ball right into the corner. Great penalty.

  46. 21:10: 
    Penalty- To Real Madrid

    Cristiano Ronaldo is fouled by Dani Alves. But it's outside the box. Barcelona are furious. Understandably.

  47. 21:10: 
    Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona
    Karim Benzema shoots

    If Karim Benzema doesn't score a hat-trick today, it's not for lack of trying. Gareth Bale goes on a brilliant dribble forward and plays the ball in to Benzema but Victor Valdes does well to keep the Frenchman's first-time effort from 14 yards out.

  48. 21:07: 
    Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

    The second half has started at a decent tempo, Barcelona have had most of the play so far but no shots on goal yet.

  49. 21:04: 
    Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

    Two minutes in and no goals or Karim Benzema efforts yet - what's going on lads?

  50. 21:02: 
    Kick-off- Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

    Hope you've had a relaxing half-time because here we go again.

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    Stu in Tamworth: That was one of the best halves I have ever seen in world football. Some of the football was unbelievable. Benzema could have had 2 hat-tricks. Di Maria has been amazing.

    Dominic in Huddersfield: Messi doubters be silent. The man is pure class. The ball is a magnetic to his feet. Goal scoring record season after season is top drawer.

  52. 20:56: 
    Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

    So what would a draw do for the table if it stays the same?

    Well Real Madrid will be one point clear of Atletico Madrid, with Barcelona another three points back. There are nine games left after today - with Barca playing Atletico on the final day.

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    Robbie Devenney: Messi has done more than Ronaldo and Bale combined in that first half #bestintheworld

    David Williams: WHAT A GAME. More in the second half please.

    Mark Adamson: Best weekend of football ever?

  54. 20:52: 
    Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona
    Lionel Messi

    That goal, which was somewhat outshone by the Cesc Fabregas-Pepe debacle, means Lionel Messi is now the joint-second highest top scorer in La Liga history. He is on 234, level with Hugo Sanchez ,who played for Real and Atletico Madrid.

    Athletic Bilbao legend Telmo Zarra holds the record with 252.

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    Swansea City forward Wayne Routledge: Just a normal #ElClassico... Messi scores and Pepe gets a yellow

    England Women's midfielder Jill Scott: That first pass from Messi was ridiculous!

    QPR midfielder Joseph Barton: Messi. Messi. Messi. #footballinggod

  56. 20:47: 
    Half-time- Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

    And that's half-time after surprisingly only one minute of stoppage-time.

  57. 20:47: 
    Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

    Real Madrid's Karim Benzema almost has his hat-trick, he rises high to head the ball just wide of the post.

  58. 20:45: 
    Yellow card- Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona
    Real Madrid v Barcelona

    In the aftermath to that goal, Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas and Real Madrid's Pepe went head to head and both threw themselves to the floor.

    It would be funny if it wasn't so lamentable. Oh who am I kidding? It was funny too.

    Both players are booked - I'm not sure if it was for the head nuzzling or the diving.

  59. 20:43: 
    GOAL- Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona - Lionel Messi (42 mins)
    Lionel Messi Barcelona

    Lionel Messi is now the top scorer in Clasico history. He plays the ball to Neymar, and the ball comes back to the Argentine, who fires home low past Diego Lopez. That's goal number 19 against Real Madrid.

  60. 20:42: 
    Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

    Real Madrid midfielder Angel Di Maria is having the game of his life, this time he comes back into his own half to take the ball off Neymar, who fouls him in the process.

  61. 20:41: 
    Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

    Barcelona attack but Andres Iniesta plays an overly complicated pass to Jordi Alba, who can only get a blocked cross in. It's a corner.

    But that comes to nothing.

    They started brightly but they're not looking great, it's got to be said.

  62. 20:38: 

    You can check out all the best action photos from El Clasico up on the BBC Sport Facebook page.

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    Daniel Lowther in London: The standard is so high. Premier League may well be the best league. But La Liga has the best games. This is football heaven.

  64. 20:35: 
    Yellow card- Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

    Surprisingly for a Clasico it's taken 34 minutes for the first booking. Angel Di Maria now has two assists and a yellow card after tripping Neymar from behind.

  65. 20:35: 
    Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

    Chelsea captain John Terry is apparently in the stadium watching tonight. Cue loads of 'hilarious' photoshopped pictures of John Terry celebrating in his full Chelsea kit with the victorious team tonight.

  66. 20:33: 
    Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

    Cristiano Ronaldo plays a slightly poor ball to Gareth Bale, who fails to control the ball as it goes out of play for a goal-kick.

    Bale has been outshone by Angel Di Maria tonight but I suspect he won't mind too much if it means his team wins.

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    Steve in London: Di Maria is amazing, those unstoppable runs are mesmerising and remarkable delivery. He's showing Özil how to fight for your place in the team. Giving Ancelotti no choice but to pick him.

  68.  

    Former 400m hurdles world champion Dai Greene: Di Maria is on another level tonight

  69. 20:28: 
    Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

    Cristiano Ronaldo hits a free-kick straight at the Barcelona wall and Luka Modric fires the rebound over the crossbar.

    They want a penalty for a Cesc Fabregas handball in the wall but it's not given.

    How costly will Lionel Messi's miss at 1-0 up prove?

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    Miracle Roch: How did Di Maria get to that ball. Isn't he supposed to be injured?

    John McEnerney: Thought RM were mad to sell Higuain and keep Benzema but he's scoring goals #GameOn now!

    Simon Murphy: What. A. Touch by Benzema. Oh my word what a match!!!

  71. 20:28: 
    Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

    It's Angel Di Maria on the left wing. Again. And he plays it into Karim Benzema. Again. It looks like it's going to be a hat-trick for the Frenchman but Barcelona defender Gerard Pique places himself on the line to keep the ball out.

  72. 20:26: 
    Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
    Lionel Mssi

    Could today prove to be the day the title was lost for reigning champions Barcelona?

  73. 20:24: 
    GOAL- Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona - Karim Benzema (24 mins)
    Karim Benzema

    Incredible. Angel Di Maria is back on the pitch and straight away he puts in another cross from the left. This time Karim Benzema takes a touch on his thigh and flicks an effort past Victor Valdes.

  74. 20:24: 
    Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona

    Very strange scenes as Angel Di Maria falls down near the corner flag after initially joining in the goal celebrations. It sounds like he's walking now on the sidelines, so hopefully nothing is too wrong.

  75. 20:23: 
    Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona
    Victor Valdes

    Victor Valdes has now got his head in his hands, he really should have touched it (the ball, not his head) around the post.

  76. 20:21: 
    GOAL- Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona - Karim Benzema (20 mins)
    Real Madrid v Barcelona

    And just like that Real Madrid are level. Angel Di Maria puts in a fantastic cross from the left and Karim Benzema gets his head onto it. Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes got his hands to it but couldn't keep it out.

  77. 20:20: 
    Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

    Barcelona forward Neymar is seeing plenty of the ball and he has a fairly weak effort at goal which is cut out by his Brazil team-mate Marcelo.

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    Jack Robinson: How did he miss that??? Ladies and gentlemen! That's the end of Lionel Messi!!!

    Rabin Acharya: Messi messed that up.

  79. 20:19: 
    Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

    Barcelona are impressing going forward in this game and Neymar has to be tackled just outside the box after the defence had initially switched off.

    And moments later Cristiano Ronaldo fires a shot straight at Victor Valdes at the other end.

  80. 20:16: 
    Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

    Lionel Messi should have doubled Barcelona's lead. He times his run fantastically, takes the ball in his stride and he's in acres of space but drags his shot wide of the far post.

    This could be 2-1 already.

  81. 20:14: 
    What a miss- Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

    Karim Benzema has an even better chance after some fantastic work by Angel Di Maria but he blazes over the bar rugby-style.

    A terrible finish from the Real Madrid striker. Barcelona need to be careful here if they want their lead to last long.

  82. 20:13: 
    Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona
    Gareth Bale

    Gareth Bale charges forward for Real Madrid and plays in Karim Benzema but the Frenchman's shot is easily saved by Victor Valdes.

  83.  
    Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

    Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand: Iniesta slapped that ball like it was giving him backchat!!

  84. 20:11: 
    Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

    Real Madrid are coming forward with purpose now.

    They have won their last 17 home games. They are not used to trailing at the Bernabeu.

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    Tim Davies: Great barca goal, lesson in how to find space...

    Paul Moore: It's on like Donkey Kong. Who saw that coming? Not me anyway.

  86. 20:09: 
    Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

    Elsewhere in Madrid, Atletico fans are probably celebrating the goal that would leave their team top with nine games left.

  87. 20:07: 
    GOAL- Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona - Andres Iniesta (7 mins)
    Barcelona celebrate

    Barcelona lead and it's a fantastic strike by Andres Iniesta. Lionel Messi slips in the Spanish midfielder, who takes the ball in his stride and absolutely hammers it past keeper Diego Lopez.

  88. 20:06: 
    Real Madrid 0-0 Barcelona
    Cristiano Ronaldo moans

    Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo calls for a penalty after Dani Alves touches him in the box. The one downside of Clasico games is nonsense like this.

    Never a spot-kick.

  89. 20:06: 
    Real Madrid 0-0 Barcelona

    And moments later at the other end Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema drags a shot wide of Victor Valdes's post. It's an open start.

  90. 20:05: 
    Real Madrid 0-0 Barcelona

    Barcelona forward Neymar has the first shot at goal but it's straight at Diego Lopez down low from Lionel Messi's ball. It came from a swift counter-attack after Cristiano Ronaldo wanted a free-kick at the other end.

  91. 20:03: 
    Real Madrid 0-0 Barcelona

    No real pattern to the game after two minutes, both sides have had a share of the ball. I don't think either side will want to go for it too soon - so much to lose tonight.

  92.  

    QPR midfielder Joseph Barton: #ElClasico heart says Barca. Head says Real. Always follow your heart. Barca 3-1

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    JB on 81111: Ronaldo has always been a better individual than Messi. Messi has just always been in a better squad that play for him. Now Real Madrid are on par with Barcelona, you can see Ronaldo is better

    Sam from Manchester: Ridiculous people saying only Ronaldo makes a team better. Messi would be handy for Altrincham...

    Rob in London: Ronaldo is a beast, a monster but Messi is an artist. If I could only watch one of them play in the flesh before I die it would be Messi

  94. 20:00: 
    Kick-off- Real Madrid 0-0 Barcelona

    Here. We. Go. Real Madrid get us under way.

  95. 19:59: 

    A minute's silence, with some orchestral music playing, before the game for former Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez, who died today.

  96. 19:59: 
    Carlo Ancelotti

    Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti will not give into the temptation to play for a draw - despite their four-point lead over their rivals.

    "A Clasico is always a good match and always has the same pressure because it's a very important game for the Liga and it's always different to every other match," said the Italian, managing only his second Real-Barca game.

    "We won't settle for a draw because we have the small advantage of being at home and we want to win. The support from our fans could be important for us and a small advantage against Barcelona.

    "Our aim is to bring all our quality. We have a lot of desire and we're going to try to do what we've done in previous matches: play attacking football and defend and attack together.

    "In both teams there are players who can win matches on their own. The difference will be in the teamwork, not just in the quality of individual players. The team that plays best will win."

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    Alex Haworth: Almost every time it looks like the Barcelona dynasty may be coming to an end, they prove everyone wrong with a big win

    Michael Fraser: Messi gets injured and people jump on the 'Ronaldo has always been better' bandwagon. How fickle can you get? Messi best ever.

    Zaheer Abbas: When it comes to rivalry!! PAKISTAN VS INDIA cricket match is at the top!!

  98. 19:56: 
    Fan
  99. 19:55: 
    Real Madrid fan in scary mask

    Some unusual characters at the game today.

  100.  

    Here's a few stats courtesy of our pals at Opta. I mean, I say pals but we don't go out for beers or anything.

    Barcelona have only lost one of 7 games in all competitions against sides managed by Carlo Ancelotti (W3 D3): 1-0 in Oct 2004.

    Neymar both scored and assisted on his Clasico debut earlier in the campaign.

    Real Madrid have only won two of their last 11 league meetings with Barcelona (D2 L7), and both came by the odd goal.

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    Jack Traynor: Galatasary v pretty much anyone. Atmosphere is incredible. West Ham or Leeds v Milwall always springs to mind too!

    Drogbastic: You will see a lot of talk about Bale-Neymar and Ronaldo-Messi but the real match winner today will be Di Maria

    Joey Reynell: I've got a feeling that this is going to be the Bale and Ronaldo show. Madrid to win.

  102. 19:44: 
    Gerardo Martino

    It's last-chance saloon for Barcelona now and coach Gerardo Martino knows it.

    "A draw isn't a good result though that depends on how the game goes," said the Argentine. "We're convinced we can win the Clasico.

    "It's probably our last chance to win the league.

    "There are nine games left after this Sunday's game and it's not the same to catch up one point than four or seven."

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    Moshodi Walter Thothela: Messi is the world's best player ever effortlessly, while Ronaldo is the great player, but he doubles his efforts to come close to Messi

    Peter Jeffcott: Ronaldo has always had the better of Messi because the latter seldom produces his Barca performances for Argentina whereas Ronaldo regularly produces his club performances for Portugal and in my book Gareth Bale isn't far off overtaking Messi as the 2nd best player in the world.

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    Conna Turner: Its Big But Nothing Like Liverpool Vs Utd!

    Roy Simon: Ajax vs Feyenoord, Chicago bulls vs Orlando magic, millwall vs anybody

    Robin J Solomons: The Ashes is pretty intense

    Damien Hill: Yankees/Red Sox biggest rivalry in American sports! That's baseball for those that don't know!!

  105. 19:42: 
    Xabi Alonso

    Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso is targeting a win that would take them seven points clear of their rivals - and three above Atletico.

    "Of course a victory for us would be the best possible news," he said. "To have played well, enjoyed it, that people also enjoyed watching and celebrating a win for the team would be the best news.

    "I think these are always very intense matches because of history and tradition because it is normally the two of us who are fighting for the titles.

    "Their importance dictates that they are very competitive, with maximum tension. The matches are also very intense in the stands. When we play in the Camp Nou or when they come to the Santiago Bernabeu, above all our fans are really into the match and we like that."

  106.  
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    Mike in Devon: Went to the Prague derby last year. Spent the game watching the fans, parts of the stadium were on fire for half the match! Unbelievable atmosphere.

    Matt, in London: Regarding rivalries, a bit of a throwback I know, but Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier had the biggest rivalry that boxing has ever known, so must surely be a contender?

    Thomas Mcinerney in Edinburgh: Tipperary V Kilkenny in hurling, Ireland. Kilkenny fans venomous towards Tipp

  107. 19:40: 
    Gareth Bale

    When these teams met in October, Barcelona won 2-1 and Real Madrid's Gareth Bale had a very subdued game.

    Our player ratings gave Bale 4/10, the lowest mark given to any player, with Spanish football writer Andy West saying: "A Clasico debut to forget for the Welshman. Employed as a central striker, Bale was utterly ineffective before being substituted. Shouldn't be too heavily criticised after being thrust into a new position with a new team when less than 100% fit."

    However he has come on a long way since then and Carlo Ancelotti says: "He usually plays out wide and in the away fixture he swapped positions with Angel Di Maria.

    "We have balance now and we won't do anything special for this match. He'll play out wide. He's in good physical condition and he'll play well. We haven't done any special work with him. He has great genetics and has trained normally, like everyone else."

  108. 19:39: 
    Neymar

    A bit of a surprise that Neymar has started ahead of Pedro and Alexis Sanchez.

    The Brazilian's form has arguably been affected by the dispute surrounding tax payments for his signing.

    He has not scored in five games.

  109. 19:36: 
    Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis

    Of course, these are not the only two teams in the title race.

    Before this weekend's fixtures, Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis was talking to the BBC's World Football Show.

    "It's a great achievement to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League and we're going well in La Liga so we have to see now how all of this will end. We still have a long journey ahead of us as there are still lots of games left to play. But it's clear that our objective is to fight until the very end.

    "The atmosphere at the Calderon is one that leaves you feeling like a proper footballer. I believe the union we have between the players and the fans is complete, 100%.

    "We still haven't lost a game at home this season and it's difficult for all the teams that come here to play against us. I'm incredibly happy to be playing here in front of such fans and in such a spectacular team."

  110.  

    Hull midfielder Tom Huddlestone: El Classico time soon, what's ya predictions?? 3-1 Madrid I'm thinking

  111.  
    Join the debate at #bbceurofooty

    Richard Powell: Ronaldo probably has a harder shot, but when it comes to dribbling and being central to intricate team play, Messi is king!

    Jeremy Balcombe: Ronaldo has done it in different leagues and for poorer teams. Barca are set up for Messi, Ronaldo makes a team better.

    Kritt Normsaskul: Ronaldo is outshining Messi now - has greater skills-set and can carry a team single-handedly to victory. Just ask Sweden

  112. 19:32: 
    Jordi Alba and Cristiano Ronaldo

    Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba says his side will have to ready to face a "beast" today.

    "We have to be honest and recognise that Cristiano Ronaldo is a beast and a very important player for Madrid," he said.

    "We're going to Madrid with the intention of winning the game. We know it will be difficult, but we want to play a good game and win. There are no favourites.

    "We will have to be very alert on defence because they are very dangerous on the counter,"

  113.  

    OptaJose: Since the 2008/09 campaign, Barcelona have won three more Clasicos (five) than Real Madrid have (two) at the Bernabeu.

  114.  
    Join the debate at #bbceurofooty

    Marc Bradley: Looking forward to El Clasico tonight think Real could turn it on and beat Barcelona by two or three goals tonight.

    Harry: Great match but the play acting that goes on is terrible. I'm sure tonight will be no exception.

  115. 19:22: 
    Pep Guardiola; the scoreline at full-time; Jose Mourinho; Real Madrid players celebrate

    On 21 April 2012, Real won 2-1 at the Nou Camp in Pep Guardiola's last El Clasico. Cristiano Ronaldo scored to inflict a first home defeat in 55 games on Barca and deservedly so after a near-perfect tactical display; the hosts' first shot on target did not come until the 70th minute.

  116. 19:21: 
    Barcelona's players celebrate; Real's are left stunned; Barca fans go wild in the Bernabeu

    On 2 May 2009, Barca won 6-2 at the Bernabeu with a mesmerising performance on their way to the title. Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi netted twice apiece as an away team scored six goals for the first time in El Clasico.

  117. 19:19: 
    Ronaldinho's genius enables Barca to thrash Real

    On 19 November 2005, Ronaldinho scored two wonder goals and produced a performance of such majesty in a 3-0 win, he became the first Barca player since Diego Maradona to receive a standing ovation at the Bernabeu.

  118. 19:18: 

    There have been some memorable Clasicos in recent years. And we have been having a look back at some of the best in our picture gallery.

    Luis Figo broke Barca fans' hearts by joining Real Madrid, and in 2002 a fan threw a pig's head at him during a game in Barcelona

    On 24 November 2002, the clubs drew 0-0 at the Nou Camp. Still incensed by Luis Figo's move from Barca to Real for £37m in 2000, one fan threw a pig's head onto the pitch in disgust at the Portuguese. The pig's head is now exhibited in Essen, Germany.

  119.  
    Join the debate on the BBC Sport Facebook page

    Abiola Akeem: Ronaldo has always been ahead if truth is to be told, Ronaldo can play and make impact in any team

    Kyle Patrick: Messi is only proven in one league, Ronaldo, in 3, says it all...

    Ndukwu Ifeanyi: Messi got injured, then people noticed Ronaldo, since Messi came back from injury, he has outshined Ronaldo. Messi's the man.

  120.  
    Join the debate at #bbceurofooty
    A Ninot (individual figure making up the scenes in the Fallas celebration) of players Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Argentine forward Lionel Messi

    Is Cristiano Ronaldo now better than Lionel Messi? And if so how much of that is down to a rise in Ronaldo or a dip for Messi?

    Spanish football writer Andy West has been looking into that for us.

    And what you do think? Is Ronaldo now the king of world football?

    Let us know using Twitter (#bbceurofooty), on text (81111, but that's UK only) or using the BBC Sport Facebook page.

  121.  
    Line-up- Real Madrid v Barcelona (20:00 GMT)

    Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo all start for Real Madrid as they make eight changes from the second-string side who beat Schalke in the Champions League.

    Real Madrid: Lopez, Pepe, Ramos, Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale, Marcelo, Alonso, Carvajal, Modric, Di Maria. Subs: Casillas, Varane, Coentrao, Nacho, Morata, Isco, Illarra.

  122. 19:13: 

    If there's a game which almost guarantees goals - it's this one. There have been 167 Clasicos played in La Liga, with an average of 3.19 goals in each one.

    You'd have to go back 27 years for the last goalless draw between the two in the league at the Bernabeu.

  123. 19:10: 
    Raul and Victor Valdes

    This is likely to be Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes's final ever El Clasico.

    The 32-year-old, who has spent his whole career at Barcelona, is leaving in the summer at the end of his contract.

    Second-choice Jose Manuel Pinto is likely to play in the Copa del Rey final against Real, so unless they meet in the Champions League semi-final or final, this is Valdes' Clasico swanswong.

    "I have fond memories of the Bernabeu, and the atmosphere there," he said. "Hopefully I'll be able to say goodbye by celebrating three points there. My most cherished memory was the first time I ever played there.

    "They are three important points, but they generally have been when we've played there. We have been working on defensive issues ahead of the game, but we should remember that there will be two teams on the pitch, and we have to avoid any mistakes, as we will pay a heavy price."

  124.  
    Line-up- Real Madrid v Barcelona (20:00 GMT)

    Barcelona make three changes from the side who beat Osasuna last time out. Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Neymar come into the side for Marc Bartra, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro.

    Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi, Neymar.

  125.  
    Text us on 81111

    Neil from Portsoy, Scotland: The most passionate derby in the world is without doubt in Glasgow. Nowhere else do you feel the intense hatred between the sides.

  126.  

    Match of the Day host Gary Lineker: How on earth have I found myself filming Rob Brydon's new show on the night of El Clasico? What a numbskull!

  127. 19:04: 

    This is one of the games each season that everyone has an opinion on.

    I spoke to Mark Lawrenson earlier this week and he predicted a 1-1 draw: "It's one of the few times recently that Real Madrid have gone into the game above Barcelona in the league. Madrid can lose and still be a point in front.

    "Barcelona are still a very good team but they're not brilliant anymore. The way Madrid are scoring, I don't see them losing. A year or 18 months ago I'd have tipped Barcelona but not now. Madrid have got better and Barcelona have got slightly weaker."

  128.  

    Ireland and Leinster full-back or wing Rob Kearney: "So do I just call in sick tomorrow morning and just stay for El Clasico? I'm sure the gaffer will understand!!!"

  129.  
    Join the debate at #bbceurofooty

    Ryan Fish: The Steel City derby always raises the tempo in Sheffield for weeks before kick off.

    Martin James: For the talent involved alone, Real-Barca is the best rivalry in sports.

    Matt DW: Biggest Rivalry is Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees in baseball.

  130. 19:02: 
    Andres Iniesta

    Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta says nothing other than a win will do now.

    "We can't settle for anything other than a win - that has to be our mentality, with no doubts at all," he said.

    "We'll have to put in an almost perfect game - that's what beating Madrid demands and we are capable of doing it.

    "We have to have confidence in ourselves, as we always have with this kind of game. We aren't 20 points behind the leader and there's no big difference in results or the way we are both playing."

  131.  
    Join the debate at #bbceurofooty

    Hiren Vadgama: River vs Boca for passion any day. AC Milan vs Inter would be in with a shout & throw in Merseyside derby for good measure.

    oli: Biggest rivalry has got to be Galatasaray vs Fenerbache, just mental atmosphere.

    Amrit Elixir Gautam: Miami Heats vs LA Lakers in NBA. More rivalry then El Classico I suppose.

  132. 18:58: 
    Mundo

    And Barcelona paper Mundo issues a rallying call for Barca to go for the title.

  133. 18:57: 
    Front page of Marca

    Barcelona in danger of KO, says the front page of Marca newspaper in Madrid.

  134. 18:56: 
    AS

    Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in top form going into the huge Clasico for the La Liga title race, says Madrid newspaper AS.

  135. 18:55: 
    Sport front page

    Catalan newspaper Sport calls on Barcelona to demonstrate that they are the best.

  136. 18:54: 

    What are the ridiculously biased Madrid and Barcelona newspapers saying about this game?

  137.  
    Join the debate at #bbceurofooty

    Kester Mullan: Roma v Lazio has to be in there. postponing the game in 2004 because of a riot.

    LukeS: Has to be Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne Heart in the A-League. The biggest rivalry in football!

    Kasun Munasinghe: Rivalries wise, Barcelona vs Real has to be the biggest. You can tell how much it means after the game.

  138.  
    Text us on 81111

    Richard Atherton in Northwich: Surely all rivalries in world sport bow down to one.....the british and irish lions against whoever they play - sensational!

  139. 18:48: 

    If the little Argentine scores twice, he will become the second top scorer in La Liga history. He is on 233, one behind Real Madrid legend Hugo Sanchez.

    Athletic Bilbao icon Telmo Zarra holds the record with 252. Unless something dramatic happens, Messi will break that record next season.

  140. 18:47: 
    Lionel Messi takes on Luka Modric

    On top of everything else that's at stake tonight, we might also see a record fall.

    If Lionel Messi scores, it will be his 19th El Clasico strike - beating Alfredo Di Stefano's long-standing landmark.

  141.  
    Text us on 81111

    Mdavvers, swansea: Massive Real Madrid fan here. I think the run of form Madrid are on will be enough to get them the three points tonight. Come on Bale, it's your time to shine!

  142.  
    Join the debate at #bbceurofooty

    Where do you think Real Madrid v Barcelona ranks with the biggest rivalries in world sport, not just football?

    Or is Olympiakos v Panathinaikos more your cup of tea? Or India v Pakistan in cricket? Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL?

    Let us know using Twitter (#bbceurofooty), on text (81111, but that's UK only) or using the BBC Sport Facebook page.

  143. 18:40: 

    For me this is one of the main three football uber-rivalries, along with Celtic v Rangers and River Plate v Boca Juniors. Games that transcend football, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

    Celtic v Rangers
    River Plate v Boca Juniors

    (That's a pig in Boca colours being passed round by River Plate fans in case there was any doubt...)

  144. 18:38: 

    Atletico Madrid beat Real Betis 2-0 today to go top of the table by virtue of their head-to-head record with Real Madrid.

    So if Barca win this evening, Atletico are top with nine games to go, level on points with Real Madrid, with Barcelona one point behind the pair.

    Atletico's final game? Away to Barcelona.

  145. 18:35: 

    Real Madrid are four points ahead of Barcelona in the table with 10 games to go. So a victory for Carlo Ancelotti's side today would effectively end Barca's title hopes as Real do not have any hugely difficult games left to play.

    A draw would still make it very, very difficult for Barcelona, but a Catalan victory closes that gap to one point.

    But there was a very important twist today that I should mention...

  146. 18:32: 
    Flags and scarves

    To be honest, there are a handful of fixtures each year that don't need any hyping up. This is one of them.

    It's Real Madrid v Barcelona.

  147. 18:31: 

    Unlike some live text commentary introductions, which just feel forced.

  148. 18:30: 

    Cats v Dogs.

    A dog and a cat stare at each other

    Batman v The Joker.

    Batman

    Nas v Jay Z.

    Nas and Jay Z

    Some rivalries just come naturally.

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Latest Football

Fri 19 Sep 2014 - Spanish La Liga
  • Elche v Eibar 20:00
Sat 20 Sep 2014 - Spanish La Liga
  • Deportivo de La Coruña v Real Madrid 15:00
  • Ath Bilbao v Granada CF 17:00
  • Atl Madrid v Celta de Vigo 19:00
  • Espanyol v Málaga 21:00
Sun 21 Sep 2014 - Spanish La Liga
  • Real Sociedad v Almería 11:00
  • Villarreal v Rayo Vallecano 16:00
  • Córdoba v Sevilla 18:00
  • Levante v Barcelona 20:00
Mon 22 Sep 2014 - Spanish La Liga
  • Getafe v Valencia 19:45
Tue 23 Sep 2014 - Spanish La Liga
  • Real Madrid v Elche 19:00
  • Celta de Vigo v Deportivo de La Coruña 21:00

League Table

Spanish La Liga summary table; it charts each team by position, team name, games played, total goal difference and points
Position Team Played Goal Difference Points
No movement 1 Barcelona 3 6 9
No movement 2 Valencia 3 5 7
No movement 3 Sevilla 3 3 7
No movement 4 Atl Madrid 3 2 7
No movement 5 Celta de Vigo 3 2 5
No movement 6 Granada CF 3 1 5
No movement 7 Real Sociedad 3 1 4
No movement 8 Villarreal 3 1 4
No movement 9 Deportivo de La Coruña 3 0 4
No movement 10 Elche 3 -2 4
No movement 11 Málaga 3 -2 4
No movement 12 Ath Bilbao 3 0 3
No movement 13 Real Madrid 3 -1 3
No movement 14 Eibar 3 -1 3
No movement 15 Getafe 3 -3 3
No movement 16 Rayo Vallecano 3 -1 2
No movement 17 Almería 3 -1 2
No movement 18 Córdoba 3 -2 2
No movement 19 Espanyol 3 -3 1
No movement 20 Levante 3 -5 1

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