LIVE: Barcelona v Real Madrid – follow crunch El Clasico clash as it happens
19:08 GMT, 21 April 2012
Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the top of the table clash in Spain where Barcelona hope to close the gap on Real Madrid at the summit to just one point. Both sides come into the clash at the Camp Nou off the back of surprising defeats in Europe during the week – the hosts failing to score in a narrow defeat at Stamford Bridge, while Jose Mourinho's men were sunk by a late Mario Gomez goal in Munich.Email me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @DMworldfootball.
Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Thiago, Iniesta, Messi, Tello. Subs: Pedro, Fabregas, Montoya, Pinto, Alexis, Keita and Pique
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao; Xabi Alonso, Khedira; Cristiano, Ozil, Di Maria, Benzema. Subs: Adan, Kaka, Granero, Marcelo, Albiol, Higuain, Callejon
Booked: Pepe, Alonso
20.08 More of the same in these exchanges of the second half with Real showing no sign of the tiredness that looked to be getting the better of them before the break.
20.05 So we are back in action at a drenched Camp Nou.
And a nice stat from our friends at @InfostradaLive – should Barcelona over turn this deficit and win tonight, it will be the first time they have led the overall head-to-head record with Real for 80 years
19.45 Well, a ding-dong of a first half comes to an end. Not a spectacle of stunning football, but still an absolute joy to watch.
To this point, Mourinho has good his tactics spot on with Barcelona taking well over half an hour to get even close to their fluid best, and even then they have failed to muster anything of note.
Madrid lead, deservedly so, thanks to Khedira's goal opportunistic finish.
19.42 Yet more signs of life from the hosts – they are finishing the half the stronger, with Madrid likely tiring after their own electric start.
In the latest attack, Alves shuffles into a yard of space on the edge of the box and sends a tantalising cross for Messi who can't quite get a decent purchase on it. Latterly, the offside flag shoots up, so it wouldn't have counted anyway.
19.39 And another sign of the lethal pace out wide for the hosts as Tello looks to dart around the outside of Arbeloa; the wily old full-back is too experienced for that, though, and calmly ushers the youngster out over the byline.
19.37 It is all very neat and tidy from Barca in and around the box, resulting in Thiago sending a daisy-cutter out to the right of Casillas' so far untroubled goal.
19.35 Finally we are seeing some of the famous tiki-taka. That doesn't mean it is proving particularly effective, though, because Real are set-up masterfully by their manager tonight.
19.32: A sighter from Ronaldo, the first one we've seen from him really. The former Manchester United man cut inside Puyol and sent a rasping one wide of Valdes' far post.
19.30 Barcelona not managed to build on that opening created by Messi for Xavi. Madrid have done well just to manipulate the ball along the midfield and forward line without creating too much; it has taken the sting out.
19.26 Big, big save! Casillas preserves his team lead with an instinctive flick of his boot as he closed in on Xavi. So subtle was the touch that a goal kick was given, with many inside the stadium stunned Xavi hadn't hit the target – only the reply showed why.
19.24 Still not a hint of rhythm from the hosts. This has been a breathtaking start from the league leaders, who have had four shots on target compared with zero from Barcelona.
19.20 Barcelona have been stunned! Madrid are stretching the hosts all over the park. Tello tries his luck from distance as they look for a way back in, but he shoots wide. Within seconds at the other end, Ronaldo is doing exactly the same.
19.17 GOAL! Sami Khedira
From a corner, Pepe rises to a quite awesome height at the back post and powerfully heads it down towards goal. Valdes has to be at his best to beat it away but with the ball loose, Carles Puyol dallies and German international Khedira is on hand to prod home.
Goal time: Real Madrid's opener came from the most unlikely source, Sami Khedira
19.15 So it took just 15 minutes for the first yellow card, and it is for Sergio Busquets. The midfielder will have to watch his step for the remainder of the game after very cynically tripping Ronaldo with the world's most expensive player in full flight.
19.14 A first glimpse of the youngster Tello. The wide man is subsequently flagged offside, but the bust of pace he showed to cut inside Alvaro Arbeloa was the first hint of a threat inside the Real box.
19.12 It's not exactly unexpected, but the atmosphere at Camp Nou is ferocious. Aside from Ronaldo, the referee is taking the brunt of the vitriol, most recently for denying Alves a clear run at goal from a quick free-kick.
19.09 Hound-like pressing from Madrid ensures that Barcelona are yet to settle properly. Lionel Messi has been robbed twice in the centre circle, and from the second such incident, Karim Benzema latches on to a lofted ball and draws a save from Valdes from distance.
19.06 Despite the bright start by the visitors – pressing in packs really high up the pitch – Barca almost spring a surprise on the break. Iker Casillas has to switch on the after burners to reach Dani Alves and snuff out the attack.
No danger here: Iker Casillas had to be quick off the line to snuff out the danger of Dani Alves
19.03 Barcelona very loose in the opening exchanges. From the latest lapse, Cristiano Ronaldo pounces and surges off down the line before forcing a corner.
From Mesut Ozil's set-piece, the Portuguese directs a header goalwards that Victor Valdes has to claw away from beneath the crossbar.
19.01 So, who had 'one minute' in the 'rash tackle sweepstake' Angel Di maria lunges in on Thiago from behind in the centre circle – nothing malicious, but just a little taste.
19.00 And we are off and underway…
The eyes of the world are on Spain this evening, and more specifically the beautiful coastal city of Barcelona, where the planet's most anticipated football match is set to take place at Camp Nou.
In what could prove to be a decisive fixture in this season's title race, Pep Guardiola's defending champions host Real Madrid in El Clasic, with Barca looking to cut the deficit at the top to just one point.
In an unexpected turn of events, both sides come into the match having lost their midweek Champions League semi-final first legs at Chelsea and Bayern Munich respectively.
From their 1-0 loss, Guardiola makes two changes. Out goes Cesc Fabregas, who was guilty of missing two glorious chances at Stamford Bridge, and Alexis Sanchez, who picked up a knock in London. The summer acquisitions are replaced by youth team products Thiago Alcantara and Cristian Tello.
For the visitors, Jose Mourinho – who has only got the better of Guardiola once since taking over at the Bernebeu – sticks with the same side that slumped to a last-minute defeat at the Allianz Arena.
Let football do the talking: The match promises to be a thrilling affair in more ways than one