An email: Sid Lowe, who I’m guessing is at the Camp Nou for the Guardian, has written to inform me that my fun fact about this being Lionel Messi’s 28th Clasico is actually a complete worth of fiction. Apparently it’s his 44th. Bah! Sorry about that.
at 10.55am EDT
Half-time: Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid
It’s all square at half-time. The teams retire to the dressing-room following a cracking first half with goals and chances galore. As the scoreboard suggests, there’s little or nothing between the sides in a game that could go either way.
45+1 min: Gerard Pique puts the ball out for a corner, blocking a cross from Vinicius Junior. Toni Kroos sends the ball deep and Frenkie de Jong heads it clear.
45 min: A very entertaining first half tick-tocks toewards its conclusion, the sides level after Ansu Fati cancelled out Federico Valvarde’s fifth minute opener.
43 min: Real Madrid substitution: Lucs Vazquez comes on for right-back Nacho Fernandez, who appears to have done himself a mischief of some sort.
40 min: Jordi Alba tries to stand the ball up for Messi at the far post, but his cross isn’t great and Thibaut Courtois is able to pluck it from the air. Alba has been busy in this half and already looks knackered – he’s only just back from injury and clearly isn’t match fit.
38 min: Stout defending from Sergino Dest, who shepherds the ball out of play as Vinicius Junior tries to muscle his way past him. He’s been impressive so far; a couple of minutes ago he stood firm on the edge of his own penalty area as Casemiro tried to barge past him.
37 min: Yellow card for Nacho Fernandez as he concedes a free-kick wide on the left. Nothing comes of it.
35 min: Frenkie De Jong plays the ball down the inside left, spotting a run into space from Jordi Alba. It’s a beautifully weighted pass, but Alba’s latest cross is intercepted by Varane.
33 min: Ferland Mendy sends a cross into the Barcelona penalty area, where the ball hits the upper arm of Pedri from near enough point-blank range. No penalty is forthcoming. Messi gives his young team-mate a dig-out by clearing the ball.
31 min: Pedri and Dest combine down the right flank for Barcelona and work the ball into the box. Sergio Ramos’s first touch is a poor one, but he manages to clear it before Pedri can nick it from him.
29 min: Barcelona don’t get a penalty, but Clement Lenglet does get booked for a body-check on Federico Valverde.
28 min: Messi scurries into the Real Madrid penalty area and goes down under a challenge from Casemiro. It’s being checked by Var, but it looked a perfect tackle to me. He got the ball cleanly, but took Messi down as his leg followed through.
at 10.30am EDT
26 min: Now it’s Neto’s turn to impress in the Barcelona goal, saving well from Karim Benzema when the Frenchman found himself 12 yards from goal with the ball at his feet. He made life easier for Neto by failing to make decent contact with the ball.
24 min: Thibaut Courtois saves brilliantly from Messi, who looked a stone-wall certainty to score at the near post from about five yards out. The ball was on his right foot after he took it past Ramos, but it took a wonderful effort from Courtois, diving low towards the near post, to keep him out.
22 min: Benzema tries to square the ball from the left of the Barcelona penalty area. Gerard Pique blocks to give Barcelona a corner, from which they win another. The ball’s played to the near post, where Sergio Ramos heads straight at Neto.
19 min: Messi tries his luck from distance. Courtois saves. As he made his way towards the Real Madrid penalty area, Casemiro lunged in at him from behind. Messi rode the challenge and shot. Casemiro gets booked retrospectively. At least I presume it was him who got booked; the referee was some distance away when he brandished the yellow card.
at 10.54am EDT
17 min: Vinicius Junior and Ferland Mendy combine well down the left for Barcelona as Real Madrid try to regain a foothold in the game. The camera cuts to the stand, where Antoine Griezmann is taking his seat among the Barcelona substitutes, near Miralem Pjanic.
16 min: Ansu advances down the pitch with an astonishing burst of speed but is muscled off the ball by Valverde.
14 min: Another cut-back from Alba on the left, but this one isn’t quite as accurate and the ball is cleared before Pedri can shape to shoot.
14 min: Having fallen behind and equalised soon afterwards, Barcelona’s collective tail is up. They’re dominating possession and have Real on the back foot for now.
11 min: It’s been an eventful opening and no mistake, with two goals of excellent quality. Fati dispossesses the dozing Casemiro and plays the ball to Messi. He plays the ball across the face of the Real penalty area to Frenkie de Jong and Varane is forced to clear up as best he can.
at 10.15am EDT
GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (Fati 9)
Crikey! Barcelona equalise after Ansu Fati makes a clever bending run to stay onside to flick the ball into the bottom right-hand corner from the left side of the six-yard box after being picked out by an inch-perfect pull-back from Jordi Alba.
at 10.17am EDT
7 min: Allowed to burst into space on the right side of the Barcelona penalty area after Sergio Busquets failed to track his run, Valverde darts on to a beautiful weighted pass from Benzema and finds himself clean through on goal. He blasts the ball past Neto, who could do little or nothing to stop it.
at 10.08am EDT
GOAL! Barcelona 0-1 Real Madrid (Valverde 5)
Real Madrid take the lead. Federico Valverde smashes the ball past Neto after being played in behind the Barcelona defence by Benzema.
at 10.17am EDT
5 min: Casemiro floats the ball forward to Karim Benzema in the inside-left channel. He plays the ball backwards and before too long it’s back on the nap of the Real Madrid penalty area, with Varane lumping it forward.
4 min: Messi gets on the ball and advances on the Real Madrid penalty area but has a stop put to his gallop by Raphael Varane.
3 min: Barcelona enjoy a spell of sustained possession before winning a throw-in halfway inside the Real Madrid half. Sergino Dest, the first American ever to play for either of these two sides, takes it.
Barcelona v Real Madrid is go …
1 min: The game kicks off in weird, eerie silence at the Camp Nou. Real Madrid are dominating possession in the opening minute, before Frenkie de Jong finally gets a touch for Barcelona.
Not long now: The sun-bleached seats of the Camp Nou are unoccupied and forlorn as the teams walk out on to the pitch ahead of kick-off to the sounds of Guns N’Roses Sweet Child of Mine. Could be the sound of the summer, that. Oh, hold on … just before Leo and the chaps emerge from the tunnel, the stadium DJ replaces it with the only platter that matters: Cant del Barca by Jaume Picas and Josep M. Espinàs. Ramos and Messi embrace before kick-off as they go through the last of the pre-match formalities.
Fun fact: Lionel Messi will participate in his 28th clasico this afternoon.
Barcelona v Real Madrid line-ups
Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Neto, Dest, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, De Jong, Pedri, Coutinho, Fati, Messi.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois, Fernandez, Varane, Ramos, Mendy, Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos, Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Junior.
Team news: Ronald Koeman fields three teenagers in the Barcelona starting line-up, in Sergino Dest (19), Ansu Fati (17) and Pedri (17). The surprise inclusion is Pedri, who gets the nod ahead of Antoine Griezmann, whose struggles at Barcelona continue. Jordi Alba lines up at left-back, with Dest moving to the right.
Real Madrid line up as expected, with Sergio Ramos returning from injury and Toni Kroos also coming back into the side. Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior are the three amigos up front.
Zinedine Zidane speaks
Addressing the Spanish media in the build-up to today’s game, the Real Madrid manager was supportive of his under-performing players. “In any case, when you ask if I’m with the players I will defend them to the death,” he said, possibly prompting sniggers from James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale. “They are the ones that run and fight on the pitch. So I will always be with them. And I can feel the support from everyone. When we are on a bad run, that’s when you see their character, their quality and all the rest comes out. That’s what we’ll see tomorrow.”
Early team news
Barcelona will be without first choice goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen, who will be replaced between the sticks by nominitve determinism’s Neto. Samuel Umtiti is also injured, while Sergino Dest may start on the left side of Barcelona’s defence in place of Jordi Alba, who has been struggling with a hamstring problem but returned to training on Thursday. On the bench against Ferencvaros on Wednesday, Sergio Busquets is expected to start today.
Zinedine Zidane must plot without the services of Eden Hazard, Martin Odegaard and Dani Carvajal, who are all injured. Absent against Shakhtar because of a knee injury, Sergio Ramos is expected to start tonight. With their team having scored just six goals in their first five La Liga games of the season, Real Madrid’s front three are under pressure to deliver. Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio look likely to get the nod from Zidane.
La Liga: Barcelona v Real Madrid
Two Spanish giants in varying states of disrepair meet at the Camp Nou for the first Clasico of the season. Barcelona’s off-field problems were well documented during the summer but despite holding on to Lionel Messi, they are without a win in their past two La Liga excursions. Prior to their emphatic Champions League rout of the Hungarian side Ferencvaros, they lost at Getafe and were held by Sevilla.
Real Madrid travel to Barcelona on the back of consecutive defeats at the hands of La Liga newcomers Cadiz and a make-do-and-mend Shakhtar Donetsk team that had 12 players sidelined through injury or reasons related to covid-19. Defeat tonight could have a major say in the ongoing employment of manager Zinedine Zidane, whose future at the club is already the subject of speculation. Kick-off is at 3pm (BST), but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.
at 6.19am EDT