Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, 2011 UEFA Champions League Semifinal: 0-0 At Halftime

I think we can sum up El Clasico 3.0 as 'messy'. And not in a good way. It's 0-0 at halftime at the Santiago Bernabeu, and there've been about two good chances all match, and all of four shots on target. It says something when the single biggest opportunity of the match ended up being offside anyway, but there's really not much going one - Real Madrid are frustrating Barcelona in the midfield by being extraordinarily physical, and the visitors have responded by diving a lot - Pedro and Sergio Busquets in particular have behaved reprehensibly in the first half by faking facial injuries.

As for the players who aren't getting into the rather... grumpy aspect of the match, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi are looking excellent, with the two combining to give Iker Casillas a real scare in the 25th minute when the latter slipped the former through to shoot from six yards, but the most surprising part of the Catalan's attack has been David Villa, who has been excellent all evening going up against Marcelo. However, they're not getting much in the way of penetration. That Xavi shot has been their only good chance of the match.

Most of Madrid's opportunities have come from set pieces, with Dani Alves in particular losing control and repeatedly fouling Angel di Maria and giving Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to swing crosses into the box. His deliveries, however, have been consistently poor, although one eventually led to Victor Valdes fumbling a shot and allowing Mesut Ozil to latch onto the loose ball in the area. The follow up was saved, and offside anyway, which more or less sums up the game so far.

Let's hope for a less feisty second half, anyway. If things keep escalating it's only a matter of time before Pepe knifes someone.

This is the third of four matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can view our coverage of the April 16th and 20th match here and here, with live coverage of Real Madrid vs Barcelona on April 27 in this story stream.

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