Alex Livesey

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: Raphael Varane is Los Blancos' hero in El Clasico

While Barcelona head to Camp Nou with an advantage in the Copa del Rey semifinal, Wednesday night was all about Raphael Varane and his brilliant performance for Real Madrid. News, updates and live coverage of the second leg here.

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Varane the hero, but Barca has advantage

Barcelona have a leg up on Real Madrid in their Copa del Rey semifinal edition of El Clasico, but Raphael Varane's late goal has given his team hope heading to the Camp Nou. News, updates and live coverage of the second leg here.

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Raphaël Varane makes it 1-1

Update: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Final Score

At last in the 82nd minute Real Madrid got a goal from a rather unlikely source.

Mesut Özil got the assist as he sent an excellent cross in to the Barcelona box off after an indirect free kick from the right wing. 19-year-old defender Raphaël Varane was positioned in the middle of the box and unleashed a towering header that bounced once before beating José Manuel Pinto inside the near post.

Varane might as well have been flying he was so high off the ground. It was a stunning moment of athleticism and a deserved goal for both Madrid and Varane who was played given an absolutely outstanding performance on the day.

Barca will be disappointed with the poor marking but with less than ten minutes to play I expect they'd be happy to head to the second leg at home with a 1-1 scoreline and an away goal tucked neatly in their pocket.

There's still time for more goals though, because after all this is an El Clasico

For more on El Clasico, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.

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Pedro misses a chance to extend Barcelona's lead

Update: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Final Score

Cristiano Ronaldo was again on the attack in the 67th minute. Sami Khedira broke away down the right side and beat his defender before sending a cross towards the far post.

Ronaldo's eyes were as big as saucers as he raced on to the ball and the giant empty net in front of him as José Manuel Pinto couldn't get back across the face of goal fast enough. Gerard Piqué came the rescue for Barca, completely selling out his body to make a desperation sliding tackle that pushed the ball away from Ronaldo at the last second and prevented what was surely a goal for Madrid.

In the 72nd minute Pedro made an 80-yard run and received a brilliant long ball from Andres Iniesta as he raced behind the Madrid defense. Pedro did everything right as Diego López stayed pinned to his line for some reason, rather than coming out to challenge him. In the end, Pedro's shot let him down as he sent the ball across the face of goal and wide of the far post. It was if he didn't know what to do when López didn't come off his line.

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Ronaldo misses a great chance to pull Madrid even

Update: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Final Score

Cesc Fàbregas nearly scored a second after collecting a pass on a counter attack in the 55th minute. Just when it looked like Cesc would be free in on Diego López yet again, 19-year-old defender Raphaël Varane came rocketing up alongside Cesc and took the ball off his foot with a perfectly time and brilliantly executed tackle. Just a stunning play by the young French defender.

In the 60th minute Madrid were again close to finally getting a goal. Michael Essien put a excellently placed cross in to the Barcelona box towards the far post where Cristiano Ronaldo was making a run. Ronaldo got his head on the ball with an open net in front of him but he mis-hit the ball, sending it wide of the goal. It was a challenging finish but by Ronaldo's standards, it was a blown sitter.

Barcelona finally got the ball back and put some pressure on Madrid that culminated in a Dani Alves shot from 15-yards out that was blocked by López.

Madrid remains the better side but Barca have the goal and Madrid's finishing is really letting them down.

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Cesc Fàbregas gives Barcelona the lead

Update: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Final Score

Real Madrid had the first chance of the half after Michael Essien dispossed Xavi to start a counter attack break. Cristiano Ronaldo found Karim Benzema at the top of the 18-yard-box with a celver backheel and Benzema worked laterally before placing a shot that curled just over the bar.

Minutes later Barcelona finally struck.

Lionel Messi took the ball right off Xabi Alonso's foot and tapped it forward to Cesc Fàbregas who was sitting onside in a ton of space behind the majority of the Madrid back line. Fabregas was in alone and took his time, drawing Diego López off his line before beating him with a shot towards the far post as López committed to his right.

Madrid really have been the better side overall through the first half and at the start of th second half, so giving up a goal like that will sting. It also won't help that this is a home-and-home tie and away goals count as a tiebreaker after 180 minutes. An away goal for Barca who return home for the second leg could be huge.

For more on El Clasico, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.

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No goals after 45 minutes, but plenty of chances

The first 45 minutes between Real Madrid and Barcelona featured several great chances, some excellent defending but no goals.

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Brilliant end-to-end play, but still scoreless

Update: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Final Score

Careless passing from Barcelona nearly cost them big time in the 27th minute. A giveaway in the midfield allowed Real Madrid to counter as Karim Benzema came close to putting the home team in front. Benzema's first touch on the final ball in to the box wasn't great as he popped the ball up in the air before volleying a shot in to the side netting. A better first touch by the French striker probably would have been in the back of the net.

Madrid conceded another dangerous free kick in the 32nd minute after Cristiano Ronaldo crashed in to Dani Alves on the edge of the box. Lionel Messi and Xavi both stood over the free kick but it was Messi this time who went for goal but his shot went just over the crossbar.

Madrid threatened yet again in the 34th minute. Michael Essien put a fantastic pass in to the Barca box as Ronaldo snuck back the back line. Ronaldo put a low cross in that was cleared out of danger by a combination of the sliding Dani Alves and Gerard Piqué. In the confusion, Alves appeared to accidentally clip his goalkeeper Pinto in the thigh. He was able to continue after a couple minutes being looked at the the physio.

For more on El Clasico, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.

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Xavi comes close twice for Barcelona

Update: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Final Score

After a frantic first ten minutes that saw Real Madrid come close a couple times, the match settled down just a bit in to a fast paced, entertaining, back and forth affair. Neither team has been very good with possession in the midfield, but that has as much to do with the other team being aggressive as it does anything else.

Barca finally started to sit on the ball around the 17th minute, passing it around in the style we've all become accustomed to. Madrid are playing very compact formation early with a high defensive line and so far it's worked alright. Daring Barca to test a high line though seems like asking for trouble though in the long run.

In the 19th minute, Karim Benzima got behind the Barca defense on the right side of the box and nearly found a charging Cristiano Ronaldo with a cross. Just a second's hesitation from Benzima might have given Ronaldo the time he needed to get his head on the ball.

Barca roared back earning a free kick just outside the Barca box as Ricardo Carvalho was shown a yellow card for bringing down Andres Iniesta. Xavi took the free kick, lifting it over the wall but it hammered off the crossbar.

Barca should have scored in the 24th minute when Carvalho turned the ball over in his own box. Xavi's shot beat Lopez but Raphaël Varane was the man of the moment, clearing the ball off the line.

For more on El Clasico, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.

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Fast start for Real Madrid, but no goals

Update: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Final Score

Things got off to a fast start in the 1st minute as Cristiano Ronaldo was brought down by Gerard Piqué just outside the Barcelona box. Piqué came across the midfielder late, he knew exactly what he was doing, and the referee showed the Barca defender a yellow card. Ronaldo put the subsequent free kick on target but José Manuel Pinto was up to the task and parried away his curling shot.

Another close call in the 9th minute for Barcelona when Michael Essien put a cross in to the box that was slighly deflected by Jordi Alba. Pinto took no chances and pushed the ball over his crossbar for a corner. Madrid were unable to take advantage of the set piece and Barca cleared the danger.

The Blaugrana answered the pressure a minute later as Lionel Messi and Cesc Fàbregas combined for a celver one-two in the Madrid box that ended with Messi alone in front of Diego López. His shot went in to the side netting but the linesman's flag was up on the play.

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: Lineups

Can Real Madrid stay alive and head to the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie against Barcelona with a chance to advance to the final?

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Ronaldo needs to Ronaldo

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has scored against Barcelona in all of the last six editions of El Clasico, which is a record. He's going to need to extend that record.

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Khedira needs to hinder Messi

Lionel Messi will get a lot of touches on Wednesday, and he will have a serious impact on the game. It'll be Sami Khedira's job to make sure Messi doesn't get the ball wherever he wants, whenever he wants it.

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TV schedule for El Clasico

El Clasico is renewed on Wednesday, when Real Madrid host Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.

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Real Madrid look to salvage season

It's been an atypically down year for Real Madrid, but that matters now when it comes to El Clásico matches with rival Barcelona. The two fabled clubs meet Wednesday at the Bernabeu for the first of two legs in the Copa Del Rey semifinals. Ryan Rosenblatt of SB Nation Soccer previews the match, and fills fans in on two records in play: one, the six game goal streak against Barca for Ronaldo; and two, the all-time goals scored record that Messi is chasing.

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El Clasico: Real Madrid's perennial inconvenience

El Clasico should be a great opportunity for Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho to salvage something from this season, but in the wider context, Barcelona are a sideshow to their real problems once again.

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Has the shine come off El Clásico?

As another round of El Clásico approaches we've discovered that people, in general, don't appear to be very excited about another two games between Real Madrid and Barcelona

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Injuries, suspensions and distractions for Madrid

While Barcelona are in good shape, Real Madrid are dealing with several injuries and suspensions that could turn the tide in this latest edition of El Clásico

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El Clásico returns to bring us all joy

Real Madrid and Barcelona face off again for the right to play in the Copa del Rey final while Atletico Madrid and Sevilla meet for the right to meet one of them...and probably lose to them.

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