David Ramos

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, 2013 El Clásico: Blaugrana squeak it out

Jese Rodriguez scored late, but Real Madrid won't see it as a consolation goal. They'll be mad at a missed penalty call in the second half, but they only have their poor defending to blame for Barcelona's two goals.

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Jese's goal mattered

Ultimately, Jese Rodriguez's goal was of no consequence in El Clasico. He scored too late for Real Madrid to take advantage and they never came close to equalizing in their 2-1 loss to Barcelona. Still, it's worth admiring this goal, since it was scored by a 20-year-old at the Camp Nou, playing in the biggest rivalry match in the world for the first time.

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He had the intelligence to make the right run to the right place at the right time, the pace to beat his defender and the composure to beat Victor Valdes at full speed. It might not matter much in the context of Saturday's game, but this goal matters in the context of Real Madrid's future and a budding young star's career. It didn't affect the result, but it was still a big-time goal in every way, and one that should have all of Madrid's forwards not named Ronaldo fearing for their places.

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Barca squeak out first Ancelotti-Martino Clasico

Real Madrid will claim that they were an inch of luck and a bad refereeing decision away from getting a point or three at Camp Nou, but Barcelona have the win in the standings, thanks to Neymar and Alexis Sanchez.

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Alexis Sanchez's chip makes it 2-0 Barcelona

Just when it appeared that Real Madrid were on the verge of pulling even in the match, second half substitute Alexis Sanchez pulled off a moment of brilliance and extended Barcelona's lead to 2-0.

It happened on a counter started by Neymar who brought down the ball in the midfield circle and immediately turned, sending a leading pass in the path of Alexis. The Chilean ran onto the ball while holding off Raphaël Varane before making a wicked cut back inside that turned the 20-year-old Madrid defender completely in circles.

Varane couldn't recover in time and Alexis took advantage of Diego Lopéz being off his line, chipping the ball up and over the goalkeeper and sending the Camp Nou crowd into a frenzy.

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As Barcelona celebrated, Cristiano Ronaldo continued to vent at the match referee over the penalty non-call from earlier and talked his way into a yellow card for dissent.

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Ronaldo denied a penalty, Benzema hits the bar

Real Madrid have looked like a different team in the second half but they've yet to find a way past Barcelona's defense. Cristiano Ronaldo was denied what appeared to be a clear penalty while Karim Benzema hit a shot off the crossbar as only 15 minutes remain at the Camp Nou.

Gareth Bale's debut in the Clásico ended in the 60th minute as he was replaced by Karim Benzema. It wasn't the best game for Bale who failed to make much of a noticeable impact though it likely didn't help that he's still working back to full match fitness. It was also Ancelotti's second substitution of the half as he'd replaced Sergio Ramos with Asier Illarramendi four minutes earlier.

In the 65th minute Luka Modrić hit Ángel Di Maria with a magical pass that should have allowed the winger to break in free against Victor Valdés. Instead Di Maria's touch was heavier than a box of rocks and the ball jumped forward allowing the Barca goalkeeper to charge off his line and collect the ball.

Cristiano Ronaldo was denied on a penalty shout in the 71st minute when Javier Mascherano came in on the Portuguese striker and knocked him off the ball. Ronaldo went ballistic but the referee waved away his complaints though replays showed Ronaldo was clearly fouled from behind by the defender.

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Madrid continued pushing forward and created their best chance of the match a minute later when Benzema's rocket from 20-yards out curled past Valdés and smacked off the crossbar.

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You get the feeling that the equalizer is going to arrive at any minute unless Barcelona can settle the game down.

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Barcelona still leading but Madrid look better

Whatever Carlo Ancelotti said to his team at halftime clearly helped as Madrid came out in the second half looking much better in possession and balancing out the run of play considerably.

Tempers flared early in the second half after Sergio Ramos left his foot in late and tripped Andrés Iniesta. It very easily could have been a second yellow card for Ramos but the referee showed restraint despite the crowd of Barcelona players around him. Sami Khedira felt the need to interject himself into the discussion as well, causing a minor pushing and shoving match to break out.

Madrid looked more dangerous as well as the half progressed and generated a great chance in the 52nd minute after Khedira broke through the defense on the left side of the area. His cross back across the box was popped back up in the air and finally cleared by Gerard Piqué.

Barcelona came close in the 54th minute when Javier Mascherano's ball over the top was run on to by Neymar at full speed on the left. Neymar let the ball bounce once and unleashed a quick shot that was blocked by Diego Lopéz who read the play well and cut off the Brazilian's angle well.

In the 58th minute Luka Modrić forced a turnover in the midfield and quickly moved the ball out to Ronaldo who wasted no time blasting a shot on goal. Victor Valdés was up to the challenge though and denied Ronaldo with an excellent save. Madrid came right back and again Valdés was ready, denying Ángel Di Maria's shot from outside the area.

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Neymar has Barcelona in front at halftime

A goal from Neymar in his Clásico debut combined with excellent possession play has Barcelona in total control as the match reaches halftime

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Barcelona in control 15 minutes from halftime

Neymar's goal inspired Barcelona forward as the match reached the 30 minute mark of the first half. Lionel Messi has been dangerous as well, coming close to a goal of his own and nearly setting up Neymar for a second.

All of Barcelona's possession not only earned them a deserved lead, it also kept the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale completed out of the match. The duo barely saw any of the ball as Madrid struggled to figure out how to get the ball forward effectively during those seemingly

Lionel Messi again had a chance to expand the lead in the 26th minute, breaking into the Madrid area and attempting to cut the ball back to Neymar who as again in open space. Madrid defender Dani Carvajal was the only thing between Madrid and a likely 2-0 deficit and he made the play, intercepting the pass and clearing the danger.

With 15 minutes left until halftime there's not doubt that Los Blancos need to make some adjustments despite showing some signs of life at last.

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Neymar scores in his Clásico debut

Neymar couldn't have dreamed of a better start to his Clásico appearance as the Brazilian striker has put Barcelona ahead 1-0 in the 18th minute.

Compared to their last two games against Osasuna and AC Milan, Barcelona's attack has looked much sharper in the first half so far. Just as it looked like Madrid had everything sorted out defensively though and were handling the reassure well, Barca struck.

Andrés Iniesta's cutting run through the middle of the defense caused Madrid to compact every so slightly, leaving some space on the left side for Neymar to play in to. Neymar stayed even with Pepe and Iniesta found him with a perfectly placed pass inside the Madrid area. Neymar's shot stayed low, got past Diego Lopéz and tucked in nicely inside the far post.

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Lionel Messi nearly doubled the lead a minute later, sending a close range shot from the right side rolling past the post.

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Lots of pressure from Barcelona early

Barcelona were the better side in the opening quarter hour at the Camp Nou but Real Madrid were more than up to the task early despite the pressure from the Blaugrana.

As has been the norm in recent years, Barcelona opened the match as the aggressors seeing more of the ball and testing Real Madrid's defense early as Neymar and Lionel Messi looked for a gap to exploit.

Sergio Busquets picked up the match's first yellow card -- shocking, I know -- in the 8th minute after he brought down Ángel Di Maria from behind roughly 30-yards from goal, towards the right side. Sergio Ramos got free on the ensuing free kick but was whistled for a foul inside the area, negating any potential threat.

Carlo Ancelotti's biggest lineup surprise, playing Sergio Ramos as a defensive midfielder, seemed to work well in the opening 15 minutes. The idea behind the move appears to be having Ramos anchored above the back line helping to cover Cesc Fábregas, or whomever ends up central on the attack for Barca.

In the 14th minute Ramos picked up a yellow card for a forearm shiver on Neymar. It wasn't the most violent of collisions but it wasn't his first foul either and the slight lifting of his arm into the Brazilian's chin was enough for the referee to book the Madrid man.

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El Clásico: Lineups

Carlo Ancelotti has shifted to a 4-3-3 dropping Karim Benzema and handing Gareth Bale his first Clásico start. Xavi, Iniesta and Fábregas all start for Barca.

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El Clásico: Preview and TV schedule

Happy Clásico day everyone! Find out where you can watch today's match between the Blaugrana and Los Blancos and get a final look at team news.

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What the McRib can teach us about El Clásico

Compare Spain's biggest rivalry to an American fast food sandwich and you might be shocked to discover the amazing similarities between the two. You'll also discover that a game is always better than a sandwich.

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Key decisions for El Clasico lie with Ancelotti

The format of Madrid's midfield trio and choosing between Di Maria or Bale will be the decisive factors in Sunday's Clasico.

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Real Madrid need to stop experimenting again

Real Madrid's imbalanced side gives them an immediate disadvantage against Barcelona, and Carlo Ancelotti will need to find his best side quickly.

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After a seven month wait, El Clásico returns

For the first time since March, the two biggest teams in Spain will meet and renew their legendary rivalry in this season's first edition of El Clásico.

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