Barcelona vs. Real Madrid  2 - 2

Article

Ramos refrains from questioning ref

8 October 2012 12:59

Sergio Ramos claims Real Madrid do not discuss refereeing performances after their 2-2 La Liga draw at Barcelona on Sunday.

Spain international Ramos feels Real should have been awarded a penalty for a foul on Mesut Oezil inside the penalty area at Camp Nou.

He flagged the incident after the match, but stopped short of condemning the performance of referee Carlos Delgado Ferreiro.

"He is a referee who I like. Oezil's penalty seemed clear, but we are not a team that enters into debates about referees," Sergio Ramos said.

"We are happy about the team's hard work and good display. We went out to play from the beginning, but we're going home with a bittersweet feeling.

"If we had won it would not have surprised anyone, but these things happen in football. On other occasions we have acknowledged that Barcelona were better but that would not have been what happened on Sunday if we had won."

Real Madrid sit fifth in La Liga following this weekend's results, trailing joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by eight points.

Article

Vilanova, Mourinho settle for Clasico point

8 October 2012 04:17

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova says he was pleased with his side's performance in the 2-2 draw with Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Two goals apiece from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ensured the points were shared between Spain's two most successful clubs, meaning Barcelona remain eight points ahead of their rivals in La Liga.

Despite not being able to pick up the three points, Vilanova was impressed with the way his side approached the game.

"I am very satisfied with the performance and the way we approached the game," Vilanova told reporters.

"With the ambition to dominate and try to deal with the game, to be offensive, knowing that they can catch you on the break.

"They are a very quick team, they have players that have that quality and they are one of the best teams at the moment.

"But with the result I think it was a game that we could have won with the chances we had."

Vilanova also played down the hostile relationship between himself and Real counterpart Jose Mourinho, claiming the two managers now share a mutual respect.

Mourinho stole the headlines during last season's Super Cup clash after he poked Vilanova in the eye when the Spaniard was assistant to Pepe Guardiola.

"We saw each other, we shook hands and he told me that it was a great game," Vilanova said.

"I did the same, before I didn't have a relationship with him and now we respect each other.

"Before when I was the second coach he didn't really speak to me but we have a good relationship."

Mourinho lauded Ronaldo and Messi for their efforts on Sunday.

The dual UEFA Champions League winning coach was positive about his side's performance despite failing to close the gap on their fiercest rivals and admitted he enjoyed the match - especially the talismanic pair's displays.

"Messi and Ronaldo are from another planet. I want my player to win, but they are both fantastic," Mourinho said.

"As a coach, I've enjoyed the game. It was a great match and the result wasn't decided until the final moment. Everyone has enjoyed the game too."

Mourinho also reserved praise for the performance of German midfielder Mesut Oezil, telling reporters: "Oezil provided us with quality and had a great match."

Article

Messi plays down Mourinho´s influence

7 October 2012 10:02

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has played down the significance of Jose Mourinho's influence in the upcoming Clasico with Real Madrid.

The 49-year-old has arguably intensified relations between the two clubs since being named as Manuel Pellegrini's successor in the Blancos' dugout two years ago, with recent derby encounters being embroiled in controversy.

However, the forward insists the Portuguese is only doing what is asked of him, while also praising Madrid counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo and team-mate David Villa, contradicting recent media reports that the duo had fallen out.

"He's a good coach who does his job. So is Cristiano Ronaldo, [who is] a great player," Messi told todo-barcelona.net. "Villa is also a great guy that nobody can be wrong about."

He was then quizzed on the impact Tito Vilanova has made on the Catalan giants in comparison to that of Pep Guardiola, and was adamant that the former assistant would only preserve his predecessor's legacy at Camp Nou.

"[With Tito], you will see the same Barcelona from past seasons," he added. "Our style of play will not change because Tito thinks like Pep in this regard. There is no change.

"Pep left a mark on the history of football. He gave me the bonus of playing in different positions on the field and that's something he did with the team.

"He changed and reinforced the philosophy of playing good football, but with the perfect balance in defence and attack."

Santos starlet Neymar continues to be heavily linked with a move to Barca, but Messi was coy over the idea of becoming team-mates with the Brazilian, instead preferring to focus on his own game ahead of Sunday's blockbuster.

"That's something you should ask the coaching staff," he conceded. "Modesty must be recognised as the number one trait in world football.

"I work everyday to reach my best, but my goal is not to be the best. I never think about my strengths and weaknesses, I prefer to ignore the critics. In football, anything is controversial."

The striker then concluded on the topic of his career with Argentina, and while he admitted that not experiencing his native country's football initially harmed his chances of enjoying international success, he was delighted to have won over the hearts of his compatriots.

"I think not playing in Argentina took its toll on me, but that's life," Messi maintained. "I give everything in every game with the national team. I want to win in this shirt and time will prove me right.

"I wear the captain's armband with pride. It serves as a reminder that you have added responsibility, but I would not change it at all."

Article

Iniesta sees great opportunity

7 October 2012 06:26

Barcelona star Andres Iniesta has labelled the clash against Real Madrid as a great chance for his team to extend their lead atop La Liga.

Jose Mourinho's men have stuttered during the opening weeks of the campaign, and Iniesta is keen to heap additional misery on their title rivals by securing a valuable victory on Sunday.

"We have the opportunity to take a great advantage against a direct rival," he told ESPN. "This game is a different one to all the others, one with a lot of tension.

"The destination of the title is not yet definitive, as we have seen from the past games what the failings from either side in this encounter cause.

"The start of the season was a good one and the team are doing well, but now we have to keep getting better."

The Euro 2012 winner is in prime contention for this year's Ballon d'Or, alongside fellow El Clasico protagonists Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Article

Gonzalez: Refereeing a Clasico is easy

6 October 2012 18:32

Former La Liga referee Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez says Spain's Clasico is a relatively easy match to officiate, despite the passion it inspires.

Barcelona against Real Madrid is one of those fixtures fans across the globe look out for; it is not only televised, but analysed and scrutinised. And if the referee gets it wrong, he will be criticised.

But Iturralde Gonzalez, a veteran of several Clasico clashes, feels the referee of Sunday's match at Camp Nou, Carlos Delgado Ferreiro, should relax and enjoy the experience.

"If I had to give a piece of advice to Delgado Ferreiro, I would tell him to enjoy the Clasico because it is one of those games that should be enjoyed," Iturralde Gonzalez told Goal.com.

"There are more stars on the pitch than up in the sky. He will enjoy it a great deal; it's one of those games with very few offsides for the assistants - in fact, it's one of the easiest games to officiate at all.

"There can be a lot of repercussions in the media. This country stops for the Clasico and there is a lot of pressure and tension, but refereeing it is very easy.

"It's much harder to officiate at the end of the season when teams can go down - those are difficult games to take charge of. It's just that they receive less media spotlight. But there are more nerves, there's more tension."

Iturralde, who presided over three Clasicos including Barcelona's 5-0 win over Jose Mourinho's Madrid in November 2010, claims he misses the adrenaline of overseeing big games.

"I live football with the same intensity but in a different way," he said. "I have a dental laboratory, where I have always worked, but I miss football. It's my passion and if I told you I didn't miss it, I'd be lying.

"But more than the football, I miss the travelling and the moment when you step out on to the pitch, the tension in the stadiums. That's what I miss most.

"Now I follow it as a fan - I don't have those butterflies in my stomach that I had every weekend or the pains in my legs when I would go to sleep after the game."

Article

Donovan backing Real Madrid

6 October 2012 15:54

LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan thinks Real Madrid will prevail in a close encounter over bitter rivals Barcelona in Sunday's El Clasico.

The 30-year-old said the clash between football's two superpowers will have the attention of every fan in the world and assured the public that the spectacle will be worth it.

"For all of us football fans it's one of the games we most look forward to watching every year or many times a year. This will be no different and it's going to be exciting," Donovan told Marca.

When the former Everton player was pressed to predict the result he gave Real the advantage, despite their stuttering start to the season.

"It's hard to decide who's going to win a game like this. I just hope it’s exciting and I hope (there are) lots of goals," he said.

"I'll say Madrid because they need to win - they are struggling."

Article

Del Bosque desires uneventful Clasico

6 October 2012 12:14

Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque is hopeful none of his players will be injured in Sunday's clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

El Clasico has been marred by controversy and physical bust-ups in recent years, leading to rumours of a rift between the opposing club players when representing the national side.

Del Bosque is hopeful of a peaceful encounter this time out however, in what he calls a 'good game'.

"(I hope) no one gets injured and that we can enjoy the two best teams in Spain," the Salamanca native said at a press conference.

"It is a good game to enjoy, (provided) external affairs are not involved."

The 61-year old went on to reveal the reasons behind the omissions of certain established players from his latest Spain squad, which saw the likes of Barcelona's Gerard Pique and Chelsea's Juan Mata miss out.

He added: "(Pique) has not trained a single day and I do not know if he will even play on Sunday. I have not spoken to him, or Tito (Vilanova), or the doctors. Because he has not trained it is not convenient for him to come.

"Mata is not on the list because of an agreement with Chelsea, as he had no vacation over summer.

"We have a problem of quantity, not quality. We have a lot of potential players."

Article

Ronaldo not the only threat, says Busquets

6 October 2012 11:37

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets insists there is more to Real Madrid than just Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the El Clasico.

The Portugal international has impressed in recent weeks with a string of fine performances as he netted trebles against both Deportivo La Coruna and Ajax.

But Busquets feels Ronaldo is by no means Madrid's only threat ahead of the clash at Camp Nou on Sunday.

"Our aim is to be better than Madrid, not just than Cristiano Ronaldo. We cannot focus on just one player," Busquets told Channel Cuatro.

"And we have to be alert at all times. Paying attention for just 88 minutes is worth nothing."

The midfielder said Sunday's game would not be decisive in the title race as there was still plenty of football to be played this term.

"It's a surprise that Madrid are eight points behind, but there are a lot of games left to play in the league and they are capable of putting a good run together," Busquets said.

"Madrid are a great team and they can win any match. Last year they had a fantastic run and they could do it again."

Article

Rivaldo backs Barca to win El Clasico

6 October 2012 09:08

Rivaldo believes Barcelona have what it takes to bag the three points in Sunday's Liga match against Real Madrid at Camp Nou.

Barca beat their arch-rivals 3-2 at home in the Spanish Supercopa earlier this season after Real Madrid won the league title in 2011/12.

Rivaldo, who played for Barcelona for five years beginning in 1997, believes Real Madrid face a tough task in Catalunya.

"It’s a difficult match. Complicated. You never know what’s going to happen because Madrid have a great side and they’ve won at Camp Nou in the past," he told the club's website.

"But playing at home, I think Barca can win."

The Brazilian then went on to praise Tito Vilanova and said the coach would be successful at the club.

"Vilanova is a brilliant coach. Now, being (Pep) Guardiola’s replacement, who did a great job, he has a good opportunity," Rivaldo said.

"I’m sure he’ll succeed, because he has a team that plays really well – they make football easy. I think things will go well for him."

Rivaldo also had words of praise for Lionel Messi and the other Barca players.

"I really like humble players like Messi. I think that all the Barcelona players are humble. That’s why they do what they do," he said.

Article

Alkorta: Mourinho went too far

5 October 2012 20:01

Former Real Madrid defender Rafael Alkorta says Jose Mourinho's eye-gouging of Tito Vilanova was the worst thing he has seen in a Clasico match.

Alkorta, 44, won two Liga titles with the club during the 1990s and experienced several crunch clashes with arch-rivals Barcelona.

But Alkorta described the infamous eye gouging incident, in which Mourinho physically hurt Barca coach Tito Vilanova in August 2011, as 'the worst gesture' he had seen between the two teams.

"Mourinho, I understand him to a certain extent, when he did everything to provoke," Alkorta told France Football.

"I've played and seen many clasicos and I can assure you that this is the worst gesture that has ever existed in the history of this rivalry.

"It is normal to get excited in such an action packed game, but on that occasion Mourinho went too far."

Alkorta said the former Chelsea and Inter Milan coach had no need to add any further fuel to the rivalry between the two clubs.

"Mourinho no longer needs to ignite El Clasico," he said.

"Today's Real is stronger, especially mentally. He demonstrated, especially in La Liga last season, that Madrid had lost their complex and they could make their law, even in Camp Nou.

"What happened last time was because he knew that his team was less (not as good) on the pitch and it was necessary to find tricks to try to beat Barca."

Article

Toshack: Real must not lose

5 October 2012 19:20

Former Real Madrid coach John Toshack feels a defeat for his old side in Sunday's El Clasico would be a hammer blow for their title defence.

His former club sit in sixth place and trail their bitter rivals Barcelona, who are top, by eight points.

The 63-year-old believes Real cannot afford to lose this weekend's game due to the considerable points difference between the two sides so early in the season.

"A draw would not be a bad result," he told Marca.

"It's not the same to come away eight points behind as 11 points behind. But if Real loses it will be a different matter.

"It's still very early in the season, it's only October, but as Juanito (Juan Gomez Gonzalez) would say, it will be a 'molto longos' (very long) seven months if the gap opens up to 11 points."

Despite the differing starts the two sides have made, Toshack does not believe that will have a bearing on the match.

"If (Gerard) Pique doesn’t recover in time, it could be a decisive factor," he said.

"His absence, along with that of (Carles) Puyol, could be a real problem for Barcelona. Real Madrid will head into the game with the aim of taking advantage of the situation.

"It's obvious the (Javier) Mascherano-(Alex) Song partnership is not ideal for these types of games. Puyol's absence is a psychological advantage for Real. I'm not a big fan of Mascherano as a centre-back."

Toshack reserved some kind words for Tito Vilanova following his promising start at Camp Nou.

"He is proving his tactical awareness. His team's games until now have been almost impeccable," he said.

Article

McManaman: No bigger game than Clasico

5 October 2012 16:53

Steve McManaman believes Spain's El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona is the biggest game in football.

Barca and Real lock horns in La Liga for the first time this season on Sunday, with Jose Mourinho's reigning champions sitting eight points behind their rivals.

McManaman, who spent four years at Real Madrid, played in numerous derby encounters in his time in Spain, and said that the rivalry is unlike any other he has encounteres.

"When you play at Camp Nou, certainly from when you play at home, everyone knows it's two factions within Spain – the Catalans against the Madridistas, Catalunya against Spain – their instant dislike for each other, their rivalry, their religion," McManaman told Goal.com.

"It's a very strange match; fuelled by a long, long, centuries old divisive aim where, generally they dislike each other so much.

"There's a lot of rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United, certainly, and Liverpool and Everton, but I've never seen rivalry of this standard because of the nature of the political factions within Spain."

Article

Xavi looking for triple treat

5 October 2012 15:12

Barcelona midfielder Xavi says scoring a hat-trick in Sunday's La Liga clash with Real Madrid is something he wants to tick off his to-do list.

The 32-year-old has won numerous trophies both at club and international level, but still awaits his first hat-trick, and he sees the Clasico as the perfect opportunity for yet another milestone.

"Is there something I have left to do? Scoring a hat-trick - I would be delighted to score one against Madrid," Xavi said.

"We're not really thinking about whether a win would worsen the problems in Madrid's squad. We are focused on winning, which would be good for our morale."

The influential playmaker discussed the situation of injured players such as Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal, who is continuing his recovery from a liver transplant earlier this year.

"At this moment, there's a 50 percent chance that Pique will play against Madrid.

"Puyol's injury is a real shame. You can't ask a player to hold back. He's an example on and off the pitch and always gives his all.

"Abidal? He is very motivated to get back."

Barcelona are in talks with Xavi's agent over a new deal, and the Spain international believes an agreement is only a matter of time.

"I'm at the best club in the world, I'd like to retire here. My agent talks with the club about a renewal, there won't be any problem."

Article

Cruyff: Clasico season-defining for Real

5 October 2012 10:03

Barcelona icon Johan Cruyff said reigning La Liga champions Real Madrid cannot afford to lose Sunday's El Clasico at Camp Nou.

Jose Mourinho's side trail Barca by eight points after just six games, and Cruyff said they will find themselves in a precarious situation if they are beaten in the Clasico.

"Normally you don't know what is going to happen, but this time I think that Madrid are in more danger than ever because they are so far behind," Cruyff told Sky Sports.

"If they lose this one it is like having the whole world falling over you. These are normally the games I fear the most. Madrid will do more than everything to change this situation around.

"Mourinho will be under a lot of pressure after Sunday if they lose. Then there is a big problem.

"It could be (a tipping point). If (they) play seven or eight games and - if he loses - they will be so far behind (Barca). There's no excuse (for that)."

Article

La Liga preview: El Clasico dominates Spanish top flight

4 October 2012 12:09

Alex Song and Javier Mascherano are set to play in central defence for Barcelona against Real Madrid due to Carlos Puyol's dislocated elbow.

Puyol dislocated his elbow when he landed awkwardly after going for a header in Barcelona's 2-0 Champions League win over Benfica on Tuesday and the Catalan club's head coach Tito Vilanova is likely to play Song and Mascherano in Sunday's El Clasico versus Real Madrid.

Song and Mascherano are both more known as defensive midfielders but with regular central defenders Puyol and Gerard Pique injured and Eric Abidal still recovering from a liver transplant, Vilanova believes he has no other option.

"I have always said it, we have always had problems in central defence but we will get through it," Vilanova said.

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho will be thrilled at the prospect of sending Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain out against Barcelona's improvised defence.

Mourinho's side have started their La Liga campaign slowly with three wins and a draw from six games but thumped Ajax Amsterdam 4-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday with Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick and Karim Benzema also getting on the scoresheet.

Sunday will also see second-placed Atletico Madrid host Malaga, who are third in La Liga's standings, with the former set to go top of the league if they win and Barcelona lose.

But Atletico Madrid will take on the best defensive side in Spain's top tier with Malaga having conceded just two goals this season.

Malaga head into the game on the back of a 3-0 win away to Anderlecht in the Champions League to continue their perfect start to the continental club competition.

Celta Vigo and Sevilla will get the weekend's La Liga action underway on Friday, while on Saturday, Rayo Vallecano host Deportivo La Coruna, Real Zaragoza face Getafe, Valladolid will play Espanyol and Real Betis take on Real Sociedad.

In other fixtures, Levante host a derby clash with Valencia, Granada travel to Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao are up against Osasuna.

Article

Messi: Clasico not about revenge

3 October 2012 15:51

Barcelona star Lionel Messi says his team will not be looking for revenge when they host Real Madrid on Sunday at Camp Nou.

The Catalans were defeated over two legs in the Spanish Super Cup by Real in August and succumbed to a decisive 2-1 loss to Mourinho's team in April, which sealed the Liga title for the capital club.

Messi, though, believes Barca should just concentrate on winning the match and forget about the previous results.

"The team has no desire for revenge, we just want to win," he said after their Champions League victory over Benfica on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old was instrumental in his side's 2-0 win over the Portuguese giants in the, providing the assists for both goals.

"We knew that Benfica would be a tough opponent, but luckily we got an early goal and the second followed it.

"We won today and that is what is important. Now a match unlike anything else awaits. We know how the derbies can be and we have to start preparing from tomorrow."

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +75 100
2 38 +61 85
3 38 +34 76
4 38 +21 66
5 38 +13 65
6 38 +3 57
7 38 +1 56
8 38 -16 53
9 38 +4 50
10 38 -14 47
11 38 -17 46
12 38 -21 45
13 38 -9 44
14 38 -9 43
15 38 -17 42
16 38 -17 39
17 38 -15 37
18 38 -29 36
19 38 -23 35
20 38 -25 34