Barcelona 0-0 Real Madrid: Why this was the most boring El Clasico in 17 years
There was nothing to choose between Barcelona and Real Madrid as they played out the first El Clasico 0-0 since 2002 at the Nou Camp.
The match was played amid political tensions in Catalonia, with protests taking place before the game, but fortunately, both teams arrived at the stadium safely.
Madrid had the best of the first-half but Barcelona could have taken the lead against the run of play when Lionel Messi played in Jordi Alba, who could only volley an effort wide.
In the second period Gareth Bale thought he had given the visitors the lead when he tapped home from Ferland Mendy's low cross, but the linesman flagged for offside and VAR replays showed Mendy had just edged in front of the last defender.
There was still time for a bit of history as Ansu Fati became the youngest player to appear in El Clasico in the 21st century when he replaced Antoine Griezmann, but the game petered out into a disappointing draw, and one which keeps the two teams level at the top of La Liga on 36 points each.
Concerns the game would be disrupted failed to materialise, save for yellow balls hurled on to the pitch by Catalan independence supporters in the second half.
With more protests planned by Catalan campaigners there was increased security all around the stadium and helicopters buzzed overhead before kick-off.
Such were the security concerns, both teams had shared the same hotel before the match.
Thousands of peaceful campaigners protested nearby earlier in the afternoon and throughout the build-up to the game, while a display of Catalonia's red and yellow colours filled one side of the stadium at kick-off.
A cagey opening in a volatile atmosphere ensued. Bale was back in Real's starting line-up, while Ivan Rakitic replaced Sergio Busquets in Barcelona's midfield.
Real's Zinedine Zidane will have been the happier manager at half-time after his side dominated the opening 45 minutes.
But Alba volleyed the best chance of the first half wide for Barca four minutes before the break following Lionel Messi's brilliant chipped pass.
Real skipper Sergio Ramos cleared off the goal-line as Casemiro attempted to thwart Messi in the box, while Barca defender Gerard Pique had earlier done likewise from Karim Benzema's header.
Real maintained their high energy levels at the start of the second period as they continued to hog possession and quickly won the ball back when they lost it.
Despite all Real's possession, Messi threatened but failed to control Antoine Griezmann's ball inside the area and then Bale flashed a rising shot just off target at the other end.
Bale thought he had broken the deadlock in the 72nd minute, but VAR ruled Ferland Mendy was fractionally offside before delivering his pin-point low cross.
Frenkie De Jong's long-range effort failed to trouble Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Luis Suarez blazed high and wide from inside the area.
The game entered the final 10 minutes on a knife-edge, but chances were still hard to come by in both areas and as the clock ticked down neither side was prepared to risk charging forward.
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