Honours even in clásico surrounded by protests

Ten arrested and 64 treated for injuries in clashes between demonstrators and police after first clásico 0-0 in 17 years

The Real Madrid wall attempts to block Leo Messi's free kick shot (by REUTERS/Sergio Perez)
The Real Madrid wall attempts to block Leo Messi's free kick shot (by REUTERS/Sergio Perez) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

December 18, 2019 09:35 PM

For the first time in 17 years, a clásico match between Barcelona and Real Madrid ended goalless, as the two La Liga leaders played out a very evenly matched stalemate in the Camp Nou, amid protests and a political storm going on in the stands and outside the stadium.

The game got underway amid thousands chanting for ‘independence’ and ‘freedom for political prisoners,’ as the match came after hours of protests at the doors of the Camp Nou stadium. 

Pro-independence protest group Tsunami Democràtic wanted to agree with both clubs to display a banner reading ‘Spain, Sit and Talk’ both on the pitch and in the stands. Without reaching a deal with the clubs, the anonymous protesters displayed tens of thousands of banners at kickoff and during the second half. 

There were fears the group would attempt to prevent the game being played at all when they called for thousands to gather at four strategic points surrounding the entire Camp Nou stadium, although the group’s communications repeatedly said in the build up to the game that it was never their intention to prevent the encounter from taking place. 

In the end, the game was played without the same level of disruption that was expected, but around the half time point of the game police clashed with protesters just outside the ground, and demonstrators in turn began to build barricades and burn containers in a return to the scenes of unrest the city saw in the week of the release of the verdict of the Catalan Trial.

In total, ten people were arrested by police after the clashes. 64 people were treated for medical injuries, with 39 of those Catalan police officers. Most injuries suffered were minor, predominantly bruises from objects being thrown, but there were reports of a couple of people sustaining more serious injuries.

On the pitch, Real Madrid dominated the early stages of the encounter and put the Baça box under pressure with some tantalizing crosses from Isco. Gerard Piqué saved his side early on with a clearance on the line after X’s header from a corner had beaten ter Stegen. 

Barça’s first big chance of the game forced Sergio Ramos to make a clearance off the line shortly after Piqué’s. Courtois couldn’t deal convincingly with a cross into his box, and palmed it out to the edge of the box where Leo Messi pounced and unleashed a half volley that left the Spain defender scrambling to keep out. 

Real Madrid gave ter Stegen many problems when it came to goal kicks. Los Blancos took a very high starting position, looking to cut off as many of the goalkeeper’s passing options as possible, forcing him to try more difficult, long-range passing which often resulted in possession to the away side, allowing them to dominate the early stages of proceedings. 

Jordi Alba had the biggest chance to open the scoring shortly before the first half. His excellent run was met by an equally perfect pass over the heads of the Madrid backline from Messi, and his one-touch shot trickled wide without worrying the visiting goalkeeper. 

Gareth Bale had the ball in the back of the net in the second half after getting on the end of a Ferland Mendy cross, but Madrid’s celebrations were cut short as the linesman flagged for offside.