The first El Clasico of the season was a relative dud, though Real Madrid made another statement of strong defense in a 0-0 draw with Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Barca dropped points at home for the first time this season, but maintains its table edge on goal differential. All La Liga sides have now played 17 matches, with Barca and Real five points clear of third place Sevilla.
The visitors out shot Barcelona 17-9, and had 46 percent of the ball on the day.
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Zinedine Zidane’s suddenly stingy defense kept Barca out of the box for much of the game. Real has only allowed 12 goals in 17 La Liga matches this season after allowing 46 in 38 last campaign.
Barca produced the only big chances of the match aside from an offside Gareth Bale goal, but had little aside from Lionel Messi.
The Argentine great completed a remarkable 8 of 9 dribbles but missed a scoring chance. Luis Suarez was quite poor in the draw, Antoine Griezmann slightly better in his Clasico debut.
Real’s tactics became more and more reliant on the counter attack as the game wore on, and Gareth Bale ripped a shot off the outside netting in the 68th.
Bale had the ball in the back of the goal in the 72nd, but was whistled offside.
The jailing of nine Catalan separatists caused an initial postponement of the match, and perhaps the midweek legs cost both teams some class.
The match was originally scheduled for Oct. 26, and La Liga officials were so angry at the move of a marquee television match to midweek that they appealed to the courts.