First Division - Day 15

Barcelona 1 - Real Madrid 2

Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Gabri (Quaresma 46'), Reiziger, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst; Xavi, Cocu, Gerard, Motta (Saviola 78'); Luis García (Overmars 46'); Kluivert. 4-4-1-1.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Pavón, Raúl Bravo, Roberto Carlos; Beckham, Iván Helguera; Figo, Raúl (Solari 86'), Zidane; Ronaldo (Portillo 76'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Barça: Reiziger, Puyol, Gerard for Mario, Quaresma, Saviola / Madrid: No change.

0-1. 37. Roberto Carlos. Took pass from Zidane and hit low shot in off Reiziger.
0-2. 73. Ronaldo. Shot in off Cocu after Roberto Carlos passed in from left.
1-2. 83. Kluivert. Header down past Casillas from right sided corner.

All the predictions came true, and Real Madrid beat their arch-rivals Barcelona in a league match at the Nou Camp for the first time in twenty years. The signs were there though as Barcelona's recent form has been poor, with only one point from their last three games since Ronaldinho got injured, whereas the visitors came in to this match heading the table and with their team at full strength.

As usual the atmosphere was electric, although both presidents had done their best to calm nerves after the incidents in recent games, and for the first time Florentino Pérez sat next to Joan Laporta in the directors' box. Even so the Madrid players were greeted with monumental jeers and whistles when they came out, and Figo in particular was once again singled out for abuse.

With Ronaldinho failing to make the date, Frank Rijkaard opted for a defensive line up, doing away with his natural wingers to pack the midfield to stop the individualist skills of the Madrid players. It was a risky move, and effectively handed the initiative over to his opponents who were the better side in the first half. Neither side really tested the keepers though until eight minutes before the break, when Zidane got away down the left and set up Roberto Carlos to open the scoring with a shot which took an unfortunate deflection off Reiziger.

Rijkaard changed his plans at the break, bringing on Quaresma and Overmars, and the Catalans started to create some chances. Gerard had the best of them when he headed the ball straight at Casillas when free in front of goal, a miss which proved to be costly. Four minutes later Roberto Carlos found Ronaldo, and the ex Barcelona striker struck a low shot which once again was deflected by a Barcelona defender, this time Cocu, past the committed Víctor Valdés.

Rijkaard belatedly turned to Saviola, and his side finally got the goal they were looking for when Kluivert headed Xavi's corner down past Casillas. But time had run out, and Madrid held on to take the three points and keep up their two point lead at the top. History had been made, and Rijkaard is now under pressure to get a win next Saturday against city rivals Espanyol, or his job may be in danger. Thankfully for him Ronaldinho shoul be back for that match, although Puyol will be missing as he picked up a fifth booking during this game. Nerves will be on a knife-edge.