|First Division - Day 31|
Barcelona 1 - Real Madrid 1
Víctor Valdés; Oleguer, Puyol, Motta (Belletti 38'), Van
Bronckhorst; Van Bommel (Giuly 57'), Iniesta, Deco; Larsson, Eto'o, Ronaldinho.
Team changes: Barça: Puyol, Van Bronckhorst, Iniesta, Deco, Ronaldinho for Belletti, Rodri, Sylvinho, Gabri, Giuly / Madrid: No change.
Barcelona maintain their eleven point lead over Real Madrid but it must feel like two points that got away. As early as the third minute Van Bommel was sent clear by Ronaldinho. The Dutchman's lob beat Casillas but went wide of the keeper's right hand post.
Sergio Ramos just failed to get his head to a Beckham free kick but Valdés was rarely troubled. Casillas had plenty to do at the other end and had to beat away an Eto'o effort in the 12th minute. Heavy Barça pressure finally paid off after 20 minutes. Van Bommel picked up the ball six yards out. He was going away from goal but Roberto Carlos threw himself into an unnecessary challenge. Ronaldinho sent Casillas the wrong way with the penalty.
Things were soon to get worse for Roberto Carlos. He had been booked for dissent following the penalty incident and after complaining again after a foul on Larsson the Brazilian was given a straight red card for comments to the referee.
Barça almost doubled their lead on the half hour but Casillas again came to the rescue after saving Eto'o's close range volley. The game was so one sided at this point that when Real Madrid sent on Mejia for Robinho, it looked as if Lopez Caro was already thinking about damage limitation. But the visitors equalised with their first strike on target. The equaliser was a tale of four Brazilians. Baptista produced a pass which split Barca's defence apart. Ronaldo raced clear on the right and clipped a cool angled chip over Valdés into the far corner of the net. Motta was injured trying chase Ronaldo and had to be replaced by Belletti. The Camp Nou was stunned and Real subdued the tide towards half time with Barcelona reduced to long range shots that failed to trouble Casillas.
The home side continued to dominate in the second half. Ronaldinho found space for a snapshot but it drifted well wide of goal. Ronaldinho set up Eto'o for shot which Casillas got a hand to. Baptista hooked a shot just over in a rare Real attack at the other end. Ronaldo continued to look dangerous when running with the ball at his feet but lacked support and was reduced to throwing himself to the ground in the box. There was minimal contact from Oleguer and Ronaldo's melodramatic reaction earned him a yellow card.
Ronaldinho had been hitting free kicks into the Madrid wall all night. When he finally surprised Madrid with a quick one it flashed just wide of Casillas' goal. The Brazilian star continued to look the most likely player to produce the breakthrough. Larsson and Puyol both went for the same ball at the back post and the chance was gone. Ronaldinho then put Larsson one on one with Casillas but the Swede's effort lacked conviction and the keeper blocked again.
There were numerous other chances as the corner count reached 11-0 in Barcelona's favour. A clash of heads between Sergio Ramos and Puyol led to the Barcelona captain having to depart early. During this stoppage there was time for the customary fan on the pitch as a youth headed in the direction of his idol Ronaldinho. But it wasn't his or Barcelona's night as Madrid held on for a hard earned draw. Even in injury time Barça had another great chance when Larsson missed the target with the sort of header he normally relishes.