Pique

Gerard Pique denied a penalty vs Real Madrid (Video)

Fans of Barcelona were up in arms during the first-half of their clash with Real Madrid, after Gerard Pique was denied a penalty following a challenge from Dani Carvajal.

Rivals reunite

Spain’s two biggest sides are currently locked in action in a crucial La Liga clash at the Bernabeu, with the potential for a hammer blow to reigning champions Los Blancos’ title hopes.

Zinedine Zidane’s men came into today’s clash sitting a full 11 points behind their fierce rivals in the Spanish top-flight table (with a game in hand), with many already claiming that a loss for Real will effectively put an end to any hopes that the capital giants have of retaining their crown.

Teams

The lineups of each side were announced earlier this afternoon, with Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde having been forced to once again opt for Thomas Vermaelen alongside Gerard Pique at the heart of his side’s defence, with Sergi Roberto maintaining his place at right-back, and Paulinho primed for his first taste of El Clasico from the first-whistle:

Zinedine Zidane, meanwhile, opted for strength in the middle of the park for his side, with all of Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic (who was sensational versus Barca in the Spanish Super Cup) given the nod, meaning Isco somewhat surprisingly had to make do with a spot on the bench.

Los Blancos’ strength in depth was aptly showcased by the embarrassment of riches on their bench this afternoon, with all of Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez and Isco ready to be introduced in the case that the hosts require an attacking boost:

Hard fought

After Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal correctly ruled out for offside with just 2 minutes on the clock, proceedings turned surprisingly cagey for the 20 minutes that followed this afternoon, with most of the action taking place in the middle of the park.

Chances were few and far between throughout the opening 45 minutes, with the most clear-cut falling to Paulinho and Karim Benzema, the latter of whom was unlucky to see his header come back off the post.

Flashpoint

There was one key talking point during the first-half, though, involving Barcelona stopper Gerard Pique.

The Blaugrana man was at his brilliant best over the first 45 minutes, with his penalty shout just past the half-hour mark having left fans of the visitors infuriated.

After attempting to turn in Real’s box following a corner, Spanish international teammate Dani Caravajal seemed to sweep the legs from under Pique, with referee Sanchez simply waving play on.

Check out the clash below, with the second replay particularly damning for Carvajal: