Barcelona vs Real Madrid EL Clasico: There was tension
Ernesto Valverde says he sensed strain as yellow balls fell on the ground as violence mars El Clasico tie between Barcelona and Real Madrid
Barcelona: Barcelona and Real Madrid could not be separated on Wednesday in a Clasico that was overshadowed by violent clashes between Catalan independence protesters and police outside Camp Nou. After being postponed in October, there were renewed fears of unrest around Spain's most famous fixture and while the match was only briefly interrupted by yellow beach balls thrown onto the pitch, outside the stadium, chaos ensued. Masked protesters had set bins on fire and thrown rocks and glass bottles at police, who responded by firing foam bullets.
Forty-six people were lightly injured in the clashes, including eight who needed to be taken to a medical centre for extra care, local emergency services said. Five people were arrested, according to a police spokesman. The protesters, many of them carrying Catalan separatist flags, began setting up barricades in the middle of the street which they then burned, after police arrived in dozens of police vans. Inside the stadium, the match passed largely undisturbed, save for a brief pause early in the second half as dozens of yellow beach balls had to be removed by stewards.
A protester waves a Catalan pro-independence Estelada flag next to garbage containers burning outside the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona
"There was tension in the game and I noticed when some yellow balls fell down," said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde. "But nothing more. We tried to give a sense of normality." "Everyone wanted to see a good football match," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. "In that sense I think we can be happy."
The game was less eventful than expected, with neither Barcelona nor Real ever really at their best and both, perhaps in the end, happier not to win than to lose.
Barca stay on top
A goalless draw means Barcelona stay top of La Liga, ahead of Real on goal difference while the historic score in league meetings between the two rivals remains 72 victories apiece.
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