Full-time: Valdes rushes out of his goal as the whistle goes and gives the referee a piece of his mind. He is booked and then sent off. It must have been a particularly angry piece of his mind. Iniesta is then booked too. What an incident-packed end to a clásico that didn't really feel like a clásico until Mourinho shuffled his pack midway through the second half. Barcelona have every right to feel aggrieved at the non-award of the penalty but in the second half they didn't really do enough to warrant the draw. When things aren't going their way Barcelona struggle to raise their voice and make themselves heard. Madrid got in their face in the second half … and Barcelona looked scared. Thanks for your emails. If you want to join me for the M58-ico between Wigan and Liverpool you can do so here …
90 min: Barcelona are denied a clear penalty at the death. They have every right to feel aggrieved. Ramos clearly trips Adriano, who snakes into the penalty area and shapes to shoot. Ramos was nowhere near the ball as he dangled his left leg out and caught Adriano's shin. Real break and the whistle blows …
89 min: Ronaldo is decked by Daniel Alves after taking umbrage at being made to look cumbersome by some dazzling footwork. He's booked. And rightly so. Ronaldo causes havoc with the resulting free-kick, whipping it into the back post where Valdes palsm it away. Barça break with Pedro, who has a great chance to set Messi free to his left, but Arbeloa takes one for the team and trips him cynically. His name goes into the book.
87 min: Morata is felled 25 yards from goal after a naive tackle from Busquets, tripping the Madrid player when he could have stood him up. in fairness, the other defenders were all over the place so perhaps he committed the foul to prevent a goalscoring chance. Anyway, Ronaldo steps up … but on this occasion he curls the free-kick with his right foot instead of hitting it with his laces, and thuds the right post. The rebound falls to Pepe, who only has to hit the target to score, but shoots wide.
84 min: This has been an example of Mourinho forcing his will on to the game. They turned the match into a battle. They then won the battle and then they showed their quality with the addition of Ronaldo and Khedira. Barcelona have lost confidence in spades this half.
Goal! Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona (Ramos 81)
Pique concedes a cheap corner. Modric curls a decent ball into the box (nothing special, mind) for Ramos, who has a run on Pique, and glances a header into the right hand corner of the goal, where Barcelona have no one defending the post. Simple but effective. Barça are facing their third defeat in four games.
76 min: AVB wouldn't be a bad shout for next Real manager. Of all the teams around Europe at the moment who squeeze play into a small area and launch rapid counterattacks, Spurs are the next best at doing it that I have seen after Madrid. He could drag Bale with him to the Spanish capital too. Anyway, I write this as Essien collapses on to the turf after an innocuous challenge from Thiago, whose right hand appeared to brush Essien's eye. he'll be all right.
75 min: It is Real who are now playing keep ball. Khedira and Modric are enjoying the lion's share of possession, keeping it intelligently. The ball is knocked back to Pepe, who curls a delicious ball with the outside of his right foot to Morata, who peels off the shoulder of Mascherano and should score. But the youngster takes his chance too early and hits his shot straight into Valdes's midriff.
72 min: "There are two Bond films starring Dalton, both masterclasses in subtlety; for the first time showing a darker James. So it must be an excellent Clasico," offers William Holmden. It's not excellent William, but it has got dark in this second half. Real are going much more direct since Ronaldo's arrival too. His movement across the back four is giving Barça's defence a headache.
71 min: Thiago was booked some minutes ago. Messi has just bodychecked Essien too. You won't see that everyday. He sent the bullish Ivorian tumbling to the turf there. I think I preferred the harmless possession football of the first half. Oh, and Alexis Sánchez is on for David Villa.
67 min: Morata is booked for a cynical tug on Pedro. Arbeloa is on for Varane and Mourinho has got this just right. He has successfully upset the rhythm of the game. Barça haven't had a meaningful spell of possession in the past 15 minutes.
64 min: Ronaldo forces a smart save from Valdes with a free-kick from all of 35 yards. It swerved in the way only his – OK and perhaps Gareth Bale's these days – free-kicks do. It was the result of another cynical challenge by someone. I can't keep up with them. The whistle is blowing faster than me when I go jogging. And I jog pretty fast.
61 min: This has suddenly got a bit feisty. Well, in that annoying way in which a clásico gets feisty. A few cynical challenges a bit of overreacting and a few yellow cards dished out. So that's Ramos, Coentao, Alba and Pique booked since half time.
57 min: Ronaldo and Khedira are on for Kaka and Benzema. Ronaldo immediately gains possession on the left and draws a floul from Pique who goes to ground naively when he should have stayed tall and blocked teh cross. He is booked, harshly for clipping the Real Madrid winger. Ronaldo hits his trademark free-kick in from an impossible angle. It was never bothering goal but causes considerable panic as it bounces in awkwardly and canons off a collection of legs before being booted clear.
56 min: Messi picks up possession midway inside the Real half. He takes one touch and shifts the ball on as sharp as you like to David Villa. He is ahead of Varane, but the youngster pegs him back and blocks his shot brilliantly as Diego Lopez rushed out. Should be a corner but it isn't given.
55 min: The Real fans are getting excited. The reason? No, Sid Lowe hasn't stripped off at the Bernabéu. But Cristiano Ronaldo has. Well, he's taken his tracksuit off anyway.
52 min: Barça end a three-minute spell of near-full possession with a lovely incisive move around the penalty area, with Messi, then Iniesta evading a couple of challenges and pop-pop-popping the ball out to Pedro inside the area on the right. He drills a ball low across the six-yard box behind Real's defence and just in front of a stranded Diego Lopez, but Messi can't quite stretch his little frame enough to convert the cross into a goal. Lovely stuff.
49 min: Ramos is penalised for what looked like a shove on Pedro on the right wing. It's made the co-commentator, a certain Andy Gray, very hot and bothered. He needs to calm down. It looked like a shove to me. The free-kick comes to nought as Barça hardly bother sending anyone into the box to attack it. They know they'll have the ball back shortly in any case.
47 min: From the resulting free-kick Mascherano, yes him again, has a shot from the halfway line. Yup. It goes wide. And wasn't troubling Diego Lopez anyway. Mascherano has never scored for Barcelona. Funny that.
45 min: We're back underway. There don't appear to have been any substitutions. Real win a free-kick 40 yards from Barça's goal. It is whipped in from the left by Modric, but Mascherano, of all people, leaps highest to head clear. Moments later, Essien catches Villa with a cynical late tackle and is lucky not to be booked.
If somebody can explain to me what the meaning of this email is, I'd appeciate it. "I need help," begins Nicholas Ayanleke in Lagos. "I'm following this mbm and all of a sudden the race in which Paula Radcliffe takes a toilet break midrace still wins the race pops to mind! Why, I ask meself? I don't know, but how did the other runners continue to race afterward knowing that even with a toilet break, they couldn't cut it? How can life be so cruel, I ask you?" Thanks Nicholas. Erm, readers? Is he suggesting this clásico is a mere toilet break in the grander race that the hundreds of previous clásicos represent.
Hmmm, in the absence of any emails, I'll offer a comparison. If this clásico was a James Bond film it would probably be the one with Timothy Dalton in it.
Well, what started out as a pretty open game, soon descended into a practice session for Barcelona's possession game. But you can't blame either side for how it has turned out. Barcelona don't need to win and are happy to play keep ball after Tuesday's chastening. While Real's second string aren't expected to win and are clearly not the well-oiled counterattacking machine of Ronaldo-Alonso et al. Back with your emails shortly.
45 min: Nothing happening here. Barça happily in possession. Real happily stacked up with two banks of four. Blow your whistle Mr Referee.
43 min: This is all pretty tame stuff. Barça are keeping possession between their own 18 yard-box and halfway into Real's half. They are then losing it only to be presented with possession again within five seconds by an errant Real Madrid pass. Did I say they are missing Alonso? Thought so. Kaka is fluffing his chance to impress before Tuesday. He's been anonymous.
39 min: Real are trying to force play too much and are giving away possession too cheaply. They are badly missing Alonso, never mind Ronaldo. Modric shows a rare bit of invention for the home team, drawing Busquets in to a tackle and nicking the ball in front of him before hanging a cross to the back post where Morata heads into the side netting when he should have squared it for Benzema, who would have had a free header on goal.
37 min: Iniesta plays a delicious ball out to Villa without even looking. He doesn't have to look. He just knows. Villa takes a touch and drives into the box but bends his shot wide from 15 yards under little pressure. He should have done much better with that chance.
35 min: "Hey no disrespect but as a long time Madrid fan 'that other Argentine genius' must refer to Alfredo diStefano," chides Gene Salorio. Point taken.
32 min: David Villa picks the ball up on the left and scuttles forwards with it. He does nothing spectacular but send in a left-footed low ball towards Messi. It should be cut out by either Ramos or Varane but isn't. And it falls to Messi on the edge of the box. The Argentinian, shuffles the ball on to his unfavoured right foot but rushes his shot as though surprised to have gained possession in the first place, sending it straight down Diego Lopez's throat when trying to curl it round him.
29 min: Barcelona have just held on to the ball for a good minute and a half. They were going absolutely nowhere with it but you got the feeling they thoroughly enjoyed drawing out a crescendo of jeers from the home fans. Pique ,umps it forwards eventually as though bored with the game.
28 min: "Messi needed that, didn't he? He'd begun to look like a shadow of the player we saw last season. Only 1.25 goals a game in 2012-13, I mean, c'mon. Who does he think he is, Ronaldo?" parps Simon McMahon.
27 min: The match has kind of descended into a stand-off, with both teams unwilling to commit players forwards for fear of being caught behind. It will suit Barça more than Real.
25 min: Pepe falls to the turf in the kind of faux-agony that only he can. He was fouled, however. But only a hammer to the shins, Tony Soprano-style, could have realistically made him squeal with the kind of gusto he just displayed.
24 min: Essien and Modric combine well on the right for Real. Essien playing a one-two with his little team-mate before drilling a cross into the Barcelona box that is easily cleared.
22 min: It's gone a little quiet at the Bernabéu now. The home fans can sense the tide shifting with Barça looking more dominant, pressing Real out of possession when they lose it, as they did in the good old days of … erm … a few weeks ago.
20 min: That's 50 goals in 39 games for Barcelona this season. Not bad. Messi also draws level with Di Stefano for goals scored in clásicos. He's on 18 now. And he is sure to beat that total – maybe even in this match.
Goal! Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (Messi 18)
Who else? Messi's run to get away from Ramos after Thiago's ball from midfield is impeccably timed. He takes one touch, cuts inside Ramos 12 yards from goal, and drills a left footed shot into the inside corner of Diego Lopez's goal. It's a decent finish but the goalkeeper should have done much better. Messi silences those cretinuous critics, mind.
15 min: Ramos yanks Iniesta back by his collar after being sent the wrong way by a lovely piece of skill. The free-kick is played into Pedro, who takes a touch – a fine one – before just overhitting a dinked ball through to Messi who was attempting to get in front of Varane on the inside-left channel.
13 min: This is better from Barça. David Villa is making himself available on the left and providing an outlet for Iniesta. Up until now Barça have got bogged down in the middle with Essien, Kaka and Modric stopping the flow of play forwards.
11 min: Thiago almost squirts the ball through to Messi on the edge of the box, but Ramos cuts it out and hoofs it clear.
10 min: Barcelona look shaky in possession. How often do you read that?
8 min: That is just the goal the game needed to get it going. Barcelona have been given a deserved kick up the backside by Benzema.
Goal! Real Madrid 1-0 Barcelona (Benzema 6)
Well, this is abject defending by Barça. Morata is given an age on the left to pick out Benzema with a cross into the six-yard box. Alves was just not interested in closing him down. The ball into the box is OK but it could be comfortably cut out by either Pique or Mascherano. They let it bounce in front of them and Benzema finishes with ease from three yards with Valdes stranded.
5 min: Kaka and Benzema combine well down the right, to release the big striker into teh box. He tries to shift the ball on to his left foot for a shot, but he is harried out of possession by a combination of Mascherano and Pique.
4 min: " Hawrite Gregg!" hollers Ryan Dunne. "Talk of anthems has me thinking: would it not be great if both sides, home and away, got an official song sung before league games kicked off, like at international games? This would surely help promote peace and mutual understanding! My team, the Glorious Glasgow Rangers, could have ''Follow Follow'', say, while I'm sure Shakira would be up for singing the Barca anthem!" I think you need to get your tongue out of your cheek Ryan.
3 min: Mascherano drills a delicious pass out 50 yards to Alves on the right, his first touch is good, but his second is a blocked cross and the Barça full-back is faced with a long old run back to his station, which he often doesn't take as seriously as is he could or should.
Peep! We are off. Madrid, in their famous white, are attacking from left to right on my screen. Barcelona, in their kind of blue and red stripes, are going t'other way.
The teams are out. This is lovely. Shadows cast across the green Bernabéu turf, Madrid's anthem belting out and smiles all around. It looks as though they are all friends out there. Ah, the difference a sunny day can make to one's mood. It even makes Kings Cross seem pleasant.
Having questioned Real's ability to attack with pace without Ronaldo, if Benzema runs as fast as he drives they may not miss him at all.
I now have pictures from the Bernabéu. It's a bit weird seeing it full to the rafters and bathed in sunlight. It looks like a World Cup match is about to kick off.
This may be my favourite ever goal in a clásico. Scored by that other Argentinian genius.
"I've read somewhere that, like Xavi, Fábregas played the midweek cup tie on painkillers. But Thiago is a ridiculous talent, yet another in a line of those Barcelona homegrown midfielders," writes Phil Podolsky, who seems a bit giddy with excitement.
"No Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid, but no Xavi for Barça; Thiago Alcántara is usually neat and occasionally incisive, but if he's next in line to take Fábregas's place as the eventual replacement for Xavi, he's going to have to move up a gear. Meanwhile the team looks - apart from Iniesta - sterile and tired. Sadly, they'll probably lose again today, Cristiano's absence notwithstanding," reckons Charles Antaki. I'm not so sure Charles. I can't see Real counterattacking with the same speed as they do normally, particularly without Alonso to there to launch them.
You have to fancy Barça given the changes made to the Real team. The biggest surprise in the Barcelona lineup is that Fabregas doesn't get the chance to pull the strings in midfield in Xavi's absence. I'd always assumed he was Xavi's long-term replacement.
And here's the Ronaldo-less Real Madrid team: Diego Lopez; Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Coentrao; Modric, Kaka, Essien; Callejon, Morata, Benzema. Subs to be confirmed.
The Barcelona team is in: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta; Villa, Messi and Pedro. Subs to be confirmed.
So there you have it. Valentine's Day 14 years ago was the last afternoon clásico. It was a Sunday afternoon though, not a Saturday. If anyone can tell me when the last Saturday afternoon one was, I will say: "Well done you". High praise indeed.
El clásico? On a Saturday afternoon? Really? I'm not sure I have ever seen these two sides meet in daylight hours. But then I'm not a Spanish pensioner. Perhaps the scheduling reflects Barça's utter dominance in La Liga this season; they're 16 points clear of Real, who sit third, four points behind Atlético. José Mourinho has long since given up the ghost on the league. And as well he might given that his priorities are very much pinned on knocking Manchester United out of the Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
And it is that match that will probably colour Real's team selection today. Expect a shuffle of the pack from the Madrid team that chastened a pretty abject Barcelona at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey last week, with Kaká, Marcelo and Pepe likely to come in.
As for Barça, if you had fallen to earth from outer space, somehow managed to avoid severe injury and landed next to a pile of newspapers full of articles about them, you’d believe the club was on the verge of relegation. It’s fair to say their form has fallen away since Tito Vilanova’s sporadic appearances on the touchline due to ill health. Three wins, two defeats and two draws is pretty average. But Barça are not average. Vilanova’s clever tactical changes and influence on the team’s intensity have been missed, sure – against Milan and Madrid, Barça were predictable. But I still believe their biggest problem is the absurdly high standards they have set themselves.
It's true that they could benefit from a centre-back and an injection of a more direct forward. Signing Alex Song was not a priority. But they can be forgiven a couple of defeats. Their style is what it is. And it isn't going to change drastically while their squad consists entirely of midfielders. Let’s not forget that they have dominated for the past few years with a reasonably modest number of players in their squad. Perhaps fatigue, more than any other reason, is why they have suffered costly defeats towards the end of recent seasons.
Anyway, they have a few damn good reasons to be motivated for today's match: pride, Vilanova, the chance to make a few journalists eat their words and the prospect of going a whopping 19 points clear of Real at the Bernabéu wouldn’t be half bad too. I expect it could be a surprisingly open game, as Real won't wave the white flag in front of a boisterous home crowd, whether they field a weakened team or not.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona
Gregg will be here shortly. In the meantime, here's what Kaká had to say ahead of the clásico:
Madrid beat their rivals 3-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday to knock them out of the Copa del Rey, while Barcelona are also in danger of exiting the Champions League as they trail Milan 2-0 heading into the return leg of their last-16 tie in 10 days' time.
"We are not thinking about sending them into a crisis, we're just thinking about what we need to do," Kaká said. However, the Brazilian midfielder did concede Madrid had been lifted by Tuesday's result, adding that they now hope to close the gap on the runaway league leaders.
"It's always great for us to beat Barcelona," he said. "We have now shown we can beat anyone and that has made us feel very positive. We go into the game with a lot of confidence and we have to get three points tomorrow to reduce the gap from 16 points to 13."
With Madrid facing Manchester United in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League at Old Trafford next week, José Mourinho is expected to rest several of his usual first-team players against Barcelona. Kaká revealed the players had not been told who would play on Saturday at the Bernabéu but was excited about the prospect of facing Barcelona, as it would give him the chance to prove his worth in a big match.
"He hasn't told us what the team will be, he will make the decision tomorrow," Kaká said. "It could be a great occasion for me, to show that I can still do great things for the team in important matches. It will be a great opportunity for me if I play tomorrow."
The Spanish media has reported that Cristiano Ronaldo will be left on the substitutes' bench as a precaution ahead of the trip to Old Trafford, while the Catalan press believes that Eric Abidal, who has not played a competitive match for over a year following a liver transplant, could return to the Barcelona squad. However, Xavi has been ruled for Barça with a hamstring injury he suffered on Tuesday.