Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals each as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid drew a vibrant "Clasico" 2-2 in Barca's Camp Nou Stadium on Sunday.
The two best players in the world produced suitably stellar performances to ensure honors ended even in a game either side could have won, but in which a draw was probably the fairest result.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova produced a major surprise in his starting lineup with Gerard Pique unable to recover from his ankle injury, he opted to play Adriano alongside Javier Mascherano in a three-man defense.
Adriano has spent all of his career as either a wide playing midfielder or a full back, it was a big risk to take, although Vilanova probably hoped the Brazilian's pace would help counter that of Madrid forwards Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel de Maria and Karim Benzema
Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho meanwhile gave a vote of confidence to Mesut Ozil in the attacking midfield role, leaving Luka Modric and Kaka on the substitute bench.
Madrid showed they knew what they were playing at from the start, Mourinho's side looked to pressure Barca on the ball and then break in numbers.
Benzema missed the first chance of the game after 12 minutes after a well-worked move found him in acres of space in the Barca area only for him to slice his volley horribly wide.
Real Madrid had a huge height advantage over Barca with the average Madrid player 8 centimeters higher than their average rival and Ramos should have scored from a corner, only to head wide after out-jumping the Barca defense.
A Madrid goal looked likely and Ronaldo scored after 25 minutes with a left foot shot following a good passing move. A minute later Benzema produced a far worse miss, somehow hitting the post when unmarked at the edge of the six yard box.
Dani Alves had to leave the pitch injured for Barca and was replaced by Martin Montoya, whose entry gave Barca better shape in defense.
Messi equalized after 30 minutes taking advantage of a defensive mix-up in the Madrid back line to fire past Iker Casillas from close range after good work by Pedro Rodriguez on the Barca right.
The second half saw less control from Madrid and as the game became increasingly open Barca began to threaten more and more. Messi put Barca ahead on the hour with a magnificent free kick that Casillas could do nothing about.
Ronaldo drew jeers from the crowd after he fell on his shoulder while attempting an overhead kick, but he had the last laugh after 65 minutes as he drew Madrid level. Adriano was slow to spring the offside trap and Ronaldo slotted home past Victor Valdes.
The striker did, however, look to be suffering with his shoulder, although he continued until the end.
The game was by now completely wide open and the closing minutes saw Barca go closer to winning as first Messi and Pedro messed up a chance on the break. Montoya was desperately unlucky to see his show hit the bar with two minutes left and deep into injury time Pedro's run ended with a shot that flashed past the Madrid post with Casillas struggling to make up space.
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