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AT THE HALF: Barcelona down to 10 men, tied 1-1 with Real Madrid

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Sergi Roberto was the most involved player on the field during the first half of Sunday’s El Clasico clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.

[ MORE: Wenger speaks, bids farewell to Emirates after final home game ]

The 26-year-old whipped in a delightful cross for Luis Suarez to hammer home the game’s opening goal in the 10th minute, before seeing a straight red card for a slap to the face of Marcelo during first-half stoppage time.

[ MORE: Klopp admits Champions League run taking toll on Liverpool ]

In between Roberto’s assist and red card, only five minutes after the opening goal, Cristiano Ronaldo drew Madrid level with a tap-in to finish a beautiful crafted sequence inside Barca’s penalty area.

With 45 minutes left to play, Los Blancos represent the Blaugrana‘s final major hurdle of the season as the latter closes in on the first-ever unbeaten, 38-game La Liga season.

At first blush: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

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The bookmakers say it’s going to be close, but favor Real Madrid to come away with its third-straight UEFA Champions League Final when it meets Liverpool on May 26 in Kiev.

Us? We’re not so sure the two sides are even as far apart as Real’s meager 5:4 odds and Liverpool’s 2:1 underdog status.

[ MORE: Roma-Liverpool recap | Reds react ]

The biggest obstacle in choosing Liverpool to beat Real seems more to be aura than anything; Betting against Real in the Champions League has been a fool’s errand for some time.

Real is allowing better than a goal-per-game in league play this season, and has been a bit worse in Europe despite advancing to the final.

It’s also lost two matches in the UCL, one in the group stage against Spurs and the second leg against Juventus. Liverpool has only lost one match in European play, and has allowed goals at a similar rate to Real.

[ MORE: Roma rages at referee ]

Yeah, this one’s tough to call.

Goalkeeper: No, the keepers don’t play each other, but this is the one of three areas in which we’re looking to put the positions against each other. Loris Karius has been fine, but Keylor Navas gets a slight edge thanks to his wealth big game experience in both UCL Finals and with Costa Rica. Edge: Real Madrid.

Real forwards vs. Liverpool back line: There’s no use big-upping Virgil Van Dijk or defending Dejan Lovren here; This is Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Marco Asensio going up against a back line. Gareth Bale is on the bench (maybe). While Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are strong talents, this isn’t where Jurgen Klopp is hanging his hat. Edge: Real Madrid

Liverpool forwards vs. Real back line: Here’s where it’s a little tighter, but still easy to call. Sergio Ramos is a living legend, Marcelo is close to that status, and Dani Carvajal is pretty darn good. And of Real’s eight top-rated players in the UCL, five of them are defenders (the three mentioned above as well as Raphael Varane and Nacho). Still, the Mohamed SalahRoberto FirminoSadio Mane trident is the strongest in the world (at least until Messi and Suarez find their new running mate). Edge: Liverpool.

Midfield vs. Midfield: Here’s where the tie is going to be decided, barring gaffes at the back end. Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are fine, and James Milner is underrated, but the Reds injury troubles will cost them dearly here. Liverpool needs that trio to be at their top of the games, and hope that at least two of three of Casemiro, Modric, and Toni Kroos have off days. Even if Robertson and Alexander-Arnold flood the midfield, we wouldn’t bet on it. It gets a bit closer if Emre Can gets over his back trouble, but wouldn’t change our final judgment. Edge: Real Madrid.

Manager vs. Manager: It’s probably about time people stop looking past Zinedine Zidane as a manager. He’s not just a legendary player looming over the touch line. But even without Veljko Buvac helping out, Jurgen Klopp’s tactical acumen will serve Liverpool better over one match than Zidane’s does Real. Edge: Liverpool.

Real Madrid wins, nabs two away goals in Germany

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  • Real: Marcelo (44′), Asensio (57′)
  • Bayern: Kimmich (28′)
  • Bayern out shoots Real 17-7

Marcelo and Marco Asensio scored as Real Madrid erased an early deficit to top Bayern Munich 2-1 in at the Allianz Arena the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Joshua Kimmich scored for Bayern, who will need to score at least two goals Tuesday at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Arjen Robben made it just eight minutes before an injury ended his evening, bringing Thiago Alcantara into the fray.

Real Madrid created opportunities, but found Bayern’s defense a stiffer test than even Juve’s bunch. Jerome Boateng made a key block after Luka Modric sprang Ronaldo, and the Bavarians dealt well with the ensuing corner kicks.

A couple odd bounces allowed Dani Carvajal a rip on goal, but he was challenged and stuck the ball right at Sven Ulreich.

Kimmich struck out of nowhere with a bullet goal from the left of the Real defense, beating Keylor Navas for a 1-0 lead.

Franck Ribery should’ve had the score line 2-0 after a well-worked team play, but he bungled Thiago’s easy square pass right to Navas.

Mats Hummels just missed Bayern’s second, too, with an awkward reaction shot popping over the goal.

Marcelo made it level with Real’s first proper chance in some time, belting a shot across the goal and beyond Ulreich from outside the 18. Away goal, unlocked.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Navas was busy again moments later, corralling an in-tight Thomas Mueller header.

Asensio put Real ahead just past the glove of Ulreich after being slipped a bit wide with a incisive pass from Lucas Vasquez. It all started with a Rafinha slip-slash-gaffe.

Navas was at the ready for a huge 67th minute save on a sequence rife with penalty cries from Bayern.

Ronaldo defied the offside flag but not the ref’s whistle for an arm trap before his 71st minute finish.

Robert Lewandowski missed a gorgeous chance to level the score in the 88th minute, but instead reached four-straight UCL games without a goal.

Ronaldo brace leads Real comeback vs. PSG

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored in each half to lead Real Madrid to a 3-1 first leg win over visiting Paris Saint-Germain in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Marco Asensio had two assists in five minutes, on Ronaldo’s second and a Marcelo marker.

Adrien Rabiot scored for PSG to give Les Parisiens an early lead and an away goal, but Toni Kroos was dropped in the box to give Ronaldo his chance to level the score.

The second leg is March 6 at the Parc des Princes.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Zidane had Real Madrid pressing the ball from the opening kickoff, leading to a series of chances and high-volume challenges in the first five minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo whistled a shot wide of goal, Marquinhos made a timely intervention on Marcelo, and Toni Kroos had a penalty shout denied before PSG made its first attempt on goal through Yuri Berchiche.

Rabiot finished when fine work from Kylian Mbappe from the right bounded off a defender and into his path. His curled shot from 12 yards missed Nacho’s head and Keylor Navas’ left glove to make it 1-0.

Neymar then cued up Edinson Cavani in traffic, but his shot was deflected out for a corner.

Alphonse Areola made a tremendous save on Karim Benzema, but Kroos won a penalty in driving past Giovani Lo Celso. Ronaldo hammered his effort past Areola to make it 1-1 just before halftime.

Navas stopped Mbappe within minutes of the restart, with PSG aiming for a win with multiple away goals.

Both teams carried play at times in the second half, with goal mouth scrambles standing out in each box. Sergio Ramos made a pivotal block with his arm in the 74th minute. Could’ve been a penalty, not given.

Both Mbappe and Dani Alves couldn’t slide onto a Berchiche cross through the box in the 77th.

The breakthrough came courtesy of Marco Asensio’s cross, which was spilled by Areola onto the path of Ronaldo. The Portuguese megastar reacted to prod the ball in with his knee.

Navas stopped Mbappe to concede a corner in the 89th minute as PSG pushed for a second away goal, but it was Real who’d score again through a near identical Asensio cross from the left for Marcelo.

Real Madrid adds Marcelo to list of injured players

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid says defender Marcelo has joined its growing list of injured players after tearing a muscle in his left leg.

Marcelo injured his leg during the second half of Wednesday’s 1-0 home loss to Real Betis. The club did not specify how long he would be sidelined.

Madrid was already without Marcelo’s backup, Theo Hernandez, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. Striker Karim Benzema, midfielders Toni Kroos and Mateo Kovacic, and defender Jesus Vallejo are also out with injuries.

Madrid has gotten off to a slow start after two draws and a loss in three home matches. With only two wins from five matches, it is seven points behind leader Barcelona.

On Saturday, Madrid visits Alaves, which has lost all five of its matches this season.