For the first time since 2002, an El Clasico match ended goalless, however, it was not without incident.
Real Madrid fans were particularly aggrieved, claiming their side was "robbed" of a famous three points at the Nou Camp after several controversy calls in their La Liga showdown.
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Twice Rafael Varane was at the centre of penalty shouts for Real Madrid and twice the French defender was denied.
The first incident saw the French defender tangle with Barcelona's Clement Lenglet, who appeared to catch his compatriot on the shin with a studs-up challenge.
The next instance saw the Frenchman's shirt tugged at by Ivan Rakitic in the box.
Replays clearly showed the Croatian grabbing hold of Varane's jersey as he tried to defend a Madrid set piece.
Real Madrid fans were seething that VAR failed to intervene on both occasions.
Viewer fury was compounded when VAR did step in to rule out a Gareth Bale goal due to a marginal, albeit correct, offside call.
Gareth Bale vs. Barcelona— SM (@SMFutball) December 18, 2019
Pass Success: 85%
Key Passes: 02 (Only Kroos w/3)
Aerials Won: 03 (Most)
Total Shots: 02
⚽️ A Disallowed Goal, due to Mendy being Offside.
👍 A Solid Performance from Gareth Bale. pic.twitter.com/M4lJhkzsIr
FT: Barca 0-0 Real Madrid— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) December 18, 2019
We didn't deserve to draw or lose this. 2 penalties robbed. And a clear cut chances wasted.
Zidane is undefeated at the Camp Nou in his managerial career. #ElClasico pic.twitter.com/yx1QHsOgtV
Real Madrid director Butragueño: "It is very disconcerting that VAR did not even intervene. There were two 'very clear' penalties. VAR has to intervene. When you see the images it's striking that the technology wasn't even used." #ElClasico pic.twitter.com/wO0vFo62mH— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) December 18, 2019
100% Penalty. Referee didn't see it, also didn't care to use VAR.— SM (@SMFutball) December 18, 2019
They only use VAR against Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/93dfVzvxPZ
Varane got stepped over and shirt pulled inside the penalty box in two separate occasions and no call 🤷🏻♀️— Real Madrid Info (@RMadridInfo) December 18, 2019
Barca: *commits 2 penalty fouls*— ¹³Z.I.³³ (@ZinedinIsco) December 18, 2019
Real Madrid: *score 0-1*
VAR: “I could swear mendy’s leg hair was offside” *disallow goal* pic.twitter.com/LE3mIwISRx
🎙Ramos: "It looks pretty clear that they are two clear penalties. Maybe when it’s our turn and we cause a penalty it won’t be checked either...”— Real Madrid Info (@RMadridInfo) December 18, 2019
Madrid were robbed— SANTA AROMA (@Osafoobed1) December 18, 2019
Madrid got robbed. Outplayed them. Great game by Ter stegen, as always the savior.— Tuff G⚽ng Rodriguez (@soccerswag7) December 18, 2019
Bale had a second-half effort ruled out for offside by VAR, while Barcelona's best chance fell to Jordi Alba in the first period but he fired wide.
The result means Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane extends his impressive unbeaten coaching record at the Nou Camp to five games.
Barca remain top on goal difference from Real, who dominated a game that had been postponed in October due to safety fears surrounding the violent protests in Catalonia.
Match goes ahead after protest concerns
Concerns the game would be disrupted failed to materialise, save for yellow balls hurled on to the pitch by Catalan independence supporters in the second half.
With more protests planned by Catalan campaigners there was increased security all around the stadium and helicopters buzzed overhead before kick-off.
Such were the security concerns, both teams had shared the same hotel before the match.
OFF THE LINE!!! @3gerardpique to the rescue for @FCBarcelona 😱 | 0-0 | Watch LIVE on beIN SPORTS CONNECT ▶️ https://t.co/9kfBWQ92lH | #ElClasico | #BarcelonaRealMadrid | #LaLiga pic.twitter.com/FfI08kjfVM— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_AUS) December 18, 2019
Thousands of peaceful campaigners protested nearby earlier in the afternoon and throughout the build-up to the game, while a display of Catalonia's red and yellow colours filled one side of the stadium at kick-off.
A cagey opening in a volatile atmosphere ensued. Bale was back in Real's starting line-up, while Rakitic replaced Sergio Busquets in Barcelona's midfield.
Zidane would have been the happier manager at half-time after his side dominated the opening 45 minutes.
But Alba volleyed the best chance of the first half wide for Barca four minutes before the break following Lionel Messi's brilliant chipped pass.
Real skipper Sergio Ramos cleared off the goal-line as Casemiro attempted to thwart Messi in the box, while Barca defender Gerard Pique had earlier done likewise from Karim Benzema's header.
WHOA!! 😱 Now it's @realmadrid's turn to clear one off the line!! | 0-0 | Watch LIVE on beIN SPORTS CONNECT ▶️ https://t.co/9kfBWQ92lH | #ElClasico | #BarcelonaRealMadrid | #LaLiga pic.twitter.com/fySG7GYqcP— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_AUS) December 18, 2019
Real maintained their high energy levels at the start of the second period as they continued to hog possession and quickly won the ball back when they lost it.
Despite all Real's possession, Messi threatened but failed to control Antoine Griezmann's ball inside the area and then Bale flashed a rising shot just off target at the other end.
Bale thought he had broken the deadlock in the 72nd minute, but VAR ruled Ferland Mendy was fractionally offside before delivering his pin-point low cross.
Frenkie De Jong's long-range effort failed to trouble Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Luis Suarez blazed high and wide from inside the area.
The game entered the final 10 minutes on a knife-edge, but chances were still hard to come by in both areas and as the clock ticked down neither side was prepared to risk charging forward.