'Robbed': VAR drama overshadows 17-year El Clasico first

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.

Replays showed Rafael Varane had his shirt tugged in the goal box. Pic: AAP/BeIn Sports

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.

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.

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.

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.

With AAP