No goals, no VAR and few shots on target in the first goalless Clasico in 17 years
Barcelona and Real Madrid were unable to break the deadlock in a draw that epitomises their respective starts to the season, and seems to indicate this match is not what it used to be. Only goal difference separated them at the top of LaLiga before kick-off and it's the same outcome at the final whistle.
LaLiga's top two went into the contest level on points this season and with 72 wins each from previous league meetings, and there was nothing to separate them in a tense clash in Catalonia, marked with political unrest on the streets but no major issues during the game.
The match was rearranged from October after the initial date became a security risk due to the prospect of Catalan independence protests, and there were fans inside and outside the stadium making their voices heard over one of Spain's most divisive issues.
The action on the pitch was a little less fraught, Bale's second-half strike - ruled out for offside - representing the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in a clash which saw very few shots on target for both teams.
Despite a strong start from the hosts, Madrid controlled the early exchanges and only Gerard Pique's timely intervention on the line denied Casemiro an opening goal with a header.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen beat away another Casemiro effort after Madrid had penalty shouts waved away following a shirt pull on Raphael Varane, who had earlier squared up to Jordi Alba, with some questioning the referee's lack of VAR use in these actions.
Thibaut Courtois went untested until the half-hour mark, when he palmed away a teasing Alba cross and the covering Sergio Ramos cleared Lionel Messi's rebound from in front of goal, which proved to be one Barcelona's best chances in the 90 minutes, a surprising.
Alba had a golden chance to snatch the lead before half-time but could only side-foot wide of the right-hand post following a sublime lofted pass from Messi.
The second half proved more of an end-to-end affair, Bale rippling the side-netting and then seeing celebrations cut short when his tap-in was disallowed after a VAR review for offside against Ferland Mendy.
A frustrated Messi wasted Barcelona's golden chance just inside the box, failing to connect cleanly with Griezmann's ball to sum up a clash surprisingly short on attacking quality despite the big names on the scoresheet.
Real Madrid were undoubtedly the better team at times, and a draw suits both teams at the moment, but questions will be asked as to whether one of the most-watched football games in the world still deserves that title despite the record breaking clash for Sergio Ramos and Ansu Fati, who became the player with the most Clasicos ever and the youngest player to take part in one respectively.