Zidane masterminds Barca's first loss in 40 matches
Deft Casemiro move by Zidane and fatigue of home side's attackers silence Nou Camp
(Gerard Pique 56)
REAL MADRID 2
(Karim Benzema 62, Cristiano Ronaldo 85)
After masterminding a thrilling 2-1 win over Barcelona (yesterday morning, Singapore time), Zinedine Zidane dismissed the notion that he was only a famous football name in charge of a fancy club.
The Real Madrid coach, once the best footballer in the world, proved his tactical astuteness by fielding Brazilian Casemiro as a defensive shield, and the previously unheard-of 24-year-old repaid the faith with a superb shift in the engine room to stifle the hosts in attack.
Which so many know takes some doing.
Remarkably, Zidane managed to persuade his attackers to perform their defensive duties, with the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo working hard to track back to snuff out danger in an entertaining La Liga encounter.
Then there was their strength in adversity, which saw them score the winning goal late at the Nou Camp through Ronaldo, despite being down to 10 men.
In attack, Bale's excellent combination with Ronaldo and Karim Benzema was a welcome sight for Real and proved a handful for the home outfit.
Ronaldo's cleverly taken winner proved his worth still, a perfect riposte to those who have criticised his play this season.
For Barcelona, though, the defeat may cost them more than they think.
With a six-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid and seven games left to play, the Catalan side have probably already built up a sufficient cushion to remain on track to retain their title.
However, their bid to become the first team to retain the Champions League crown is now not looking quite as straightforward as before.
Perhaps fired up by the pre-match tribute to the late Johan Cruyff, Barca started brightly against Real, But, somewhere around the hour mark, soon after Gerard Pique had given them the lead, the urgency and cohesion started to wane drastically.
Crucially, their much-vaunted trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all lacking their usual sharpness.
Benzema's swift equaliser for Real played a part in destabilising Luis Enrique's men, especially after their exertions over the last week or so.
That Ronaldo scored the winning goal moments after teammate Sergio Ramos was sent off rubbed salt on the wound.
Barcelona coach Enrique refused to use fatigue - Messi, Suarez and Neymar all made the exhausting trip back from South America where they starred for their respective countries' in World Cup qualifiers - as an excuse.
But Suarez, in particular, was guilty of missing his side's best chance in the 10th minute, when he somehow fluffed his shot after Neymar set him up for a simple finish.
Tellingly, Barcelona have played 13 games more than Real this season.
Whatever the problem, Enrique needs to address the issue quickly.
Barcelona host Atletico Madrid (Wednesday morning, Singapore time) in the first leg quarter-final Champions League clash.
Led by coach Diego Simeone, Atletico have forged a reputation of fielding uncompromising sides that guarantee a physical battle in every game.
That's three days for Enrique to kick the lethargy out of his squad's system.
He also has the task of trying to lift his players after a morale-sapping loss to their fiercest rivals.
Barcelona's first loss in 40 matches couldn't have come at a worse time.
And the fallout could be even worse.