Five areas where Real Madrid came undone and were beaten by Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday afternoon in the first Clásico of the season.
1. A FAILED CHANGE OF IDENTITY FOR ZIDANE
The Real Madrid manager gave more importance to creating a system to stop Messi than keeping his own side's identity. The lack of minutes for Isco Alarcón and Mateo Kovacic's name being amongst the starters was a failed experiment. Real Madrid had more possession in the first half, with more presence in important areas of the field, but lost when it came to players arriving in the penalty area when winning was necessary to remain in the fight for LaLiga. The obsession to stop Messi meant Kovacic was thrown in and it forced the Croatian into an unavoidable error for the first goal when he was unsure what to do with Rakitic bearing down on him and with Messi peeling away. That was the goal that broke the tie open and eventually sunk Real Madrid.
2. THE COLLAPSE IN THE SECOND HALF
From the pressure in the first half that put Sergio Busquets on the backfoot and forced him into uncharacteristic turnovers, Real Madrd reverted to a counter-attacking style in the second half that seemed unnecessary given how much control they had on the game in the first 45. With the ball, Barcelona grew as Real Madrid shrunk. Nobody from Madrid could find their feet on the field and they all ran after the ball opposed to with it.
3. LACK OF PUNCH AND BENZEMA
Real Madrid under Zidane have gone from scoring in every game and competition, creating a new scoring record in consecutive games to to their fourth league game in which they were unable to score a single goal. Cristiano Ronaldo tried everything possible to score but when he did manage to shoot on target, it was saved by Ter Stegen. Benzema's influence was inconsequential and aside from hitting the post, he wore out the patience of Real Madrid and was taken off with his side desperate for a goal. With two goals in the league so far, the manager is left with no defense of his starting striker.
4. KEYLOR THE SAVIOUR BUT WITH DEFENSIVE INSTABILITY
A few days before Kepa is reportedly set to join Real Madrid from Athletic Bilbao to increase competition, Keylor Navas staked a claim as the best the club have between the sticks. He let three of the 11 shots he faced in but made an excellent save from Paulinho in the first half and from Messi in the second. He ended up being the victim of defensive misalignments for a team who have conceded 14 goals in 17 games this season. That is a far cry from Barcelona's seven conceded, and Atlético's eight and is not title-contending defensive form.
5. MESSI IMPOSES HIMSELF ON THE DUEL FOR FOOTBALL'S CROWN
In the latest chapter of the battle for football's crown between two of the best players the world has ever seen, Leo Messi landed another blow at the Bernabéu on Saturday afternoon. The most decisive player in that duel was not overly busy in the first half save for a lovely pass to Paulinho and in creating a few dangerous attacks. He was released in the second half and pushed himself ahead of Ronaldo on the goalscoring charts in 2017. His 54 goals in 64 games with Barcelona and Argentine surpasses Ronaldo's 53 in the final game of the year.