Real suffered defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League last-16 first leg at the Bernabeu to leave the club teetering on the cusp of a premature European exit.
But Zidane’s men bounced back in style at the same venue against their historic rivals, with Vinicius Jr and Mariano Diaz on target to send Real back to the top of the table.
Zinedine Zidane hailed his ‘great’ Real Madrid team after victory over Barcelona in El Clasico
But the Real boss also reflected on a ‘difficult week’ for the club despite now topping LaLiga
‘It’s been a difficult week,’ Zidane revealed. ‘We had a tough game against Manchester City and we played well for 80 minutes against them but lost the game.
‘I wouldn’t say the players were affected by the defeat but we did speak a lot about this game being an opportunity. I have a great team and this result gives us a boost.’
Zidane hailed the impact of his 19-year-old winger Vinicius.
‘Vinicius played well not just going forward but also defensively. He has the physical capacities,’ he said.
The player has been criticised this season for missing chances and failing to pick the best final ball.
Zidane hailed the impact of young winger Vinicius Jr, who opened the scoring at the Bernabeu
‘What gets said about him we cannot control but he has to live with the criticism,’ said the French coach.
Zidane looked relieved by the victory. ‘The first half was very even. Our high pressure was not perfect but in the second half we improved. They are a team that do not like to not have the ball,’ he said before repeating: ‘It’s been a difficult week.’
Barcelona coach Quique Setien was downbeat. He said: ‘It’s incomprehensible that the game changed so much in the second half. We started to lose control of the ball more. We were nervous and they grew because of that.
‘Madrid are winning the ball back in the other half better than they were. They pressed us well in the first half but we dealt with it and we had our chances. We did not take them. We had five or six chances and it is not normal that we miss them.’
Putting a brave face on losing his first Clasico, Setien added: ‘We said before the game that this result would not be conclusive. They were two points behind and now they are one in front. No team always wins. We have to just keep going forward.’
Barcelona boss Quique Setien put a brave face on the loss and played down its significance