Those wise old scribes who were writing Real Madrid off earlier in the season have probably tossed their pencils into the bin; the European champions are alive and kicking and in no mood to relinquish their crown.
Real got off to a slow start in La Liga, with star names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale struggling for fitness and form.
Their apparent woes were only magnified in relation to Barcelona’s rampaging start to the domestic campaign, but the scribes went into overdrive when Real were pipped to top spot in their Champions League group by Tottenham Hotspur.
With Ronaldo the wrong side of 30, Bale and Benzema struggling and a questionable summer in the transfer window it all piled pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane – and pulling out Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League had alarm bells ringing all around the Spanish capital.
But it seems the alarm bells were ringing everywhere apart from in Zidane’s office and the club’s training ground. Real went out in the first leg of their meeting with PSG and after falling behind to an Adrien Rabiot goal and seeing the French side play some brilliant football, they hit back with three unanswered goals to take a lead to Paris.
The way PSG played at times in the first leg there was always a possibility of the Parisians turning things around at the Parc Des Princes.
Real had other ideas, as Casemiro produced the sort of defensive-midfield performance that earned him such high praise last season. The Brazilian was everywhere mopping up loose balls, harrying PSG into mistakes, providing cover to his defenders – and scoring the killer second goal to add some icing to the cake.
Sergio Ramos has gone through his career having to battle rushes of blood – think the Hulk only with a really good beard and slick hair – but he was at his sublime best on Tuesday as he nullified the threat of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe with a rugged, no-nonsense display.
And when Real needed a goal, up popped the main man Ronaldo – his 12th of the European campaign so far. He may be 33, but there are few fitter 33-year-olds in the world and once again he is proving everything is about timing. Awards and trophies are not won in the first half of the season, and Ronaldo looks like a man serenely moving through the gears ready to hit top speed as the home straight looms into view.
The Liga title has gone, that’s now Barcelona’s to lose, meaning Real can focus all their attentions on the defence of their Champions League crown.
Dispatching PSG 5-2 on aggregate ensured old money got the better of new money. There may be another similar battle if Manchester City continue their march, but it would be unwise to write Real Madrid off any time soon.