This strangest of Champions League seasons finishes with the most traditionalist of winners, and a classic final storyline.
Old money beats new money thanks to an old boy, showing his former club why they were wrong. Kingsley Coman, who left Paris Saint-Germain after growing frustrated with the chances amid so much expenditure, wins the 65th Champions League final for Bayern Munich with a goal on the hour.
It offers one of the few elements in football that still feels priceless, certainly to a frustrated PSG. That’s that prestigious and grandiose trophy, that Bayern have now lifted six times. It puts them level again as the third most successful club in European history along with Liverpool, and after AC Milan and Real Madrid. They add a second treble to that, and Europe’s ninth treble in all, denying PSG the same feat in the process.
Bayern also become the first club to have ever managed a perfect Champions League season, winning every single game, although records like that don’t quite feel so remarkable given the nature of the season and the nature of modern football.
It was all about that trophy, that they looked on with such joy. There may not have been fans, but there was still what means most in football.
This is what still eludes PSG. Qatar’s state project remains unfulfilled, after what was a largely unfulfilling display. Early promise dissipated. They finished angsty and panicky, Bayern looking the better side.
Given the political nature of the PSG project, it would be easy to draw some kind of moral parable from this, and the right team winning.
Modern football is rather complicated in that regard, but the game itself still has some beautiful simplicities. And that’s where some moral tale may lie.
Bayern were rewarded for their bravery. They didn’t adapt for PSG. Fully confident in their attacking abilities, they persisted with that high line. It led to a lot of moments of high tension.
It isn’t just that the PSG attack are fast, after all. It’s that their attack suddenly exploding may currently be one of the most awesome sights in football. That’s what unlimited state wealth buys you: pace that seemingly pushes the limits of the game, especially through Mbappe.
He just takes off. That’s the only possible description of what happened on 22 minutes, in one of the most electrifying moments of the game. Mbappe released Neymar, Neymar scorched forward. Bayern were only just catching up when Angel Di Maria blazed over.
It was perhaps the only thing off in a high-quality game of football up to that point: the finishing. Mbappe was guilty himself minutes later, and Lewandowski might have done better with one chance that bounced onto the post, although the turn to find space was some vintage forward play.
The striker similarly did supremely with an improvised header shortly afterwards, but it brought a fine save from Keylor Navas. The goalkeeping up to that point had been as exquisite as some of the passing. Neuer had done brilliantly to keep PSG out twice, Ander Herrera just as well to put them through.
The level of execution was generally excellent. That was never more accurate than for the match-winner.
Coman became the story of the game, but the story of his goal was Joshua Kimmich’s divine cross. The technical ability of Bayern’s nominal full-back is just exquisite. Muller - of course - set him up with an instinctive touch when under pressure at pace.
That ball gave Kimmich a lot of time, but didn’t he use it. In a ball reminiscent of his divinely lofted title-winner against Borussia Dortmund in May, the right-back curved in an arching inviting ball that just begged to be finished.
Minutes later, as PSG and Mbappe finally stepped it up again, Kimmich offered a crucial intervention in what traditionalists would say is his main job. Mbappe had intently weaved his way into the box, getting through with sheer will as much as his sleek talent. Just as he was about to shoot, though, Kimmich stepped in and steered the ball away.
PSG appealed for a penalty, but it felt of a similar nature to the one Bayern wanted earlier. It might have warranted a second look, but was by no means a certainty.
Only the final whistle brought that. PSG sank to their knees in despair, Bayern in joy.
The familiar human qualities of sport persist even in the strangest of seasons, and end up providing the most familiar champions.