Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich. Only three teams have won the European Cup or Champions League three times in a row. Only one of them has done it twice.
Bob Paisley's Liverpool, Helenio Herrera's Inter, Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan – great teams have tried and failed to win more than two on the bounce. Bayern were the last to do it, 42 years ago. Zinedine Zidane managed it in 28 months.
Whatever their limitations, however poor their domestic campaign has been, there can no longer be any doubt: Zidane's team will go down in history as Champions League legends. They are, as Sergio Ramos said even before kick-off, "vintage". Fortune favours the great.
There was so much doubt about their credentials this time, so much belief in Jurgen Klopp's undaunted, free-flowing Liverpool, one of the only other clubs to come close to Madrid's European record. It seemed that way from kick-off in Kiev, too: the Reds were brilliantly organised, pressing astutely, throwing Madrid off their swagger.
After those scares against Juventus and Bayern Munich, Zidane's side looked like they would at last be exposed. We should all know better.
Misfortune struck Liverpool 30 minutes in. Mohamed Salah, heir apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo and his Ballon d'Or, was forced off in tears with a shoulder injury, having tumbled to ground with Sergio Ramos, the man made for lifting trophies in this white shirt.
It left Liverpool looking uncertain, wary, and Madrid sensed it. The passing became crisper, the chances appeared, Karim Benzema denied a goal by the offside flag. Even the loss of Dani Carvajal ironically gave them a boost, with the full-back having looked every bit a player to have missed five of the last six games before he limped his disconsolate way down the tunnel.
Then Lady Luck returned. Loris Karius, whose improved form in 2018 has been a great success story of Liverpool's season, collected a simple loose ball and threw it straight against Benzema's foot. It was an error that seemed to perplex even the Madrid players, who were slow to catch up to celebrate with their team-mate, the much-maligned forward who produced arguably his best performance of 2017-18.
There was still room for another defensive lapse, a failure to clear a set-piece that gifted Sadio Mane an equaliser, a reminder of that fragility that almost let Juventus back into the quarter-final. Madrid survived that tie thanks largely to the genius of Cristiano Ronaldo; this time, it was Gareth Bale.
Just 122 seconds after coming off the bench, he scored the best goal this showpiece has ever seen. It was jaw-dropping, exquisite brilliance. That's the other side of this era-defining team: they make their own luck, too. When Karius flapped in another Bale effort to put the trophy out of Liverpool's reach, it felt like destiny was rewarding the Wales star for even attempting such a bicycle kick.
Zidane has now won nine trophies since taking over in January 2016. He has his shortcomings, as he admitted this week – "I'm not the best coach, and I will always say that. I am not the best coach tactically" – but, when the success looks like this, tactics be damned.
They survived throwing away a 3-0 lead against Juve, being dominated by Bayern, being unsettled by Liverpool. Special goals and slices of luck carried them all the way to glory again. The undisputed kings of Europe, it seems, have a divine right to rule.
20 de agosto 2018
|Ailing Bairstow keen to aid England´s unlikely victory bid at Trent Bridge|
|Redskins secure Peterson signing|
|Manchester City goalkeeper Bravo suffers ruptured Achilles|
|Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 2: Milner and Mane secure victory at Selhurst Park|
|Whyte takes aim at ´coward´ Fury ahead of Wilder showdown|
|Jets delighted with Darnold, open to trading Bridgewater|
|Gasly to replace Ricciardo at Red Bull|
|Valencia 1 Atletico Madrid 1: Rodrigo strikes to deny Simeone´s side|
|Injured Halep withdraws from Connecticut Open|
|Cipriani fined £2,000 by Gloucester|
|Mourinho will be sacked before Christmas, says Sharpe|
|England face record chase after Kohli smashes India to huge lead|
|Ozil captaining Arsenal a miracle - Hoeness|
|Japan players apologise for ´thoughtless, careless´ actions at Asian Games|
|Henry wants Bordeaux job, Wenger confirms|
|Pogba too inconsistent and not a leader, claims Scholes|
|PCB chairman Sethi resigns in letter to Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan|
|US Open comes too soon for Tsonga|
|Unpredictable results making 2018 F1 season a classic - Wolff|
|Mendy restricts phone use on Guardiola advice|
|Modric brands Inter approach claim ´the greatest nonsense in history´|
|Runners and Ryders: Olesen leapfrogs Poulter into last Team Europe berth|
|Kenedy escapes further action over Camarasa kick|
|England´s Bairstow suffers ´small fracture´ to finger|
|Gonalons joins Sevilla on loan from Roma|
|Modric, Ronaldo and Salah final UEFA Player of the Year nominees|
|Tottenham to play opening Champions League home match at Wembley|
|Karius´ Champions League blunders did not lead to Alisson signing - Klopp|
|Leeds considered €20m Conte offer before turning to Bielsa|
|Modric, Rakitic lead new era for World Cup finalists Croatia|
|Storm´s Chambers banned for three weeks, Smith injury not serious|
|Porte to race Vuelta after recovering from Tour crash|
|The Career Golden Masters: A run-down of Djokovic´s magnificent record|
|Japan send home four basketball players from Asian Games amid prostitution scandal|
|Rugby tackle bags helping Liverpool´s Alisson with Premier League life|
|Federer raring to go at US Open after Djokovic defeat|
|Chelsea boss Sarri plans to give up smoking|
|Alonso´s Toyota team stripped of Silverstone victory|
|Ceballos: No issue with former Real Madrid boss Zidane|
|MLS Review: Martinez equals single-season goalscoring record|
|Astros avoid sweep with win over Athletics|
|Seppi advances, Paire exits Winston-Salem|
|Bale feeling good as Madrid eye sweep of trophies|
|You can´t leave a house three-quarters built – Neville urges United to back Mourinho|
|Dodgers slugger Machado leaves game after being struck by pitch|
|Harden says Carmelo will ´be a good fit´ for Rockets|
|Morata: I never considered Chelsea exit|
|Gavrilova kicks off title defence in New Haven|
|Lopetegui pleased with Bale and Real Madrid after LaLiga opener|
|It´s a very special moment – Djokovic revels in Golden Masters achievement|
|Sorrentino thanks Ronaldo for support after injury|
|Twins place Santana on DL with finger injury|
|Yankees´ Gregorius suffers ´pretty significant´ heel bruise|
|Snedeker ends PGA Tour drought with Wyndham Championship win|
|Spalletti unconcerned despite Inter´s underwhelming start|
|Djokovic makes history with Masters clean sweep in Cincinnati|
|Real Madrid 2 Getafe 0: Bale gives Lopetegui first LaLiga win|
19 de agosto 2018
|IndyCar driver Wickens taken to hospital after crash|
|Sherman calls for NFL to scrap ´idiotic´ helmet rule|
|Sassuolo 1 Inter 0: New-look Nerazzurri given early reality check|
|Hughton: Shock United win does not alter scale of Brighton´s task|
|Navas keeps place as Courtois waits on Madrid debut|
|Ndidi signs long-term Leicester City contract|
|Pandya tears through feeble England to put India in command|
|Alonso creates motorsport history with victory at Silverstone|
|Kovacic: Chelsea and Sarri believe in me|
|Brighton loss a big lesson for United – Pogba|
|Mistakes hit United´s confidence - Mourinho|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 3 Manchester United 2: Murray lifts Seagulls to another win over Mourinho|
|Quickfire Moon treble sets up Rhinos win|