In Bayern Munich’s victory, it is possible to draw the conclusion that there is, for now, at least, some sort of winner. Paris St.-Germain has obsessed over the Champions League for a decade. It has spent billions in pursuit of it. It has inveigled its way into the corridors of power and it has broken the rules, both in letter and in spirit, and it has done its best to shift the landscape to its own ends. It wants nothing more than that one trophy, that ultimate vindication of its plan.
And though it came closer than it ever had before this summer, it has failed again. Chalk up a victory not necessarily for the good guys — Bayern Munich, for all its folksy customs, is not what any outsider would call lovable — but for the way things have always been. The old certainties hold. The new order has not been established, and Neymar is sitting on the bench in tears.
But a single picture does not tell a whole story. P.S.G. has not failed, not really, not in the long term. Its presence here was success. A decade since its Gulf money arrived, it can breathe the same rarefied air as the old elite. That, in the context of what Qatar wants from its investment, is almost the same as the Champions League trophy. Almost.
So, too, all of the associations that come with it. To have Neymar — the most expensive player on the planet, an icon, a social media phenomenon — as the avatar of this P.S.G. team is to demonstrate all of the things that are valuable to the club’s backers about this project. It speaks of power and wealth and glamour and relevance and affection, in some quarters, if not universally.
Neymar’s despair might have been the final image of the night, but that is the closing of a chapter, not the culmination of the book. Just as the European soccer season lasts nine months and, at the end of it, Coman gets a medal or three, the same is true of P.S.G. There will be another chance, and another chance after that, and on and on into the future.
Young money soon morphs into old power, and the insurgents become the ruling class. Neymar will be back here again; P.S.G. will be back here again. That is the way the game is built. That is the way the game works. At a certain height, the tears never last for long.