Gareth Bale, Real Madrid's odd star out, had been stung to start the Champions League final against Liverpool on the bench. Often injured, he was destined, it could seem, to miss out on the biggest games. The Welsh international missed the last of his country's World Cup qualifiers because of a strained calf; now he was fit but told by his club that, yet again, he would be forced to watch.
"Very disappointed not to start the game," Bale would say later.
KIEV, Ukraine -- Whether or not Real Madrid are the greatest club side of all time, following their 3-1 Champions League final win vs. Liverpool, might be debatable. Less debatable are two things. One is that this is a European dynasty; three straight Champions Leagues and four in five years are pretty much the definition of it.
The other is that, in an age of systems, formations and tactical gurus, few teams manage to synthesize the sense of collectivity and the individual as much as this one....
KIEV, Ukraine -- Perhaps it is the nature of Real Madrid that, even in triumph, it is easier to look for flaws and shortcomings than to simply give credit where it is due.
Zinedine Zidane and his players created history by defeating Liverpool in the Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine; Zidane by joining Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti in the club of three-time-winning managers; and his players by not only delivering a third successive European Cup, but also extending Real's record haul to...
KIEV, Ukraine -- Three quick thoughts on Real Madrid's 3-1 victory over Liverpool to win their third straight Champions League and fourth in five years.
1. Super-sub Bale makes it three in a row for Real
Liverpool fans have a banner that reads, "Form is temporary, class is permanent," but that could apply to Gareth Bale in Kiev after the Real Madrid forward climbed off the substitutes' bench to score twice to secure his club's third successive Champions League title.
LONDON -- Three quick thoughts from Fulham's 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship playoff final at Wembley, which sees the Cottagers return to the Premier League after four seasons in England's second division.
1. Cairney sends Fulham back to the big time
Fulham are back in the Premier League after four years away, Tom Cairney's 23rd-minute winner edging them past Aston Villa in a tense and increasingly chaotic Championship playoff final. They won despite playing the last quarter...
LONDON -- So now, Antonio Conte awaits his fate. The Chelsea manager has placed the FA Cup in the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet, but don't expect it to be enough to keep him in a job.
Meanwhile Jose Mourinho will get another bite of the cherry at Manchester United despite the joyless atmosphere with which he's beginning to infect Old Trafford, but Conte's time is up in that classic way that it always is with a Chelsea manager under Roman Abramovich. At least the Italian was spared the fate of...