“We are all subject to destiny. But we must act as if we don’t, or we will die in despair.”

Philip Pullman

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What Gary Lineker said about the Germans no longer works. It’s time to update the famous phrase. Here it goes: “Football is a simple game: 22 men run after a ball for 90 minutes and, in the end, Real Madrid always wins.”

Or, if you prefer, “football is a simple game: 22 men run after a ball for 90 minutes and, in the end, Paris Saint-Germain always loses.”

In the Champions League, I say. The Spanish League is on the way to becoming as predictable as the French one. A Sunday walk respectively for Madrid and PSG. The Champions League is where both clubs focus 90 percent of their ambition and 90 percent of their desire. Only the Parisian club always stumbles, and the Madrid club always gallops.

Madrid and PSG are the ying and yang of football, heaven and hell. It is to test the most convinced atheist. Anyone could come to believe that God blesses Madrid and curses PSG. Player by player there has not been a big difference. Both have had top squads in the last decade, but Madrid has won the European Cup five times, with the sixth on the way, and PSG, zero.

Let’s see what just happened in the semifinals of the most important club competition in the world. PSG had to win at home against relatively humble Borussia Dortmund, fifth in the Bundesliga. The French shot 30 times on goal, four on target, and lost 1-0 and away. “Incredible!” exclaimed his coach, Luis Enrique.

But not as incredible as Madrid. Or, rather, no. Totally believable. We were in the 88th minute, Madrid were losing at home 0-1 against Bayern Munich and we already knew the result. Everything was sung. Everything was written. In other words, an unthinkable mistake by the Bayern goalkeeper, a tie for Madrid and, three minutes later, the winning goal. Bayern goal in the last breath of extra time? 2-2 and into extra time? No way! Canceled thanks to a referee error.

I always insist, to the point of boredom, on the centrality of the luck factor in football. But with Madrid an exception must be made. This is something else. We are talking about destiny, k ismet, cosmic, or divine inevitability. Or satanic. As my mother, a Real Madrid fan herself, always exclaimed, “this is not normal!” No, it’s paranormal.

That Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is a genius? Well, maybe. But remember this. In the quarterfinals of the 2017 Champions League, Real Madrid faced Bayern, for the umpteenth time. Madrid won thanks to two offside goals that the referee did not see. After the match the Bayern coach said: “We are not happy at all. In a quarterfinal match you need a better referee… History will say that Madrid eliminated Bayern, but the world saw what happened.”

Who was that Bayern coach? Carlo Ancelotti.

That phrase, “history will say that Madrid eliminated Bayern, but the world saw what happened” should be framed. Only leaving a void where it says “Bayern” to fill the space with the name of the current victim, such as that of Manchester City after the Champions League quarterfinal match last month. There were 33 shots on goal for City against eight for Madrid, 67 percent possession for City against 33 for Madrid…and who won? Madrid, of course, in the penalty shootout. The decisive goal was scored by a type of horse that plays defense. The two goals against Bayern last week were scored by Espanyol and Stoke City. For reasons that reason does not understand, the ball is going to go in, Madrid is going to win. It doesn’t matter if the scorer is called Rüdiger, Joselu, Cristiano Ronaldo or Mbappé.

After wasting time for I don’t know how many years at PSG, the Frenchman, surely the best striker in the world, will be at Madrid next season. There are people who doubt. Will Mbappé adapt? Will he be able to play with Vinícius? Please! The white t-shirt is a turbo, no matter who wears it. And as for next year’s League, or the Champions League final against Dortmund at the end of the month, does it make sense to play them? No. Madrid reduces football to a simple 22-man game in which everything is written.