There was nothing. There was no noise. The Santiago Bernabéu stood silent, subdued, waiting for the bell to toll. There was no spark.  

Real Madrid had long since run out of ideas, and they were running low on hope, too. Most pressingly, there was no time. 

The comeback against the glittering array of Instagram influencers arranged in the vague shape of a team by Paris St.-Germain.  

But there comes a point when reality has to intrude, when the chaos has to give way to order. There are certain inevitabilities that even Real Madrid 

Soccer’s great self-actualizers, a team that runs exclusively on the power of its own imagination, have to acknowledge. This was one of them. This was the point where all of it came to an end. 

And then, in a single, blinding flash, it happened. There were no warning signs, no rumbles of thunder, no auguries, no harbingers.  

One minute Manchester City was in complete control of its semifinal, leading by a single goal on the night and by two, a yawning chasm, on aggregate.  

Jack Grealish had missed a couple of chances to add a little gloss to the score line, but nobody seemed overly concerned.