Joachim Low's character arc, from World Cup winner to wanderer, is portrayed as a tragedy. There are even questions as to whether 2014 was a byproduct of a country-wide development program as widely venerated throughout the football world, or just a lucky Golden Age of players.
The constraints of the modern game make it almost impossible for midtable sides to build long-lasting dynasties. But Lille present a blueprint for what can happen when smart player recruitment and a manager ready to take the next step peak together for one season.
Tactically, this Champions League Final represents a reunion of a mid-2010s philosophy, which is even more poignant now considering how far we are from that style.
As ever, Real Madrid and Barcelona will decide which direction this whole enterprise goes. And Atleti will have their days, knowing that they don't run the show but do occasionally get to star in it.
All beginnings need to start somewhere. A new era of Barcelona was overdue whether it was structured by Laporta, forced by debt, and with or without Messi.