To the naked eye, the former looks completely chaotic: nomad tribes were famous for their vicious and savage lifestyles, as different as night and day to the civilisation of cities and towns. The Persians had names for this: Touran, for the world of disorder; and Ouran, for the world of slippers, country clubs and a man was as good as his word. It gives us the name of one of today's popular countries by the way - Iran.
But as is usually the case with history, things are never quite what they seem.
I've been looking at the great tribal movements in the Middle Ages and particularly at the Mongols and the way they came to dominate cities, states and regions that had been greatly admired for their nice table manners, clever lawyers and poets with a neat turn of phrase (one of my bugbears, by the way, is just how bad a lot of surviving medieval poetry is - but that's another story).
The other night, though, the light-bulb came on when I watched Real Madrid and then Barcelona being dismantled by German teams on successive evenings. The excitement was partly about the football itself, but mainly at the way two powerhouses of European football were swept away with barely a whimper. The much-heralded and admired tiki-taki of Spanish football - admired across the world and assumed to be dominant - was swatted away like a fly.
But it was the triumph of another set of nomads from Central Asia that I've been tracking with even more interest: the Mamluks. These were men captured on the steppes and sold into slavery in Egypt, in due course overthrowing the leadership and taking control for themselves. At Ayn Jalut in 1260, the Mongols and the Mamluks met in battle with an enormous amount at stake. The former were fighting for world dominance; the latter were fighting for their lives. (As a neat side note, the implications for Christianity and Islam hung in the balance - there was everything to play for, as the Crusaders looking on realised only too well)
But like the battle between the Mongols and the Mamluks, the final is not so much a confrontation between two teams in an epic battle as the triumph of a system. Spain and the Spanish league teams might have dominated in the past; but history counts for nothing when it comes to the battlefield - or the football field.