In 1992-93 French Ligue 1 side Marseille became the first side to win the re-branded UEFA Champions League, formerly known as the European Cup.
The new format saw two groups of four teams playing each other twice with the group winners going on to face each other in the final. AC Milan headed into the final as the favourites having won all 10 of their games in the competition to that point, but surprisingly went down 1-0 to Basile Boli’s goal just before half-time.
This is the only occasion where a French side has lifted Europe’s elite club cup competition. Other teams have come close though. Stade Reims have reached the final twice; the first-ever European Cup in 1956, and three years later – losing to Real Madrid on both occasions.
Saint-Etienne were beaten by Bayern Munich in 1976 whilst Marseille lost on penalties to Red Star Belgrade in 1991; two years before they lifted the trophy.
In 2004, Didier Deschamps’ AS Monaco went down to Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto.
France head into the 2017-18 season with hope that another one of their teams can win the Champions League. That is Paris Saint-Germain.
Despite Unai Emery’s side finishing as runners-up in the league to Monaco last season, their investments over the summer suggest that they should not only win Ligue 1 comfortably, but have the potential to compete in the Champions League too.
PSG broke the world record transfer fee earlier this summer with the acquisition of Neymar from Barcelona – a huge statement. Not only did they sign the Brazilian star but also teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe. The young striker had a breakthrough campaign with Monaco last season before joining on loan with an agreement for a permanent deal at the Parc des Princes next summer.
This means Emery now has a front three consisting of Neymar, Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. He also has players like Angel Di Maria, Lucas Moura, Julian Draxler and Javier Pastore to support them. That’s an attack capable of scoring against any defence in the Champions League, and with the comfort of being able to rotate players.
The other big signing for the French capital side was the arrival of Dani Alves from Juventus on a free transfer. The Brazilian right-back has a wealth of experience and didn’t appear to lose a step last season. He’ll offer great support going forward down the right.
Paris Saint-Germain’s squad now has ridiculous strength in depth. The manager has Alphonse Areola and Kevin Trapp to choose from in goal alone. On top of that, attacking full-back Thomas Meunier is an exciting player, whilst Thiago Silva and Marquinhos are highly-rated in the centre of defence.
Whether their central midfield trio would get the better of the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea this season remains to be seen. Thiago Motta is a solid midfielder whilst Marco Verratti has even been linked with a move to Camp Nou. However, they could regret letting Blaise Matuidi join Juventus.
How far can Paris Saint-Germain go in this season’s Champions League? A nice draw and staying healthy would be helpful, but they can certainly be expected to go a long way, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they got their hands on the trophy in May.