Paris Saint-Germain F.C. in international football

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PSG in international football
Club Paris Saint-Germain F.C.
First entry 1982–83 European Cup Winners' Cup
Last entry 2012–13 UEFA Champions League
Titles
Champions League 0
Europa League 0
Cup Winners' Cup
Intertoto Cup
Super Cup 0
Club World Cup 0

Paris Saint-Germain F.C. is a professional football club based in Paris, France. It was founded on 12 August 1970, thanks to the merger of Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain. PSG was one of the founding members of the Ligue 1 in 2002, and has been playing in the top-flight since 1974, the current championship record. The 1982–83 season became PSG's first participation in a European competition as they reached the Cup Winners' Cup quarterfinals before being eliminated by Belgian outfit Waterschei. Since then, the capital club has competed in every UEFA-organised competition. Paris Saint-Germain is, along with Olympique de Marseille, one of only two French clubs to have won a European competition, claiming the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1996 and the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2001.[1] In 1994, PSG was ranked 1st in the Club World Ranking made by the IFFHS, and in 1998, "Les Parisiens" were also ranked 1st in the UEFA Team Ranking.[2][3] PSG is the only French club to ever achieve these honours.

Early years[edit]

During the 1981–82 season, Paris Saint-Germain tasted their first honour against Michel Platini's Saint-Étienne in their predilect competition, the French Cup. A year later, "Les Parisiens" confronted Nantes in a second consecutive final, with the result being just as good for the capital. These breakthroughs opened the doors to Europe and PSG's first couple of seasons were a complete success thanks to memorable encounters, particularly with Waterschei in 1983 and with Juventus in 1984.[4] Paris' first match in European competition was a Cup Winners' Cup first round tie against Lokomotiv Sofia. Paris Saint-Germain narrowly lost the match at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Sofia. The return leg was played at the Parc des Princes, where PSG condemned their visitors to a crushing 5–1 defeat in front of 32,000 spectators thanks in part to Nabatingue Toko's brace, who also netted the club's first European goal.[5] After an easy tie against Swansea City, Paris reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Waterschei. At first it seemed to be the perfect draw as PSG avoided big clubs such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid. In front of 49,575 spectators, PSG's attendance record, Safet Sušić opened the score at the Parc des Princes before Bulgarian referee Bogdan Dotchev disallowed it. Paris' dominance was recompensated just before the break when "Man of the Match" Luis Fernández scored after being played in by Mustapha Dahleb's back-heel. Jean-Marc Pilorget doubled the lead as the final whistle would make "Les Parisiens" rue all the missed opportunities. Overconfidence cost them the semi-finals as the Belgians achieved a 3–0 victory after extra-time in a highly controversial fixture where PSG finished the match with nine men after polemic send-offs from Jean-Claude Lemoult and Saar Boubacar.[6] After an exceptional year, PSG was named "Club of the Year" in 1982 by French magazine France-Football.[7]

Again in the Cup Winners' Cup, Paris Saint-Germain even produced one of the most famous nights in their history, cruelly going out on away goals in the second round to eventual champions Juventus, a squad including no other than Michel Platini and the majority of the 1982 FIFA World Cup winners.[8] After another spectacular year, the capital club was named "Club of the Year" in 1983 by France-Football for a second successive time. A third consecutive participation in Europe, this time in the UEFA Cup, was achieved by the club thanks to Safet Sušić's goal against Toulouse in the final matchday of the 1983–84 season.[9] However, their first UEFA Cup campaign was short-lived as after crushing Heart of Midlothian in the first round, not even a Dominique Rocheteau brace could spare PSG from a disappointing 4–2 defeat against eventual runners-up Videoton at the Parc des Princes. A comeback from Paris in the second leg was hampered by Alain Couriol's severe knee damage. A parcial 2–0 defeat before the match was postponed due to the thick fog was a heads-up of their eventual 1–0 loss during the replay.[10] In 1985, PSG even looked for a third French cup in four years, but lost out to Monaco. Two years later, PSG clinched their maiden French title, going an amazing 26 matches without defeat. It was this domestic success that opened the door for Paris to the European Cup. But where ecstasy lies, there is always painful disturbance. After a season of absence, "Les Parisiens" return to Europe couldn't be worst and their first participation in the European Cup finished at the first hurdle against Czechoslovak champions Vítkovice.[8]

Following that disappointment, PSG failed to qualify for any European competitions during 4 seasons out of 5 between 1987 and 1992. Their only continental participation of that period, in the 1989–90 UEFA Cup, ended with a second round elimination.

1990s: Heyday and fall from grace[edit]

In the first 22 years of Paris Saint-Germain's young history, the club's best achievement had been a quarter-final appearance in the 1982–83 European Cup Winners' Cup. 1992–93 would turn out to be the season during which the club embarked on an era of memorable European runs, unmatched by any other French club with the exception of fierce rivals Marseille between 1989 and 1993.

In the early 1990s, with the financial backing of new owners Canal+, the Parisian club had made keynote signings such as George Weah, David Ginola, Valdo, Antoine Kombouaré, Paul Le Guen, Bernard Lama and Vincent Guérin. Those players first made their mark in Europe in the 1992–93 UEFA Cup. In the second round, PSG defeated Napoli, who had been crowned Italian champions in 1987 and 1990. In the round of sixteen, a late equaliser scored by Antoine Kombouaré proved to be enough to knock out Belgian club Anderlecht, after both clubs had played out a 0–0 draw in Paris in the first leg.

Even better things were to happen next. In the quarter finals, PSG faced Spanish giants Real Madrid, who had stars such as Iván Zamorano, Emilio Butragueño and Fernando Hierro within their ranks at the time. The first leg in Madrid, played on 2 March 1993, was essentially a damage limitation exercise for the French side. Real surged to a 3–1 win, with David Ginola scoring PSG's only goal.

The return leg, played in Paris on 18 March 1993, was a totally different affair. Spurred on by their fanatic supporters, Paris Saint-Germain took a first-half lead thanks to George Weah. Further goals in the second half by David Ginola and Valdo saw the locals storm to a 3–0 lead, meaning they would be qualified. Ivan Zamorano then brought both sides level on aggregate with an 89th minute strike. Just when it looked as though the two opponents were headed for extra time, Antoine Kombouaré scored a powerful header to ensure the Parisians would reach the semi-final. It was a delightful repeat of events for the defender, who had scored a goal in similar circumstances in the previous round tie with Anderlecht.

PSG eventually bowed out of the competition at the semi-final stage, losing both legs (1–2, 0–1) to eventual winners Juventus. However, for many of their fans, the success achieved against Real Madrid remained the biggest talking point of that campaign, and even today it is still fondly remembered as the beginning of PSG's love story with European club competitions.

The following season, 1993–94, saw Paris Saint-Germain win the French Championship and again, this was accompanied by a semi-final appearance in a European competition, this time in the Cup Winners' Cup. The run included wins at the expense of APOEL of Cyprus, Universitatea Craiova of Romania (6–0 on aggregate) and, again, Real Madrid (2–1 on aggregate), including a 1–0 win at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. It was the eventual winners, England's Arsenal, who stopped the Parisians' progress, with a 2–1 win on aggregate.

Having been crowned French champions in 1994, Paris Saint-Germain entered the following season as France's representative in the Champions League. Led by new manager and former club midfielder Luis Fernández, the French capital club took little time in introducing itself to its competitors. PSG won all their group stage games, entertaining Europe with their 12 goals scored (best tally for any team in the group stages) and just three conceded (second best defensive display of the group stages behind Ajax). This included a resounding couple of wins against German champions Bayern Munich, 2–0 in Paris and 1–0 in Munich.

In the quarter finals, the Parisians were faced with another continental giant, Barcelona. The Catalans then boasted stars such as Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoichkov and Romário in their ranks, and had won the la Liga for 4 consecutive seasons between 1990 and 1994. The first leg finished 1–1 at the Camp Nou, George Weah responding to Igor Korneev's 48th minute strike. PSG were praised for their spirited display; however they were still widely expected to go out in the return leg given the quality of the players present in Barcelona's roster.

The second leg was played at the Parc des Princes on 15 March 1995. Just like in their previous clashes with Barcelona's rivals Real Madrid, PSG had the support of more than 40,000 fans in a fiery atmosphere. Four minutes after the break, José Mari Bakero gave the visitors the lead. In the last 20 minutes, enthused by their good display and support from the stands, Paris Saint-Germain rallied. Brazilian star Raí brought both sides on level term, before Vincent Guérin fired the home side to victory and qualification.

The feat was widely celebrated in France as some sort of coming of age for PSG. It even made the headlines in Spain, with Spanish newspapers praising the Parisians, most particularly David Ginola, whom they dubbed "El Magnifico".

Next up were defending European champions and five-times winners Milan, an experienced side, managed by a shrewd tactician, Fabio Capello. The Italians would prove to be too much of an obstacle for PSG's players, who nevertheless still managed to give a good account of themselves. Milan won the first leg 1–0 in Paris thanks to a late Zvonimir Boban goal, and two weeks later, Dejan Savićević netted twice to make sure there would be no comeback for the French side. With this result, Paris Saint-Germain achieved the unlikely feat of getting eliminated at the semi-final stage of UEFA's three premier club cup competitions (UEFA Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Champions League) in three consecutive years.

That "semi-final curse" was to end in the 1995–96 season. Beating Rapid Wien 1–0 in Brussels, Paris Saint-Germain at last managed to earn its first European trophy, the Cup Winners' Cup. On their way to the final, the Parisian club knocked out Molde of Norway, Celtic of Scotland, Italy's Parma and Spain's Deportivo La Coruña. By winning this competition, PSG became only the second French club in history to win a European club competition; the first one had been their fierce rivals Marseille who had won the UEFA Champions League three years earlier.

In 1996–97, Paris Saint-Germain again entered the Cup Winners' Cup, with the aim of defending their trophy. The club knocked out Vaduz of Liechstenstein, Galatasaray of Turkey, AEK Athens of Greece and Liverpool on their way to another final, which saw them renew acquaintances with Barcelona in Rotterdam on 14 May 1997. PSG had done well to get this far again in the competition, however few people expected them to achieve further prowess against the Catalans.

Indeed, a lot of things had changed since the Parisians' famous win of 1995 over Barcelona. Both clubs had changed managers: Johan Cruyff had lost his post at the Camp Nou to be replaced by Bobby Robson, while at PSG, the popular Luis Fernández had vacated to make way for a more defense-minded Ricardo Gomes. In the summers of 1995 and 1996, the French capital side had lost influential elements such as David Ginola, George Weah and Youri Djorkaeff, whereas Barcelona had signed promising young talents Luís Figo and Ronaldo, both of whom would go on to win the Ballon d'Or. The combination of those elements and superiority of the Spaniards proved too much for Paris Saint-Germain, who lost the final 1–0 courtesy of a Ronaldo penalty.

This run to the final and loss proved to be PSG's swansong in Europe. A glorious era was ending for the club, as important players were getting close to retirement, thus aggravating a situation already made difficult by the departure of several star players. Under the defense-minded Ricardo Gomes, the side had lost the attacking flair that had been its hallmark under previous managers Artur Jorge and Luis Fernández. The 1997–98 and 1998–99 seasons saw Paris Saint-Germain dumped out of European competitions at early stages, with the 1998–99 Cup Winners' Cup providing the biggest humiliation: a first round elimination at the hands of virtually unknown Israelian side Maccabi Haifa. Within less than 3 years, the club had dropped from its position as one of Europe's best performing clubs to one of anonymity and indifferent displays.

2000–2006: A spent force[edit]

The 2000–01 season saw Paris-Saint Germain return to the Champions League. The subsequent European campaign turned out to be an exciting yet ultimately frustrating one. On the plus side, the first group stage saw the Parisians beat eventual winners and old foes Bayern Munich 1–0 in Paris and thrash their Scandinavian opponents Helsingborg and Rosenborg at the Parc des Princes, the respective scorelines being 4–1 and 7–2. With their 14 goals scored, the French were the second highest scoring team of the first group stage, with only holders Real Madrid netting more often than them.

On the minus side, the defensive errors marred the Parisians run in the competition. In the first group stage, in spite of achieving qualification, PSG conceded 9 goals, giving them the fourth worst defensive record among the 16 qualified teams. This Achilles' heel was to prove fatal to the club in the second group round. Paris Saint-Germain lost their first two games in the fall of 2000, including a 3–1 drubbing at home to Deportivo La Coruña. Two 1–1 draws with Milan followed, meaning the French side were bottom of their group after four matches.

Still they stood a good chance of qualification if they could manage to win their last two games. The first of those decisive matches was away to La Coruña, a side PSG had beaten on their way to their Cup Winners' Cup victory five years earlier. At the Riazor, the Parisians began brightly and gave a spirited display. A long-range strike from Jay-Jay Okocha and an individual effort by Laurent Leroy gave them a 2–0 lead at half-time. After the break, Leroy again pounced to finish off a well-rounded move, and the Parisians looked as though they were headed for a deserved and spectacular win that would keep them in the race to qualify.

The meltdown that followed turned out to be even more spectacular. Deportivo manager Javier Irureta introduced Walter Pandiani from the bench. The Uruguyan's impact was immediate as the PSG defenders struggled to deal with his aerial threat. He scored a quickfire hat-trick and an additional Roy Makaay effort completed a shock comeback for the Spaniards, while their French opponents watched with bemusement and resignation as their chances of qualifying were being shattered. PSG did win their last game 2–0 against Galatasaray, but that was no more than a consolation as they finished bottom of their group.

In the five following seasons (2001–2006), Paris Saint-Germain performed poorly in Europe, confirming their decline as a continental power. They did not even appear in any European competition in the 2003–04 and 2005–06 seasons. 2001–02 and 2002–03 saw the club crash to third round exits in the UEFA Cup, at the hands of Rangers and Boavista respectively.

Even the club's ephemeral return to the Champions League in 2004–05 provided little satisfaction. In fact, it ended in a disaster reminiscent of the 2000–01 second group stage elimination. Again, Paris Saint-Germain lost their first two group games against Chelsea and CSKA Moscow. A recovery ensued with a stunning 2–0 win against title holders Porto, followed by a draw against the same opponent in early November. When PSG managed to hold favourites Chelsea to a 0–0 draw at Stamford Bridge on matchday 5, it looked as though the French capital side would complete a spectacular recovery and qualify for the knockout stages. Going into their final game at home to CSKA Moscow, Paris Saint-Germain were second of their group, with 5 points, ahead of the Russians (4 points) and tied with F.C. Porto. However, a superior head-to-head record againstht the Portuguese club meant a win would see the Parisians through whatever Porto's result with Chelsea.

At the Parc des Princes, Sergei Semak opened the scoring for the Moscow club, before Fabrice Pancrate equalized. Meanwhile Chelsea had just scored in Porto, meaning PSG would go through if scores remained the same. The French side adopted a passive approach in the second half and were made to pay for it. Between the 64th and 70th minutes, Semak netted twice again in front of a bemused Parc des Princes crowd. CSKA won the fixture 3–1 and in the meantime, Porto overturned their deficit to beat Chelsea 2–1, thus grabbing qualification for the round of sixteen while Paris Saint-Germain finished last of the group.

Ironically, Sergei Semak, PSG's tormentor on the night (he had also scored in the first leg in Moscow), signed for the French club just two months later. He never found his feet in Paris and endured a miserable spell there while his former club went on to win the 2004–05 UEFA Cup the same season.

2006–2011: Slight improvement[edit]

Having won the Coupe de France in 2006, Paris Saint-Germain returned to the UEFA Cup in the 2006–07 season, for the first time since the 2002–03 season. They won only one of their four group games (4–0 on 13 December 2006 against Greek club Panathinaikos) but that was enough to see them through for the following round, where another Greek side, AEK Athens, were sent packing. PSG thus set up a round of 16 with Benfica. The French side won the first leg 2–1 in Paris, coming back from one goal down. In the return leg in Lisbon, Benfica won 3-1 thanks to a late penalty and thus knocked out PSG.

Four seasons later, in the 2010–11 edition of the same competition (rebranded in the meantine as Europa League), the two clubs were again pitted against each other, and in the same round. PSG had impressed in the group stages, finishing unbeaten in their six games in spite of facing tough opposition such as Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund. On the other hand, Benfica, crowned Portuguese champions in 2010, had landed in the Europa League after performing poorly in the group stages of the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League.

Again, the Encarnados proved to be too high a hurdle for the Parisians. The first leg, played at the Estádio da Luz, saw the French dominate, but with only one goal to show for it after they had wasted chance after chance. On the stroke of half time, Maxi Pereira brought both sides level and Franco Jara won it for the home side with 10 minutes to go. The second leg saw Benfica stun PSG at the Parc des Princes with a 27th minute Nicolás Gaitán strike. Mathieu Bodmer did equalize for the Parisians, but they never found a second goal that would have kept the tie alive.

In between those two setbacks at the hands of Benfica, PSG endured troubled times. The club didn't even qualify for Europe for the 2007-08 and 2009-10 seasons. In 2008–09, they did feature in what was the last edition of the UEFA Cup under that name. They qualified out of their five-team group by finishing third, having beaten Dutch club Twente 4–0 in their last game. After that, PSG downed VfL Wolfsburg and Sporting de Braga on their way to the quarter-finals, with the two wins over the German side being particularly impressive.

In April 2009, the French capital club went into their UEFA Cup quarter final with Dynamo Kyiv, knowning that an aggregate win could set up a potentially-thrilling semi-final with fellow French club and fierce rivals Olympique de Marseille. Marseille were also facing a club from Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk) and football followers in France were salivating at the thought of the PSG-OM rivalry being exported to a continental level. Little consideration was being given to the threat represented by the Ukrainian clubs, or to the possibility of the Ukrainian sides knocking out both French clubs and meeting in the semi-final.

In fact, it was just that which happened. Paris Saint-Germain were thrashed 3–0 in Kiev, having previously been held to a 0–0 stalemate in Paris. Their rivals Marseille did no better, losing both legs to Shakhtar Donetsk (0–2, 1–2), who went on to win the cup final, beating foes Dynamo Kyiv along the way.

For PSG followers, those five years between 2006 and 2011 have seen slight improvement in the club's European fortunes, yet the club's heyday of the 1990s still looks unachievable. Encouraging displays as from 2008–09, however, such as victories over Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund in seasons during which both German clubs were on their way to winning their league championship, have brought some hope back to the supporters.

Furthermore, under Paul Le Guen and, most particularly, Antoine Kombouaré, the club has rediscovered some of its attacking flair that made PSG one of the most watchable club sides in 1990s continental competitions. In the summer of 2011, investors from Qatar purchased the club and ploughed money into new signings, bringing back memories of Canal+'s takeover in 1991. Thus reinforced, the club aims to perform better in the 2011–12 edition of the Europa League.

UEFA Intertoto Cup[edit]

Paris Saint-Germain and Troyes further underlined France's proud tradition in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2001, claiming titles alongside Aston Villa. The Premier League side overpowered Basel in their final but the other matches were far closer. PSG were forced to hold on to an away-goals victory in their final against Brescia as a Roberto Baggio-inspired comeback fell short. The final tie was the sternest test for a PSG side that had breezed through their first three rounds against Jazz, Tavriya Simferopol and Gent with an aggregate scoreline of 19-2. The third final was also decided on away goals, Troyes clinching the trophy after a terrific 4-4 draw against Newcastle United at St James' Park.[11]

UEFA Super Cup[edit]

A dazzling Juventus proved too strong for Paris Saint-Germain in the 1996 UEFA Super Cup final, the Turin side hitting six goals at the Parc des Princes. Juve had needed a penalty shoot-out to defeat Ajax in a tight UEFA Champions League final the previous May, but the goals were soon flowing in Paris as the Bianconeri jumped to a 4-0 lead within 40 minutes. Sergio Porrini opened the scoring after five minutes and further goals from Michele Padovano (two) and Ciro Ferrara effectively ended the contest before the first half was over. Brazilian playmaker Raí gave the home crowd something to cheer when he converted a penalty eight minutes into the second half, but any hopes the French side had of getting back into the match ended with Laurent Fournier's 64th-minute dismissal. Late goals from Attilio Lombardo and Nicola Amoruso completed the 6-1 rout.[12]

Paris Saint-Germain had become the first French side to lift the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup when they defeated Rapid Vienna 1-0 in Brussels three months earlier, and their first-leg loss to Juventus had not done justice to a side boasting the likes of Bernard Lama, Didier Domi, Paul Le Guen, Bruno N'Gotty and Patrice Loko. Again, however, in front of a crowd of 35,000 in Palermo, Juventus imposed themselves. Alessandro Del Piero was the greatest threat and he scored either side of another Raí penalty to stretch Juventus's aggregate lead. Substitute Christian Vieri added a third in the final minute to round out a convincing 9-2 aggregate triumph.[12]

All-time results[edit]

As of 29 May 2011.
All official competitions.