When French champions Paris Saint-Germain brought in Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, and Achraf Hakimi last summer, many thought that wrapping up a first UEFA Champions League crown in the club’s history was a mere formality. The Parisians already boasted both Kylian Mbappé and Neymar in their ranks, and the addition of more firepower would surely see them springboard to European success. Just as they have this term, OddsChecker, which compares football odds and free offers, made the club from the French capital the favorites to lift the big-eared trophy.
But PSG were unable to break their Champions League curse. The Parisians finished second behind Manchester City in the group stages, which set up a difficult last-16 tie with record champions Real Madrid. But it looked as though Messi and co. would progress at a canter. With half an hour remaining in the Bernabeu, they held a two-goal lead and Los Blancos looked like a beaten side. Step up Karim Benzema. The French striker netted a late hat trick to stun the visitors and send the hosts on their way to a 14th crown.
PSG’s recent seasons in Europe
Since the French club’s mega-money Qatari takeover back in 2011, they have reached the latter stages of the Champions League just twice. In 2020, they reached the final before being downed in Lisbon by Bayern Munich. The following season, they reached the semifinals, only to be beaten home and away by Manchester City. Other than that, the Parisians have consistently exited the competition at either the second round or quarter-final stage.
This season marks Paris Saint-Germain’s tenth consecutive visit to European football’s most elite of dinner parties. And they look like they mean business. They were unbeaten in the group stages but inexplicably finished second behind Benfica, who put six past Maccabi Haifa in their final group game to secure top spot. That has set up a repeat of the 2020 final against Bayern Munich in the second round, and if Christophe Galtier can gain redemption for their most heartbreaking of defeats three years ago, they may well be unstoppable in their quest of bringing the famous big-eared trophy back to France for the first time in 30 years.
While the Bavarians aren’t as strong as they were when they lifted the crown in 2020, PSG are much, much stronger. Both Mbappé and Messi were in scintillating form for their countries in the FIFA World Cup and contested the final against each other. If they can continue in a similar vein at club level, the rest of Europe should beware.