PSG’s Record in the Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain, or PSG for short, have been the dominant team in France for many years now. In 2011 they were bought by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), essentially the Qatari state. It did not take long for the vast wealth of the new owners to have an impact and they won the French league title for just the third time in 2012/13, that success coming almost 20 years after their previous championship.

Since then they have almost monopolised the domestic honours, winning a further eight top-tier titles, plus six national cups and a further six league cups too. But in truth, QSI was probably hoping for a little more when they decided to bankroll the Parisian outfit. European supremacy was their aim, with the global recognition that brings a big part of the reason they invested.

However, PSG are yet to win the Champions League under their current owners and, in fact, have not won any European silverware since QSI took over. But how have they got on in the Champions League (and its forerunner the European Cup) overall? In this feature, we look at their overall record and their best performances.

Have PSG Ever Won the Champions League?

PSG Champions League logosPSG have never, in fact, won the UCL, in their relatively short history. That makes Paris perhaps the largest city in Europe without a win in the competition and PSG and everyone connected with the club are desperate to change that. They won the European Cup Winners’ Cup back in 1995/96 and also the minor Intertoto Cup in 2001 but major UEFA silverware has eluded them. They were only founded in 1970 but even so, that is more than 50 years without reaching the summit of European football.

They have competed in the European Cup once and the Champions League 16 times including 2023/24. They have played in the competition every season since 2012/13 but, ahead of the semis of the 2023/24 campaign, are yet to claim glory.

PSG’s Best Season in the Champions League

The French side made the semis at their first attempt in the Champions League, in 1994/95, having gone out in the first round of the European Cup in 1986/87. However, since then they have very much flattered to deceive and under the current ownership have almost always gone out at the quarter final stage or even earlier, at the Round of 16.

However, in 2019/20, when they completed a clean sweep of the domestic honours, they achieved their best finish ever in the competition. They romped to the Ligue 1 title in a season cut short due to the global health crisis of the time, and also landed the Coupe de France, Coupe de Ligue and the French super cup, the Trophee des Champions.

They had such a strong squad at the time, with the likes of Keylor Navas in goal, Thiago Silva as skipper, plus attacking talents including Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi, Edinson Cavani and Julian Draxler. They topped their Champions League group, going unbeaten and taking 16 points to see off Real Madrid.

They had a relatively kind, and (certainly for them) unusually favourable draw too, getting the better of Borussia Dortmund in the last 16, before seeing off Atalanta and RB Leipzig in the quarters and semis respectively. Both of those latter two ties were over a single leg due to the pandemic but that should not take anything away from the achievements of Mbappe and co.

A third German side, the biggest of them all, awaited in the final. The clash with Bayern Munich took place in Lisbon, essentially behind closed doors, with an official attendance of zero. What impact the lack of fans had we cannot know, but PSG were outplayed in the second half of a tight game and lost 1-0.

At the time of writing they face a semi final against Borussia Dortmund in 2023/24 but for now at least, that is the only time Paris Saint-Germain have ever made the final of the Champions League.

Summary of PSG’s Champions League Record

PSG stadium
fifg via Bigstockphoto

The table below shows how many times the side from the French capital have reached each stage of the competition. Note that this excludes the 2023/24 season, which is ongoing. Additionally, this includes when the competition was known as the European Cup. Note that the format and structure of the competition have changed many times over the years, so not all rounds have existed in every season.

Round Times Exited Years
First 1 1986/87
Group Stage 2 1997/98, 2004/05,
Second Group Stage 1 2000/01
Round of 16 5 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2021/22, 2022/23
Quarter Finals 4 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16
Semis 2 1994/95, 2020/21
Final 1 2019/20

As we can see, for seven years in a row they exited the competition at either the last 16, or the last eight. That run, from 2012/13 to 2018/19 was only broken by their improved performance in the two campaigns that followed, before they once again slipped into that familiar pattern in 2021/22 and 2022/23.

This term they have gone at least one step further and with a semi against Dortmund to come they will really fancy their chances of making a second final. Having won so convincingly at the Nou Camp in the quarters (they beat Barcelona 4-1 to overturn a 3-2 home defeat) they will fancy their chances. However, whichever side awaits in the final will certainly be a big step up in class, with the other half of the draw undoubtedly far tougher.

Will PSG Ever Win the Champions League?

With teams like Man City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool to go up against, winning this competition is clearly incredibly tough. That’s ignoring Barca, the rising force that is Bayer Leverkusen and Newcastle, who will be looking to become contenders in the years ahead. It took Man City a long time to finally get there, despite the brilliance of Pep Guardiola and the millions, well, hundreds and hundreds of millions, they spent.

So it is hardly the greatest shock in the world that PSG have not yet claimed UCL glory. They bought Neymar, Mbappe, Lionel Messi and so many other world class stars but success is never guaranteed. That said, there is no sign of their owners losing the appetite for success on the grandest stage and with continued investment it is surely a matter of when, not if.

That said, they will lose Mbappe to Real in the summer on a free transfer, a move which hurts them on the pitch with no financial upside. So, perhaps 2023/24 is the best chance they will get for many years, but can they take it?