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PSG’s decade of Champions League heartbreak

Since the Qatar Investment Group took over PSG in 2011, the goal was always to win the Champions League, but after six coache, that goal remains unachieved.


Paris Saint Germain have never won the Champions League. It has been there main goal to finally get that trophy since the Qatar Investment Group took over in 2011. Since then, ten UCL seasons have passed, and in those ten attempts, they have been so close to glory, they could taste it. But in the end, they suffered heartbreaking exits at the hands of six different coaches.

PSG: A decade of heartbreak in the Champions League

2012-2013: Carlo Ancelotti

Ahead of the 2012 season, Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as the new manager of PSG. He was confident in his team, which included Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. They played an excellent group phase, winning five and tying one game, and then went on to beat Valencia in the last 16. The dream ended there, though. PSG lost in the quarterfinals against Barcelona on away goals (3-3 aggregate). That loss resulted in the end to Ancelotti’s 18-month stint with the club.

2013-2016: Laurent Blanc

Laurent Blanc was confirmed as the new head coach of PSG to start the 2013 season. The squad also gained Edinson Cavani and Marquinhos that year. Under Blanc’s leadership, PSG failed to get past the last eight for three seasons in a row. They were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Chelsea on a 3-3 aggregate in 2013, by Barcelona on a 1-5 aggregate in 2014, and by Manchester City on a 2-3 aggregate in 2015.

“I am responsible,” said Blanc in 2016. “I picked the team, I picked the players, I picked the tactics. When you win, the players are responsible for the win. When you lose, you know very well that it is the coach’s fault.”

2016-2018: Unai Emery

The day after Blanc’s contract was terminated, PSG appointed Unai Emery as manager. At that point, Ibrahimovic left Paris and David Luiz was sold to Chelsea. Blanc’s time in Paris is remembered best for the infamous Remontada, when PSG allowed Barcelona a huge second-leg comeback win in the Round of 16. PSG was up after winning 4-0 at home, but imploded on the second leg, losing 6-1 at Camp Nou.

“It is a difficult time,” said Emery in 2017. “What happened on the field was a negative experience. It’s a missed opportunity for the club.

Emery was awarded two new stars with the addition of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé and they made another run for glory the next year. But again, they fell in the quarterfinals to Real Madrid on a 5-2 aggregate.

2018-2020: Thomas Tuchel

After Emery’s time came to an end, Thomas Tuchel took over for PSG in 2018 on a two-year contract. He had a good track record in Germany, though he had not succeeded in taking them past the quarterfinals of the Champions League. He would attempt to take PSG, but his first try resulted in a last-16 exit after losing to Manchester United, 3-1. PSG got closer than ever in Tuchel’s second season, making it all the way to the final only to lose 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

“We had big chances to score the first goal,” Tuchel said in 2020. “I am absolutely convinced that we can play the same game and win 1-0 if we had scored the first goal, but it wasn’t the case.”

2021-2022: Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino took over for Tuchel at the end of his contract in January 2021. Thiago Silva left PSG that same year and went to Chelsea. With Neymar and Mbappé still leading the squad, Pochettino helped them get past Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League. But Manchester City proved too difficult to stop and PSG was eliminated in the semifinals in a 4-1 aggregate. Even with Lionel Messi on their side, the next season was another disappointment, as PSG was knocked out in the last 16 by Real Madrid.

2022-Present: Christophe Galtier

PSG is now with new head coach Christophe Galtier, but it’s proved to be more of the same curse. PSG lost in both legs to Bayern in the round of 16, failing to score a single goal and exiting the tournament early once again.

“We didn’t open the scoring when we had the chance. We did well in the first half, we felt we could match our opponents, but we didn’t put away our chances,” said Galtier.

Though Galtier himself would not speculate on his future, it’s likely PSG will be looking for another new coach soon.


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