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Friday, May 10, 2024

Mbappe misery, Barcelona bottle-job: PSG’s Champions League exits ranked by ridiculousness

Paris Saint-Germain have spent over €1.9 billion on transfers since the summer of 2011, their first window under the ownership of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). In that time, they have utterly failed to win the Champions League, only reaching the final once.

They have had some ridiculously silly exits from Europe’s premier competition and after missing out on this season’s final by failing to knock out a beatable Borussia Dortmund side in the semi-finals ↗, we have ranked all of the many ways they have been dumped out of the Champions League since being taken over by the Qataris 13 years ago.

12) 2014/15 – Quarter-final v Barcelona (5-1)
PSG’s only goal in this tie was scored by Barcelona’s Jeremy Mathieu. The only thing silly about this one is how bloody good Treble winners Barcelona were. Future PSG players Lionel Messi and Neymar smoked them, managed by current PSG manager Luis Enrique.

Remember Luis Suarez’s goal when he nutmegs David Luiz, puts the ball unnecessarily postage stamp and then squeals while celebrating? That was in the first leg. Fun times.

11) 2017/18 – Round of 16 v Real Madrid (5-2)
After the tie that shall not be named (yet), PSG found themselves up against reigning champions Real Madrid, who were looking to win their third Champions League trophy on the bounce.

PSG were one of the favourites to win it in 17/18 though, lining up with Kylian Mbappe ↗ and Neymar, but it was Adrien Rabiot that gave them the lead in the first leg. That was before a Cristiano Ronaldo brace and Marcelo strike gave Madrid a two-goal lead heading to Paris.

Pure and simple, Madrid were just too good for PSG.

10) 2020/21 – Semi-final v Manchester City (4-1)
After a strong opening 45 minutes in the first leg, Mauricio Pochettino’s side couldn’t really get close to Manchester City, who came from behind to win the first leg before shutting out Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to win the second leg 2-0.

Even with Mbappe and Neymar, PSG were amusingly establishing themselves as a team incapable of winning the biggest prize in club football.

9) 2012/13 – Quarter-final v Barcelona (3-3)
The highlights of this match gave us a good insight into what football was like pre-VAR. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a goal despite being two yards offside right in front of the assistant referee before Xavi converted a spot-kick with two PSG players up his arse.

This was PSG’s first Champions League campaign after becoming disgustingly wealthy and they went out on away goals to a very good Barcelona side managed by Tito Vilanova after 1-1 and 2-2 draws. In fact, avoiding defeat in both was a pretty decent accomplishment for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

8) 2015/16 – Quarter-final v Man City (3-2)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty to open the scoring in the first leg before Kevin De Bruyne broke the deadlock. After coming from behind to lead, they conceded another away goal after some comical defending, giving City the away goals bonus that has cost PSG dear in previous seasons.

Sergio Aguero missed a penalty of his own at 0-0 at the Etihad before De Bruyne broke another deadlock to send City in to the last four.

Besides Ibra’s penalty miss, there was no real silliness here, just a great Champions League quarter-final between two pure football souls who have completely innocently risen to the top of their respective domestic games.

7) 2019/20 – Final v Bayern Munich (1-0)
PSG’s first time making it beyond the last eight of the competition saw them reach the bloody final. This was during the Covid season when there was only one leg in the quarters and beyond.

This was a hard result to call but former PSG winger Kingsley Coman scored the only goal of the game to deny Thomas Tuchel’s side the victory.

It was a dull game in truth and the Parisiens did not lose because of their own silliness, but simply because, from Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to Leandro Paredes and Juan Bernat, they did not turn up on the night.

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6) 2022/23 – Round of 16 v Bayern Munich (3-0)
A few years after losing in the final to Bayern, they were trounced in the first knockout round. It was that man Kingsley Coman again, scoring against his old club and, despite peppering them and having two goals chopped off, PSG could not get a goal to take them to Munich.

The tie was killed off by ex-Parisien Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting because of course it was. Silly, silly PSG.

5) 2023/24 – Semi-final v Borussia Dortmund (2-0)
This one will sting for a while. With all due respect to Borussia Dortmund, the French champions were the resounding favourites to win this tie and progress to this season’s final at Wembley. Despite all the woodwork hits, they came up second best across both legs and flopped in what could be their best chance for some time with Kylian Mbappe off in the summer.

The perfect opportunity presented itself but Luis Enrique could not mastermind a victory over the fifth-best team in Germany, while Mbappe failed to do anything remotely impressive in 180 minutes of football.

4) 2013/14 – Quarter-final v Chelsea (3-3)
After dispatching Bayer Leverkusen in the round of 16, PSG would take on Chelsea in another battle between two pure footballing souls. A wonderful Javier Pastore goal (that Petr Cech should have saved) in the 93rd minute of the first leg gave the Parisiens a very healthy two-goal lead that they would surrender at Stamford Bridge.

Surrender they did. Silly it was. Three minutes away from making the semis for the first time under QSI, Demba Ba popped up with a late goal to send Chelsea through thanks to the deceased away goals rule.

PSG got their revenge a year later, knocking the Blues out on away goals in the last 16.

3) 2021/22 – Round of 16 v Real Madrid (3-2)
This was the year that Champions League top dogs Real Madrid was simply inevitable, even against tournament favourites PSG, who had brought in none other than Lionel Messi, the greatest player in the world, to form a stupid front three alongside Neymar and Mbappe. A round-of-16 exit was not in the script, was it?

Mbappe gave PSG a 1-0 lead to take with them to the Spanish capital and would actually go 1-0 up on the road thanks to the French superstar, who was furiously linked with a move to Madrid the following summer. Two goals up and cruising, PSG’s bottle absolutely crashed.

With 30 minutes left in the tie, Gianluigi Donnarumma had an almighty cock-up to hand Madrid a goal and a kick up the backside. PSG were still winning on aggregate but that was about to change. Karim Benzema fired in his second of the night to draw things level overall with 15 minutes left and before the Los Blancos fans were sat back in their chairs, Benzema was poking in for his hat-trick after PSG surrendered possession from kick-off, with Mbappe’s best pal capitalising on a half-arsed clearance from Marquinhos.

The drama was second to none as Messi had a rare bad night at the Bernabeu. This was an all-timer Champions League tie and some peak silliness from PSG.

2) 2018/19 – Round of 16 v Manchester United (3-3)
Ole was at the wheel and Manchester United were back. That is what Rio Ferdinand said. But what Rio Ferdinand did not consider is that PSG are big silly bottle merchants in Europe. Silly PSG. Silly Rio.

In the first leg at Old Trafford, PSG cruised to a 2-0 victory that flattered the Red Devils. It was a mature away performance and the tie had no right to get away from the French side. But of course it did.

In that lovely pink kit on a memorable evening in Paris, United overcame the 2-0 deficit, winning 3-1 on the night and progressing on away goals. Romelu Lukaku’s opener looked to have come in vain when Juan Bernat equalised but a massive blunder by Gigi Buffon helped Lukaku convert his second on the night.

With PSG anxiously playing out the dying embers of the match, a Diogo Dalot strike hit Presnel Kimpembe’s arm and Marcus Rashford converted a late penalty to clinch the tie on away goals. Ridiculous stuff but at least it gave us two years of outstanding Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United content.

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Do you agree with our ranking? Join the debate here. ↗

1) 2016/17 – Round of 16 v Barcelona (6-5)
No other tie stood a chance in hell of topping this. What an almighty bottle-job. Shame on you, Unai Emery. Shame. On. You.

This was not only PSG’s greatest Champions League bottle-job but the greatest of Champions League bottle-jobs, excluding finals of course. Istanbul will never be beaten. Although that has always been remembered as a great comeback, not a bottle-job. Any ideas why the narrative is different here? Is it because how funny it was from PSG outweighs how impressive it was from Barca?

A lovely 4-0 home win for PSG meant they had one foot in the quarters but they lost 6-1 at the Nou Camp, because of course they did.

With the score at 3-0 on the night, Edinson Cavani popped up with what was expected to be a pivotal away goal to seal PSG’s qualification. It was not. There might have been a few questionable refereeing decisions but goals in the 88th, 91st and 95th minute sent Barca through. It still blows your mind thinking about it. Unai bloody Emery.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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