Could a French team win the Champions League?

Marseille’s tainted Champions League win of 1992-93 is the only time in the competition’s history that a French team has got its hands on the trophy.

The following season AS Monaco reached the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners AC Milan, and the following season Paris Saint-Germain followed the same fate to the Italian giants at the same stage.

That was PSG’s one and only Champions League final four appearance prior to Wednesday’s dramatic 2-1 victory against Atalanta.

In 1995-96 won the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup; the only European title in their trophy cabinet. That same season, Nantes also reached the final four of the Champions League, losing 4-3 on aggregate to Juventus, who beat Ajax on penalties in the final.

In fact, since Marseille’s victory in 1993, the only Ligue 1 side to have even appeared in the final since was Monaco – that’s when they were hammered 3-0 by Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in 2004.

France have produced six finalists in all – including the runners-up of the inaugural tournament in 1955-56: Stade de Reims. The same team appeared in the final three years later, with the same result: losing to Real Madrid.

Saint-Etienne were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich in 1976 and Marseille themselves lost on penalties to Red Star Belgrade two years before they got their hands on the trophy.

Why was Marseille’s victory tainted with controversy? Club president Bernard Tapie would later be found guilty of match-fixing the 1992-93 Ligue 1 campaign to assist them of the title. It would be stripped and the southern club were relegated to Division 2 and banned from European football the following season. They got to keep their Champions League trophy though.

The 2019-20 Champions League semi-finals see Paris Saint-Germain face RB Leipzig and Lyon take on Bayern Munich in single-legged affairs in Portugal.

PSG and Bayern are the heavy favourites to get to the final at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on Sunday 23 August. But Lyon have been underdogs in the previous two rounds – beating Juventus on away goals and then Manchester City 3-1. Can they really be overlooked versus the German champions?

Rudi Garcia is a good tactician and all but he’d need to come up with the plan of all plans to see off this Bayern Munich side that are coming off the back of a 7-1 aggregate win over Chelsea and an 8-2 demolition of Barcelona.

Meanwhile, PSG will go into their match versus RB Leipzig as the favourites. Though they needed two dramatic late goals to get past Atalanta in the previous round, they will have Kylian Mbappe fit to start this one.

With the likes of Neymar, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria all in attack, PSG can never be overlooked to go all the way. In the past they have been slammed for playing in a weaker league, but now they are just two wins away from glory.

Though, should PSG or Lyon lift ol’ big ears this summer, many may still think it would only be a hollow victory with the disruption the world and football have gone through over the past five months…

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