Surprising as it may sound, only one French side has ever lifted the most prestigious trophy in European football. That monumental triumph came for a mighty Marseille side, who narrowly beat an equally star-studded AC Milan 1-0 to win the Champions League in 1993.
Prior to that monumental occasion, only two other clubs hailing from France had managed to reach the final. Saint-Etienne travelled to Hampden Park in Glasgow for the 1976 final, only to lose 1-0 Bayern Munich. To give that result some perspective for Les Verts, they faced a Bayern side packed with German football legends. Amongst them were Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Gerd Muller, and Uli Hoeness.
Stade de Reims were the original French pathfinders, who reached two finals back when the European Cup first began. In 1953 they were beaten 4-3 by Real Madrid in a thrilling tussle at Parc des Princes in Paris. Just a few years later in 1959, Reims faced the Spanish giants once again, this time losing 2-0 at the Neckarstadion in Stuttgart.
Despite producing so many exceptionally talented players over the years, with several clubs also building teams packed with stellar quality in different eras, France has never quite managed to enjoy the same level of continental success, when compared to other leading countries. That said, there are hopes that 2020 could finally be a golden year.
For an indication of how French teams are likely to fare in the Champions League, if you were to bet on this weeks football odds, PSG are priced at 13/10 to beat surprise Italian outfit Atalanta in their quarter-final encounter. This would set up a semi-final meeting with either Red Bull Leipzig or Atletico Madrid. Providing they can get safely past Atalanta, and while it’s fair to say that neither potential rival should be taken lightly, PSG would certainly fancy their chances. German outfit RB Leipzig are considered to be one of the Champions League underdogs, while Atletico Madrid have endured a disappointing domestic campaign, far behind Real Madrid and Barcelona in the race for La Liga.
Given what looks to be quite an advantageous path towards the final, PSG are actually amongst the favourites to succeed. They are currently priced at 5/1 odds at betting exchanges to lift the famous Champions League trophy. Doubts will always linger, due to the Parisians having fallen short so often in recent years. However, the team already has a taste for silverware this season.
Meanwhile, the path for Lyon looks a little more complicated. Although they produced an excellent 1-0 victory against Juventus in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, bookmakers aren’t convinced they will preserve that advantage. Current betting exchange odds have Lyon priced at 100/1 to claim another victory, while Juventus are clear favourites at 18/1 odds.
However, should Les Gones manage to beat the Italian giants, their odds of winning the Champions League will surely be slashed. At the moment, outright winner odds have notable ranges amongst the leading online bookmakers, which reflects a lack of confidence that Lyon can achieve what many believe to be an impossible dream.
Nevertheless, while PSG and Lyon are there and competing, especially with the competition being played in somewhat unique and unusual circumstances, there’s always the chance that France could at last produce a Champions League winner this year.