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The star-studded PSG team that took on Liverpool in their one and only tie


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At a time when trying to increase the competitiveness of the Champions League group stages and raising the profile of the Europa League remains somewhat of a live issue, it's interesting that UEFA have been increasingly talking about adding a third continental competition to their ranks. Perhaps it will fill the vacuum left by the old UEFA Cup Winners Cup.

That will mean future Europa League campaigns will see 32 clubs each involved in the official first stage of the Champions League, Europa League and the as-of-yet established third tournament.

But that's all on the long finger and in more pressing matters the group stages of the two existing competitions kick off this week. You can check out our Power Rankings of the Premier League sides in the Champions League right here.

But let's go back in time to one of this week’s head to heads.

While Tottenham and Inter Milan have met relatively recently at Champion League level (you may remember Gareth Bale tormenting Maicon because the Brazilian full back won't have forgotten), Liverpool and Paris Saint Germain have to go all the way back to the old UEFA Cup Winners Cup for their last and only two-legged encounter.

It was April 1997, semi final time. PSG were the Cup Winners Cup holders having won the 1995-96 tournament, while Liverpool had qualified by dint of losing the ‘96 FA Cup final to Manchester United and finishing in the European places through the league.

It's that far back in time that Roy Evans was still sole manager and names like ex-Norway defender Stig Inge Bjornebye, an old interviewee of mine Razor Ruddock and an almost 34-year-old John Barnes and keeper David James populated the first team.

And we had Irish representation in the shape of Jason McAteer, Mark Kennedy and Phil Babb, although the latter did not feature in either leg against PSG, with Kennedy coming off the bench at Anfield in the second leg for Patrick Berger with just over 20 minutes to go.

A very different time for Irish players in Europe and also for Liverpool’s opponents.

PSG would beat the Reds 3-0 in the first leg and escape Anfield with a 2-0 defeat before almost retaining their Cup Winners Cup crown, only to lose to Barcelona in the final.

While PSG are flush with cash from their Qatari owners, the mid-90s were their previous high point. As French football writer Julien Laurens told me this Spring, the backing from TV channel Canal+ was a boost for the Parisian club in that decade.

And when you look at the players they had back then, it's no surprise they enjoyed success domestically and in Europe during the 1990s.

Here are the most memorable players that faced Liverpool over two legs 21 years ago

Bernard Lama

A 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner, he was a very able No 2 to Fabien Barthez and was France’s starting keeper at Euro 96. I may have been 7 but I still remember him saving Clarence Seedorf’s penalty in the quarter final shootout against the Dutch.

For PSG, he kept goal as they won a league, two French Cups and the aforementioned Cup Winners Cup.

Paris St Germain V Liverpool. The Collymore/Fowler strike force is thwarted by Paris St Germains Bruno Ngotty in tonight's (Thursday) European Cup Winners' Cup semi-final 1st leg match in Paris. Pic Dave Kendall./PA

Didier Domi

The left back was no stranger to the Premier League where he played for Newcastle and also briefly on loan at Leeds.

The PSG youth team graduate won trophies everywhere else though including at PSG, Espanyol and Olympiakos.

Bruno N’Gotty

Another player eagle-eyed Premier League nostalgists would remember. He spent the latter part of his career in England, most notably at Big Sam’s Bolton. Before that, he'd been part of the AC Milan squad that won Serie A in 1999.

He scored PSG’s winning goal in the 1996 Cup Winners Cup final.

Paul Le Guen

He's now more well known as a manager, although his star has faded significantly with a forgettable Rangers spell in 2006-07.

He made over 400 appearances as a player for PSG from 1991-1998 winning trophies galore and earning 17 France caps. Le Guen would go on to manage the club between 2007 and 2009.

Benoit Cauet

A midfielder who went on to play for Inter Milan and won league titles at Marseille and Nantes.

Laurent Fournier

Earned three France caps and was part of the league and cup winning PSG squads across two spells with the club.

He started the 1991 European Cup final when Marseille lost to Red Star Belgrade who are back in this season's competition where they have been drawn against PSG and Liverpool.

Vincent Guerin

He was once reserve team manager at PSG just over a decade ago. Also won trophies regularly as a player for the club and was part of France’s Euro 96 squad.

Jerome Leroy

He had two spells for PSG, either side of time at rivals Marseille

Leonardo

He's now a slick sporting director for his former club AC Milan, a role he had previously fulfilled at PSG, and has also dabbled in management in Serie A before that.

A 1994 World Cup winning midfielder (tarnished somewhat by his elbow to the head of USA’s Tab Ramos which earned him a deserved red card), he was also part of the 1998 Brazil squad.

Rai

Leonardo’s World Cup winning team-mate was part of that functional 1994 squad as an attacking midfielder.

At club level, he was also part of that successful PSG era from 1993 to 1998

Also well-known as the younger brother of late Brazil legend Socrates of the 1980s teams.


Patrice Loko

When Lama saved Seedorf’s penalty in 1996, I distinctly remember Loko being on the pitch that day, although he was no longer part of the France team two years later when they won the World Cup.

One of top French strikers of his era, he helped Nantes win the league in 1995 as top scorer with 22 goals before moving to PSG where he helped them win the Cup Winners Cup. 


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