At most football clubs, winning a domestic league would be considered a good season. Paris Saint-Germain are not most football clubs. Since the club was acquired by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, expectations have been on a whole different level.

PSG finished second in their first season as a mega-rich club, with Montpellier surprisingly taking the 2011-12 Ligue 1 title. However, eight of the 10 seasons that followed saw the Parisians win the league, with the club finishing second to Monaco in 2017, and Lille in 2021. PSG have now won the French top flight ten times, no side has won it more, and in domestic football the club are always favourites in SkyBet football betting.

However, there’s a sense that the superclub is now a big fish in a small pond. Winning the league title is seen as a formality at this point, barring exceptional circumstances. Monaco won the title largely through the emergence of Kylian Mbappé, while Unai Emery’s management didn’t help PSG. Lille’s title win came in the middle of a chaotic season for the capital club, with a managerial change halfway through the campaign after internal strife. Even in those circumstances, after taking over at the turn of the year, Pochettino took the team within one point of a title win.

However, none of this counts as credit for a PSG manager. The team holds the joint record for winning Ligue 1 (10), the record for most Coupe de France wins (14), and the record for most Trophée des Champions wins (10).

For the Parisians, a season is defined by one thing: European success. Aside from the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1996, and the Intertoto Cup in 2001, PSG have no real European pedigree, and they’ve found competition in the Champions League tough going over the last decade. The club have made a name for themselves as perennial disappointments in continental competition.

From 2013 to 2016, they made the quarter-finals of the competition four years in a row. Although it felt like a solid foundation as they settled into their new life as a European heavyweight, a lack of progress in Europe began to emerge. In those four seasons, PSG were knocked out twice by Barcelona, and once by both Manchester City and Chelsea. The 5-1 aggregate loss in the 2014-15 season was humbling, but the club’s reputation for fluffing their lines in Europe began the season before.

PSG were drawn against Chelsea, and did well to win the first leg 3-1. They travelled to Stamford Bridge with the advantage, but failed to make it count. Chelsea scored after half an hour, and Demba Ba scored a second, minutes from time, to complete the comeback and see the Blues through on away goals. While PSG fans would have hoped that their team was simply acclimatising to the European competition, things got worse.

The 2016-17 season saw PSG drawn against Barcelona in the round of 16. The Parisians won the first leg 4-0 at home, but went on to lose 6-1 in Barcelona, conceding three goals in the closing stages to go out 6-5 on aggregate. There have been green shoots of progress, the club reached the semi-final in 2021, and were runners up in 2020. However, they once again found themselves out in the round of 16 in 2022, three goals from Real Madrid turning the tie on its head after PSG were 2-0 up on aggregate.

The club’s rapid change in trajectory has brought with it a rapid change in expectations. Domestic success is to expected from a club that’s backed as well as the Parisian outfit are. The fanbase want to see their club go head to head with European giants, ambitions that match their new status in the sport, and so far PSG have failed to deliver in that regard.

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By SARAH