The qualifying rounds and group stages of the 2022-23 UEFA club competitions are out of the way. As we roll into 2023, here is a look back at what the Ligue 1 representatives have done in the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Europa Conference League. Each of the six teams will be discussed, then a look at what it means for France as a whole from a coefficient perspective. 

Ligue 1 in the Champions League 

Paris St. Germain 

Reclaiming the Ligue 1 title last campaign, PSG’s Champions League group saw them battle Juventus, Benfica and Maccabi Haifa. While it was always expected that Les Parisiens would be going toe-to-toe with another side for top spot, most did not expect for it to be Benfica. 

Along with the Portuguese giants, PSG is still unbeaten in competitive matches at the time of writing. It all started off with a 2-1 success at home to Juventus. Avoiding an upset of immense proportions, Christophe Galtier’s men came from behind to top Maccabi Haifa 3-1 in Israel. A pair of 1-1 draws with Benfica followed, setting both sides up to make the last 16. 

A 7-2 thumping of Maccabi Haifa confirmed progression from the group stages. PSG’s group stage play was completed with a second 2-1 win over Juve. Despite the 4-2-0 record, it was not enough for PSG to claim top spot as Benfica – also 4-2-0 with an identical goal difference – won the section courtesy of scoring more away goals. 

As a result, PSG’s round of 16 tie is against Bayern Munich. These two have seen time and time again. The two will meet for the fourth time in six seasons, which includes Bayern’s 1-0 win in the 2019/20 final. However, Les Parisiens have the better head-to-head, winning six of 11 previous meetings (Bayern won the other five games). 

Taking a look at PSG’s UEFA club coefficient, they have managed to earn 19.000 points after the group stage. Only Bayern’s 21.000 eclipses them in this campaign. As for PSG’s five-year points haul, they sit in fifth place with 112.000 points.  

 

Olympique Marseille 

The only French team who failed to pass a European group stage this fall, there were high hopes on Marseille this time around. The team finally looked like one who could wreak havoc if given the right group. Receiving Eintracht Frankfurt, Tottenham Hotspur and Sporting CP, there was enough reason to believe that France’s sole former European Cup winner could reach the knockout stages in the UCL for the first time since 2011/12. 

Things could not have gotten off to a worse start. Defeats to Spurs (2-0 away) and Frankfurt (1-0 at home) immediately put Les Olympiens in a difficult situation. That would immediately be turned around, due to back-to-back wins over Sporting (4-1 in France and 2-0 in Portugal). But once again, Igor Tudor’s men would falter when it mattered most. A 2-1 reverse at Frankfurt was followed with another 2-1 loss, this time to Spurs. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s last kick of the game sent Marseille out of Europe. The last gasp goal allowed Sporting to pass them for third. 

Despite the elimination, Marseille did end up with 8.000 points added to their five-year coefficient, which stands at 33.000. They will end the season just outside of the top 50 in 52nd spot, and can now switch their focus to domestic play. 

Ligue 1 in the Europa League 

Nantes 

Back in Europe for the first time in two decades, the Coupe de France holders were largely overlooked during the draw. In the end, Les Canaris were grouped with Olympiakos Piraeus, Qarabag and Freiburg. Achieving a top two finish did look rather challenging. 

A 2-1 victory over Olympiakos was the perfect start for Antoine Kombouaré’s side. Unfortunately for them, three successive losses would follow. They failed to score in the 3-0 reverse to Qarabag plus the 4-0 and 2-0 defeats to Freiburg. Sitting on three points from four games, Nantes collected two more wins (2-1 over Qarabag and 2-0 at Olympiakos). That allowed them to steal second place from the Azeri champions. The three wins plus finishing second won Nantes 8.000 coefficient points in their European return. 

A meeting with Juventus in the knockout round playoffs is the reward for Les Canaris. It will not be the first time the pair will meet in Europe. The Italians prevailed in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup quarterfinals at Nantes’ expense. 

  

AS Monaco 

A 95th minute goal from Cameroonian Ignatius Ganago on the last day of the league campaign last season denied Monaco 10 league wins on the spin. Even more importantly, that same goal saw Marseille pass Monaco for the other automatic Champions League spot. That left Les Monegasques with the third qualifying round spot. 

The pain continued for Philippe Clement’s charges in that very round. Another late goal in the second leg against PSV forced extra time, where the Dutch club found a winner 10 minutes from time. That dropped the principlaity side to the Europa League. There, they would face Crvena zvezda, Ferencvaros and Trabzonspor in a fascinating group of Champions League dropouts. 

Defeating Crvena zvezda 1-0 away in their first group match, Monaco would suffer a shock loss by the same score to Ferencvaros. Despite a 3-1 victory at the Stade Louis II to Trabzonspor, Les Rouge et Blanc collapsed in Turkey, going down 4-0. Conceding an 83rd minute equalizer in their next match in Hungary, Monaco would have to settle for a draw at Fradi. Needing a win to progress in their final game, they achieved exactly that via a 4-1 result over Red Star. A further 9.000 points from this fall’s action brings Monaco’s five-year coefficient total to 29.000, leaving them 59th in that ranking. 

Second spot from group play leaves Monaco in the knockout playoffs, facing Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen. All six previous matches in Europe came in the Champions League group stage. The Ligue 1 side won three and drew two of those previous clashes. 

 

Stade Rennais 

Just missing out on Champions League football, Rennes would have to settle for the next best thing; Europa League. They were dealt a potentially entertaining draw, as Dynamo Kyiv, Fenerbahçe and AEK Larnaca were the opponents. 

Lorenz Assignon would give Les Rouge et Noir a win with a 94th minute winner at AEK Larnaca. It would be a reversal of fortune just a week later, as Fenerbahçe would snag a point in the 92nd minute despite Rennes going up 2-0. The late game drama would continue in the third game, as Désiré Doué found the net in the 89th minute to put Rennes over Dynamo Kyiv. 

Winning the return match over the Ukrainians 1-0, Rennes and Fener met in the penultimate round knowing they both already possessed. Once more, the Turks came from behind, as 82nd and 88th minute goals helped Fenerbahçe earn a 3-3 draw after going down 3-0. AEK held Rennes to a 1-1 draw in the last game. As a result, Bruno Génésio’s team finished second.  

Next up for Rennes will be a meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk in the knockout playoffs. A 1-0 defeat to the Pitmen back in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup remains the two’s only meeting in Europe. Les Rouge et Noir would go on to finish bottom of that group, as they lost all four games. 

On the positive side, three wins and three draws, plus their second-place finish brought in 11.000 coefficient points for Rennes, taking them now to 44.000 points over the five-year stretch, good for 36th. 

 

Ligue 1 in the Europa Conference League  

OGC Nice 

France’s third team to ever take part in the Europa Conference League is Nice, who entered at the playoff round. Losing the away leg 1-0, Les Aiglons topped their Israeli opponents Maccabi Tel Aviv in extra time, getting their winner midway through the second extra period. 

Taking on Partizan Belgrade, FC Köln and Slovacko, Nice was stuck in the group of death. None of the four teams won more than two games in this tight section. Starting off with 1-1 stalemates with Köln then Partizan, Lucien Favre’s Nice would split their double confrontation with Slovacko, winning 1-0 then falling 2-1. In what was their most crucial result, they pulled off a 2-1 success over Partizan. Despite throwing away a two-goal lead at Köln in the last game, the 2-2 draw in Germany was enough to give Les Aiglons top spot. Remarkably, Nice is the only French side to have won their group this fall.

Nice will return to European football in March, with their round of 16 opponent to be confirmed. In the meantime, they can focus on domestic action. As for coefficients, they have won 9.000 so far on the year, taking their five-year total to 12.000.  

 

French coefficients in 2022/23 

The six Ligue 1 clubs combined for a record of 18-10-12 in Europe thus far. Each team won at least twice in the group stage. The only other country that can say the same is England.

Looking at things from a coefficient standpoint, France has collected 10.916 points this season, fifth best among the 54 national associations that had European representation. The other members of the ‘Big 5’ leagues are above them in this respect. This will become more prevalent as of next season, where the two countries with the best one-year ranking earns an extra Champions League spot for the 2024/25 edition. 

More importantly, France also holds on to fifth spot in the current five-year country coefficient ranking, totalling at 59.497. While they cannot go higher than fifth this campaign, Netherlands can still realistically overtake the French for fifth. Sitting 2.794 points behind in sixth, the Dutch is looking to outscore France for the third season running.  

This is a crucial year of football for the five-year coefficient ranking as the table at season’s end will be used to determine the number of places available for each country in the 2024/25 UEFA club competitions, the first season under a new format. Finishing fifth will afford seven European spots, one more than what France has now. That would result in three automatic Champions League berths plus one in qualifying. Sixth place continues to give six European places in total, with just two guaranteed UCL spots.  

France is still in good position to hold on to fifth as things stand. However, a good showing from PSG, Nantes, Monaco, Rennes and Nice in the knockout stages will be required in order to hold off Netherlands for fifth.