This strangest of seasons has yielded a Champions League semi-final line-up of a kind not seen since 1991.
RB Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Bayern Munich will compete for a spot in the final. Two from France, two from Germany, with the prospect of a one-nation showdown for the trophy.
This is the first time in 29 years that no teams from England, Spain or Italy have reached this stage of the competition, which at that time was still called the European Cup.
The world looked very different back then, for our four semi-finalists and beyond…
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 16, 2020
They didn’t exist in 1991. In fact, they wouldn’t for another 18 years.
The club’s owners, Red Bull, had only existed as a business for seven years and the drink that made the brand globally famous was only four years old – the same age as present Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann.
SSV Markranstadt, the team Red Bull purchased before transforming them into the RB Leipzig franchise, were down in the Landesliga Sachsen, the sixth tier in Germany.
It’s hard now to think of PSG, winners of seven of the past eight Ligue 1 titles, as anything other than dominant in France.
Back in 1991, some 20 years before the QSI ownership, they finished ninth in France’s top flight, 17 points behind champions and bitter rivals Marseille. They won no trophies and were not involved in Europe.
Head coach Henri Michel was in charge until July, when he was replaced by Artur Jorge, who delivered their second top-flight title in 1994. Present boss Thomas Tuchel was learning his craft in the youth teams of Augsburg.
Bayern were one of the four semi-finalists in 1991, but it didn’t end well: they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Red Star Belgrade after captain Klaus Augenthaler scored a 90th-minute own goal in the second leg.
Domestically, Bayern lost out on the Bundesliga title, finishing second to Kaiserslautern. To compound a disappointing season, they also suffered a first-round exit in the DFB-Pokal for the first time in their history.
Their head coach, Jupp Heynckes, was of course the man who steered them to their most recent European triumph in 2012-13, when they beat Borussia Dortmund in the final at Wembley to secure the treble. As for current boss Hansi Flick, he was in his first season playing for Cologne.
Lyon had a better domestic season than PSG, finishing fifth in the table under Raymond Domenech to qualify for the UEFA Cup.
It was just four years into the tenure of ambitious young owner Jean-Michel Aulas, who had vowed to rid the club of debt and restore them to a place of prominence in the top flight.
Rudi Garcia, who masterminded that 3-1 win over City this year, was playing his final season with Caen.
ELSEWHERE IN FOOTBALL…
Red Star won the European Cup final, beating Marseille on penalties after a 0-0 draw in Bari.
Arsenal were crowned champions of England, an Alan Smith hat-trick against Manchester United securing the title in May.
Napoli and Argentina great Diego Maradona was serving a 15-month ban for failing a cocaine test.
Sampdoria were Serie A champions. It was their first and only top-flight title.
In January, Eden Hazard was born.
USA win the first Women’s World Cup, beating Norway in the final.
Ryan Giggs made his Manchester United debut in March. Twenty-three years later, he retired as their most decorated player.
AND THE WIDER WORLD…
Boris Yeltsin was elected Russia’s first popularly-elected president. The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist.
The internet was made available to unrestricted commercial use. An intriguing tool, the web browser, was introduced.
Nirvana released their second studio album, Nevermind. It has sold more than 30million copies.
Mike Powell broke Bob Beamon’s world long jump record with a leap of 8.95 metres. The record still stands.
Monica Seles won three of four grand slam singles titles to take the world number one spot from Steffi Graf.
Australia won the Rugby World Cup, beating England 12-6 at Twickenham in the final.
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