NextGen Series preview
- Thu 23 Aug 2012, 11:38AM
- Posted by Mark Booth
The “Champions League of youth football” is back and bigger than ever in 2012/13.
The Blues will be hoping that the experience of last season where they took on Barcelona, OM and Celtic will stand them in good stead for their second campaign which kicks off at Hyde FC on Thursday against PSG.
One of the challenges of youth development in football is in replicating the first team experience to hand vital experience to footballers looking to forge successful careers in the game.
With that in mind, the NextGen Series is seen as an important new competition that provides experience of continental football at the under-19 level, helping to bridge the gap between the academy and the first-team.
“This competition is a great chance for our Under-19 players to pick their wits against some of Europe’s top clubs and I’m hoping that we’ll fare well in that,” said Mark Allen, City’s Head of Academy.
Most importantly, it’s international experience in the development of these players and while anything can happen on the night and we have a very young squad again, we think the experience of last year's tournament can only aid us this time around.
City have been drawn in Group 2 of the competition alongside PSG, Fenerbache and Juventus, an exciting draw that should see crowds flocking to Hyde FC to see Attilio Lombardo’s stars of tomorrow.
Inter Milan won the NextGen Series in its first year, overcoming Ajax in the final on penalties, while City went out in the group stage in a tough first season in the tournament.
A year older and wiser, City’s EDS squad will be made up of “veterans” of last year’s campaign like Denis Suarez, Karim Rekik and Jordy Hiwula, second year scholars such as George Swan, George Glendon and Sadiq El-Fitouri as well as exciting first year scholars like Jose Angel Pozo, James Hardy and Ashley Smith-Brown.
An expansion from 16 teams to 24 teams will make competition fiercer than ever, with City joined by Aston Villa, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea as English representatives.
The 24 teams are arranged into six groups of four, playing each other home and away with qualification guaranteed for the teams finishing first and second in their groups, while there will also be room for the four best-performing third-place teams in the knockout stages.
Knockout matches will be on a one-off basis, with each winner progressing to the next round culminating in the final and third/fourth place play-off.
City beat Middlesbrough 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium in their first home Barclays Under 21 match last Friday.
Manchester City will play Paris St. Germain in the NextGen Series on Thursday 30 Aug 2012 at Ewen Fields in Hyde.
Tickets for the 7pm kick-off are on general sale from the stadium ticket office only.
Standing tickets are available priced at £3 Adults, £1 Concessions.