HITC will be bringing extensive coverage of the European youth team competition as 7 British sides aim for glory.
For those unfamiliar with the NextGen series it is basically the Champions League of youth football. Various clubs from around the continent assemble in group to knockout stage competition to decide who has the current best youth team in the European game.
Last season was a big success for the tournament devised by Justin Andrews and Mark Warburton as 16 teams battled it out throughout the season until eventually Inter Milan were crowned the inaugural champions beating Ajax in the final at Brisbane Road, the home of Leyton Orient.
So with the sophomore edition getting underway last night what can we expect this time around, who is in it and what happened in the opening round of fixtures.
Firstly there has been one major change in that, owing to its success, the NextGen series has increased its club capacity with 24 clubs, not 16, now competing for the prize. 15 of the 16 teams from last season remain, with FC Basel declining the invitation to take part, and have been joined by 9 new teams; Arsenal, Chelsea, PSG, Anderlecht, CSKA Moscow, Athletic Bilbao, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Olympiakos. The other 15 teams are Aston Villa, Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham, Wolfsburg, Marseille, Ajax, PSV, Molde, Rosenborg, Sporting Lisbon, Celtic, Barcelona, Fenerbahce and reigning champions Inter Milan.
British clubs make up the majority of the field this time around with 6 of the 24 teams hailing from the Premier League whilst Celtic are the Scottish representative.
At HITC Sport we are always keeping an eye out for young stars and the NextGen will be no different, so, over the next season we will be bringing you the players to watch out for, match reports, video’s and reviews on how the British clubs are getting on as well as the stars of the future on show.
Last season saw Liverpool, Spurs and Aston Villa all advance from their groups; Spurs were especially impressive defeating PSV 4-1 and thrashing eventual winners Inter 7-1 before leaving the competition after fielding ineligible players. Liverpool took their place and went on to finish third so English clubs carry high hopes into the 2012-13 edition.
The English teams have a real chance of success but face tough draws in the group stages; Spurs must face off with Barca; Man City have PSG and Juve in a tough Group 2; Chelsea face the infamous Jong Ajax; Celtic and Villa are draw in the same group alongside Sporting and PSV; Liverpool must play reigning champions Inter and Arsenal will have to conquer the famed Athletic Bilbao cantera and last season’s 4th placed Marseille.
Wednesday night saw Aston Villa downed by the hotly tipped Sporting Lisbon; whilst Barcelona’s young superstars struggled to a 1-1 draw with Belgian new kids on the block Anderlecht and CSKA Moscow kicked off their debut campaign with a 2-1 victory over Norwegian side Molde.
The next game in the competition is to be played next Wednesday as Tottenham travel to Germany to face off with Wolfsburg aiming to make amends for an unmerited exit last season and before then HITC will bring you previews of the North London clubs chances ahead of a promising campaign.
Here is the promotional video for this season's NextGen series ...
Watch this space for continued coverage of the NextGen Series...
image: © batrax