Some of you may remember the Juvenil A team competing in Europe this year in the inaugural NextGen Series and today was the draw for next season’s group stage. The NextGen Series is virtually a Champions League for under-19 players and despite crashing out at the quarter-final stage, Barcelona were impressive and Jean-Marie Dongou finished as joint top-scorer with Danish prodigy Viktor Fischer. This season’s group stage was by and large a procession for the La Masia kids as Marseille, Manchester City and Celtic were all beaten at least once as the Blaugrana topped their group with 15 points. Hopefully this year’s will be the same and Barca can go a little further as well. Full details of the draw are after the jump, along with a little info on our opponents.
Spurs may have missed out on the Champions League this season, but were one of the better teams in this season’s NextGen Series, topping the group that included eventual winners Inter Milan. In fact, Spurs beat the eventual champions 7-1 in their second group game, but voluntarily withdrew after breaching competition rules. Can we say for sure that Tottenham would have won the tournament? Of course not, but they were one of the favourites that’s for sure. With a team including former Barca youth teamer Cristian Ceballos, "the new Didier Drogba" Souleymane Coulibaly and Serbian defender Milos Veljkovic they will again be amongst the favourites. I can’t wait to see how Dongou, Samper, Grimaldo et al shape up against the Londoners.
Wolfsburg may not be the most famous German club, but they boast a fine youth academy and will be looking to improve upon their experiences from last time out. In last season’s competition they were drawn into group two with Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon and Molde, failing to reach the knockout stages thanks to their inability to turn draws into wins. That being said, they have experience on their side and with guys like Germany under-19 international Murat Bildirici and under-18 international Maximillian Arnold in their ranks, they could pose a threat.
Olympiacos are newcomers to the tournament making them somewhat of an unknown quantity. With the senior side fresh off a domestic double, the Greeks are technically the most successful side in this group (based on the last few months anyway) but one suspects that they are here to make up the numbers and gain some experience. Midfielder Kostas Rougalas and striker Dimitrios Diamantakos are both regulars for the Greek under-19 side who currently top their qualifying group, but the majority of that squad is composed from the likes of Panathinaikos.
And the rest of the draw (La Liga teams in CAPS):
Group Two: Manchester City, Juventus, Paris St. Germain, Fenerbahce
Group Three: Chelsea, Ajax, CSKA Moscow, Molde
Group Four: Arsenal, ATHLETIC BILBAO, Marseille, Anderlecht
Group Five: Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Rosenborg
Group Six: Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven, Celtic, Aston Villa