The 32 clubs who feature in this season's UEFA Champions League will have the chance to test their young players in the UEFA Youth League after last night's final five qualifiers confirmed the lineup for the inaugural edition of the Under-19 club competition.
The UEFA Youth League will give the talents of tomorrow an opportunity to gain international experience at club level, with UEFA long having organised successful youth tournaments for international teams.
UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino expects the competition to play a major role in the development of the participants. "One of the key objectives of the UEFA Youth League, especially for the clubs and for us as competition organisers, is to help players get additional experience which will help them to bridge the gap to their first team," he said.
"It is an objective of UEFA and of European football to form and train players, so this competition is also focusing on locally trained players, on club academies, on the development of players."
The group stage of the UEFA Youth League will parallel that of the UEFA Champions League before a 'Road to the Final' concept comes into play for the knockout phase.
The draws for all the knockout rounds – all of which are single matches rather than being played over two legs – will take place in December, and will work like this:
Round of 16
Group winners v group runners-up
Group winners play at home
Home team determined by draw
Semi-finals and final (Colovray Stadium, Nyon)
The winners of the two semi-finals, to be played on Friday 11 April, opposite UEFA's Swiss headquarters, will meet in the final on Monday 14 April for the right to become the first winners of the Lennart Johansson Trophy, named after UEFA's honorary president.
Note: All knockout ties will go straight to penalties at full time (no extra time).
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