Barcelona won the UEFA Youth League for a second time, making light work of Chelsea in the final.
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Winners of the inaugural edition five years previously, Barcelona took their second title following an enthralling finals weekend at Colovray Stadium, concluding a tournament in which 43 different countries were represented – three more than the 2016/17 last season.
Famed for their attacking flair, Francisco García Pimienta's side nonetheless conceded just one goal en route to the final four, impressively eliminating Paris and Atlético Madrid in the knockout stages without conceding.
If those wins were straightforward, their semi-final against Manchester City in Nyon was anything but. Carles Pérez and Alex Collado twice gave Barça the lead, with Joel Latibeaudiere and Lukas Nmecha restoring parity on each occasion. A wonderful Ricard Puig free-kick put the Catalan side 3-2 up and two further goals in two minutes just before half-time from Pérez and Alejandro Marqués – after City had been reduced to ten men – appeared to have put the tie to bed.
However, the Citizens roared back as substitute Rabbi Matondo fired in from distance before Nmecha's second of the gave five minutes from time ensured a nervy ending, though there was to be no fairytale comeback for Simon Davies' team.
In the other semi-final, two-time champions Chelsea saw off finals debutants Porto on penalties after a rollercoaster game. The Portuguese side came from behind to take the lead with just over ten minutes remaining, only for Chelsea captain Joshua Grant to make it 2-2, before goalkeeper Jamie Cumming made three shoot-out saves to send the English side through.
The final was less complicated, as Barcelona dominated Chelsea from the off. A Marqués strike in each half – meaning he had scored in the quarters, semi and final of the competition – were followed by a late Abel Ruiz effort to complete a 3-0 win. Title success was a belated birthday present for Collado, who turned 19 the day before the decider.
Success in the UEFA Youth League is not defined purely in terms of medals, though. In the context of a tournament designed to help bridge the gap between youth and senior teams, it was encouraging that nine players featured in both the UEFA Youth League and the UEFA Champions League (group stage to final) in 2017/18.*
Manchester City's Phil Foden and Brahim Díaz ended up being ineligible for the UEFA Youth League semi-finals, having already taken part in three UEFA Champions League games. Porto's Diogo Dalot made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 0-0 round of 16 draw with Liverpool, while Chelsea's Ethan Ampadu – who made his UEFA Youth League debut in September, two days before his 17th birthday – made his senior Wales debut in November and his Premier League bow the following month.
*Players who played in the 2017/18 UEFA Youth League and UEFA Champions League (group stage to final)
Fabrizio Caligara (Juventus)
Diogo Dalot (Porto)
Brahim Díaz (Manchester City)
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Alexander Isak (Dortmund)
Khetag Khosonov (CSKA Moskva)
Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord)
Kazaiah Sterling (Tottenham Hotspur)
Dylan Vente (Feyenoord)