The new UEFA Youth League gets under way on Tuesday with Filippo Inzaghi and Patrick Vieira among the famous former faces coaching the next generation of European talent.
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A new era will start on Tuesday morning when the first ever game in the UEFA Youth League gets under way between FC Viktoria Plzeň and Manchester City FC.
It is UEFA's first full competition for youth clubs with the Under-19 teams of the 32 UEFA Champions League participants squaring off in an autumn programme that mirrors the senior sides' group stage campaigns. The UEFA Champions League is full of memorable stories of teenagers thrusting themselves into the consciousness of football fans worldwide with a dazzling display – the likes of Raúl González, Wayne Rooney and Andriy Shevchenko – and the UEFA Youth League gives those players a new international platform to make their own strides towards the highest level of club football.
Old to new
The players may be relatively unknown – for the time being – but the competition has already received its own sprinkling of star dust with many of the youth teams being coached by heroes of UEFA Champions League seasons gone by. Manchester City will be led out at the Plzen training ground by Patrick Vieira, the midfielder that enjoyed such a stellar career with Arsenal FC, as well as stints in Italy with AC Milan, Juventus and FC Internazionale Milano.
Meanwhile, a 15.00CET kick-off on Wednesday at the Stadio Ernesto Breda awaits Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi – the seventh highest scorer in European Cup history – in his team's game with Celtic FC. Then there is Nicky Butt, who is taking charge of Manchester United FC's youngsters. The former midfielder's team will play Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Tuesday's live televised game on Eurosport of which there will be one every matchweek.
UEFA.com will have highlights of that match, as well as a daily round-up with coach reaction from a selection of the games. For the first matchday UEFA.com will also have a video feature from the first ever game in the competition, Plzeň v City, and further reaction from the FC Bayern München v PFC CSKA Moskva tie.
With games mainly taking place in the afternoon before the senior clubs' UEFA Champions League fixtures, both visiting and home fans will be able to enjoy a bonus match ahead of the evening event – and they may also get to see future first-team regulars up close and the in flesh right at the start of their careers.