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CSKA and Bayern see Youth League benefits

Two goals separated them, but PFC CSKA Moskva and FC Bayern München were united in praise for the UEFA Youth League and its benefits for player development.

CSKA and Bayern see Youth League benefits
CSKA and Bayern see Youth League benefits ©UEFA.com

After PFC CSKA Moskva got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over FC Bayern München in the inaugural UEFA Youth League on Tuesday, both coaches were quick to laud the advantages of UEFA's newest competition.

"The benefits here aren't just for CSKA, but for all clubs," said CSKA's Aleksandr Grishin after an efficient performance from his young charges at the Sportpark Heimstetten on the outskirts of Munich. "The boys enter the international arena and play against the strongest teams in the world."

The UEFA Youth League is structured to mirror the UEFA Champions League fixtures, meaning both CSKA and Bayern will also face the Under-19 sides of Manchester City FC and FC Viktoria Plzeň in Group D.

"Playing against teams from other nations with different styles is great experience for our players," said Bayern trainer Marc Kienle. "It's good to see how other teams are playing around the continent. CSKA were a very mature outfit and hopefully our players will have learned something from them."

Goals from Alexey Kurzenev and Viktor Borzykh took CSKA joint top of the early standings along with Manchester City, who beat Plzeň 4-1 earlier in the day. Yet the result was of secondary importance for Grishin.

"We haven't set any objectives," he explained. "Our aim is for our guys to measure themselves against the best players in Europe so that we can compare ourselves with other clubs – where we excel, where we're lagging behind – and to assess ourselves."

Kienle added that "the stage is quite different to what we're used to for normal home games". Several of his charges have experience of playing for their national age-group teams, yet there was "something special about playing in the UEFA Youth League".

In spite of the defeat, home fans were treated to some first-class football with Bayern's midfield at times passing the ball around in a manner normally associated with the senior team – the reigning European champions, no less.

Of course the hope is that the UEFA Youth League affords the next generation the experience to one day go on and shine in Europe and, in Munich, the production line looks to be functioning well. In the 55th minute a certain Lucas-Junior Scholl was brought on in attacking midfield, son of Mehmet Scholl, a UEFA Champions League winner with Bayern in 2001.