Meet the UEFA Youth League semi-finalists: Sporting CP vs AZ Alkmaar, Hajduk Split vs AC Milan
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Four teams will compete to be the seventh different champions in nine seasons in Geneva on 21 and 24 April.
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New winners of the UEFA Youth League are guaranteed on 24 April with all four semi-finalists that stage for the first time.
The finals will take place at Stade de Genève rather than the usual base of Colovray Sports Centre, Nyon, due to the extraordinary interest of participating clubs' supporters for the tournament, subsequently leading to a need for a venue with increased operational capacities.
In the semis on 21 April, Sporting CP take on AZ Alkmaar then Hajduk Split face AC Milan. Not only are all four teams making their debut at this stage, but Sporting are the only one to come from a nation who have had a team reach the final; Benfica lost in 2013/14, 2016/17 and 2019/20 before taking the title last season, and Porto lifted the trophy in 2018/19.
Also for the first time, two sides have made the same finals from the domestic champions path, AZ and Hajduk. The three clubs to previously come through that route to the semis were Anderlecht in 2015/16, eventual champions Salzburg in 2016/17 and Chelsea in 2018/19.
We profile the four teams going for glory to try become the seventh different winners in the nine competition seasons, joining a roll of honour that besides Benfica and Porto includes Barcelona (2013/14 and 2017/18), Chelsea (2014/15 and 2015/16), Salzburg (2016/17) and Real Madrid (2019/20).
UEFA Youth League finals schedule
Friday 21 April: Semi-finals
Sporting CP vs AZ Alkmaar: 13:00 CET
Hajduk Split vs AC Milan: 18:00 CET
Monday 24 April: Final
Sporting CP / AZ Alkmaar vs Hajduk Split / AC Milan: 18:00 CET
Group stage: Group D winners (D1-1a vs Eintracht Frankfurt, W2-0h vs Tottenham Hotspur, W6-0a vs Marseille, D1-1h vs Marseille, W2-1a vs Tottenham Hotspur, W1-0h vs Eintracht Frankfurt)
Round of 16: W5-1h vs Ajax
Quarter-finals: W1-0h vs Liverpool
Top scorer: Rodrigo Ribeiro 6
Previous best: Quarter-finals (2021/22)
- A year after reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, have gone a step further and will hope to be the third Portuguese winners after Porto (2019) and Benfica (2022).
Domestic champions path round 1: W6-1agg vs Shamrock Rovers (W5-0h, D1-1a)
Domestic champions path round 2: W3-3agg, 4-3pens vs Crvena zvezda (D2-2h, D1-1a)
Play-offs: W5-0h vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Round of 16: W3-0a vs Barcelona
Quarter-finals: W4-0h vs Real Madrid
Top scorer: Mexx Meerdink 7
Previous best: Round of 16 (2021/22)
- AZ have equalled the Netherlands' best-ever run, Ajax in 2019/20. No team had previously got to the finals by scoring 12 unanswered goals in three wins.
Domestic champions path round 1: W5-1agg vs Gabala (W3-0h, W2-1a)
Domestic champions path round 2: W6-1agg vs Apolonia (W3-0a, W3-1h)
Play-offs: W1-0h vs Shakhtar Donetsk
Round of 16: W2-1h vs Manchester City
Quarter-finals: W1-1, 9-8pens a vs Borussia Dortmund
Top scorer: Jere Vrcić 4
Previous best: Play-offs (2021/22)
- The first Croatian side to reach the semis, and the first from their nation to make the last four of any UEFA football club competition since Hajduk's seniors (representing Yugoslavia) in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup.
Group stage: Group E winners (D1-1a vs Salzburg, W3-0h vs Dinamo Zagreb, D1-1a vs Chelsea, W3-1h vs Chelsea, W2-1a vs Dinamo Zagreb, W2-1h vs Salzburg)
Round of 16: W1-0h vs Ruh Lviv
Quarter-finals: W2-0h vs Atlético
Top scorer: Gabriele Alesi 4
Previous best: Round of 16 (2013/14)
- Having made the knockout stage for the first time since the inaugural 2013/14 edition now hope to go a step further than previous Italian semi-finalists Roma (2014/15) and Juventus (2021/22).