Liverpool NextGen Series 2011-12 review
The NextGen series, Europe’s club competition for youngsters (u-19`s) started and finished off with a bang. The aim of the tournament was to give young players a chance to play against other European clubs and give them a sneak peak of how they might have to adapt to different regions and environment. The series was a success in many ways. Many teams got the chance to showcase their youngsters in the world market and also the young players got the chance that very few current players enjoyed in their younger days i.e. playing abroad against top quality teams. The matches were not braodcasted on TV except in some European countries but there were plenty of other sources to watch the matches. Overall the competition was a success and lets take a small look at how Liverpool have performed in this tournament.
Format & Rules
The first season had only 16 teams and they were chosen by organizers based on the progress their Academy’s had made. Team participating in the NextGen series had a maximum squad size of no more than eighteen members. With the age limit being 18 years.
Liverpool were drawn in group two alongside Sporting CP, Wolfsburg and Molde FC. In the first match itself, Liverpool were shown how hard the series could be as they were beaten 3-0 at Anfield by Sporting. But the reds qucikly overcame their initial loss with a thumping 4-0 win against Molde away in Norway. In the next match Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Wolfsburg while Wolfsburg won the reverse fixture at their home turf. Liverpool’s second win came against Molde at Anfield but were destroyed again by Sporting CP led by their play maker Joao Carlos Teixeira. After six matches Liverpool had won just two, drawing one and losing the rest of their three games. Sporting topped the group with five wins and one draw and other teams were not as impressive as they could have been, allowing Liverpool to finish second in the group and proceed to the knockout stages.
Knock Out stages
Liverpool were drawn against English rivals Totenham Hotspurs in the QF stage. The match was dominated by Liverpool but Spurs ended the game with a vital 1-0 win. The celebrations at white hart lane were short lived as they found that they had breached the rules by fielding two under age players making them ineligible to play further in the series and they promptly withdrew thus allowing Liverpool to play in the semifinals. Liverpool faced Ajax in the semifinals. Ajax had previously won against Barcelona, a team that was the favorite to win the tournament. Ajax proved once again why they had a top academy side by beating Liverpool 6-0. Ajax faced Inter in the finals and lost via penalties thus handing Inter the title of being the first NextGen Champions. Liverpool beat Marseille 2-0 to get the 3rd spot.
As always our idea is to play in the right way and trying to win every game in the same style. The NextGen Series has been a great experience for the lads. We have a young squad and we have played against strong and experienced teams. They have a learned a lot for the future. – Liverpool Coach Borrell
Liverpool`s top scorers
Toni Silva -3
Adam Morgan -2
Key points from series
# Players like Morgan and Sterling played extremely well. Sterling was man marked by 2 -3 players in most matches. That itself shows how skillful with the ball he is.
# Liverpool signed Teixeira from Sporting CP. Liverpool are keeping tabs on some other young players as well.
# Suse, Silva, Wisdom and Coady all played a major role in Liverpool’s run to the semis and if they continue their progress this way the future is bright for Anfield.