Sporting started this week our participation in the second edition of The Next Gen Series tournament a.k.a. the European Champions League at Under 19 level.
The first edition of the tournament was a success and Sporting's participation was brilliant. We were the best team in the group stage and only fell in the semis at the hands of the tournament winners Inter Milan. This year the NGS was enlarged from 16 to 24 clubs and some more heavyweights of European football joined the elite of the continent's youth football, such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Paris SG or Juventus.
We are the only Portuguese club invited to participate in a tournament that will be played between now and 15 January 2013. The 24 sides were divided in 6 groups of 4 from where the top 2 sides of each group will advance to the knockout stages together with the four best 3rd placed teams.
We are part of Group 4 with the likes of Aston Villa (ENG), Celtic Glasgow (SCO) and PSV Eindhoven (HOL).
Just like last year, we've started in style going to England and winning. We beat Aston Villa at Villa Park 3-1 with goals by Edilino Ié at 32', Carlos Mané at 39' and Tobias Figueiredo at 63'. A great start by Abel's pupils confirming the prestige earned by the club in England after last year's double destruction of Liverpool.
Sporting's line-up was as follows:
Mauro Riquicho - Tobias Figueiredo - Rúben Semedo - Michael Pinto
Carlos Mané - Wallyson Malann
Alexandre Guedes - Farley Rosa - Iuri Medeiros
Our coming match will be on 6 September in Glasgow against Celtic.