In Group C, Real Madrid are more than likely to go through as table toppers given the quality in their side. It means 4 teams will battle it out for two spots, only one of which is automatic qualification. On paper it would seem that it is down to Villa and PSG to take those 2 spots, however Malaga and Standard Liege could do some damage too. It shall be interesting to see how this group goes.
Tolisso (88)- Canga (82)- Romagnoli (88)- Olaza (82)
Hojbjerg (86)- Tibbling (85)- Milinkovic-Savic (87)
Embolo (86)- Rashford (83)- Iheanacho (83)
Star player: Corentin Tolisso
Alternate options: Tudor (82), Tejero (78), Guedes (78), Grgic (78), Diallo (78), Fosu-Mensah (78), Ros (77), Manojlovic (77), Fletcher (76), Fernandez (76), Tarin (76), Reguilon (76), Gelson (76), Weir (75), Scholl (75), Benko (75), Lirola (75), Llamas (75), Morselli (70)
One of the best youth teams in the draw, Madrid have a solid defence, headlines by the versatile Tolisso and the talented Romagnoli, a strong midfield with the complementary skills of Hojbjerg, Tibbling and Milinkovic-Savic and the fast and strong attack of Embolo, Rashford and Iheanacho. With no clear weak links in this side, sides will have to play out of their skin in order to get points out of this Madrid side. I expect Madrid to wrap up qualification with at least 2 game to go, and they will be hoping to challenge the favourites Juventus and city rivals Atletico for the honours this time round.
Hadergjonaj (83)- Hodorogea (82)- Garcia (80)- Walter (84)
Gutierrez (83)- Selnaes (83)- Lopez (83)
Tanase (83)- Ristic (82)
Star player: Florin Tanase
Alternate options: Zeneli (82), Boateng (80), Formella (80), Regasel (80), Torreira (78), Turnbull (78), Estupinan (76), Tymon (75), Peric (75), Green (70), Fandi (60)
Villa have a well balanced team, with no real attacking superstars, but with quality all round the park. They’ve gotten an easier group than last season and should be the favourites for getting 2nd place in the group. However they must be wary of the other teams and the danger they pose.
Abdat (75)- Ricca (83)- Kimpembe (80)
Grujic (84)- Ntcham (80)
Habran (80)- Augustin (80)- Ongenda (80)
Star player: Adrien Rabiot
Alternate options: Rony Lopes (84) (on loan at Twente), Rossiter (77), D’Almeida (75), Fosu-Henry (70)
For PSG’s status as a D1 side, their youth side is heavily imbalanced. Their lack of a right-back means that they will be forced to play with 3 at the back unless they choose to play players out of position (that being said they only have 3 defenders). The only formation that will allow them to play players without being penalised for players out of position is a 3-1-3-3, which in itself is imbalanced. That being said their strength is in midfield where they have the likes of Bazoer, Grujic and Rabiot. I suspect the manager has forgotten Marquinhos is no longer available as a right-sided defender; however given his side’s bye in the first round PSG may find the time to add more balance to the side. It is tough to predict where PSG will end up as with some additions to the side they could easily finish 2nd, however with the current side I see them struggling. They also have Rony Lopes out on loan who could add a dimension to their attack.
Kakabadze (77)- Gogoua (78)- Diarra (75)- Matarrita (78)
Aburjania (78)- Tsintsadze (76)
Horta (85)- Papunashvili (80)- Zahid (80)
Star player: Ricardo Horta
Alternate options: Simsek (80), Edu (78), Zhemaletdinov (77), Labidi (76), Pereira de Sa (75), Abang (75), Rahmani (75), Roussos (75), Pascual (75), Latour (74), Mauzun (73), Polat (73)
Malaga are headlined by Ricardo Horta and will need him to lift up the team and get them some points. They should be able to challenge for 3rd place in the minimum. Horta is their main star and so if he clicks Malaga should be able to get some points.
Yao (82)- Vanlerberghe (78)- Fiore (80)
Colombatto (73)- Marquet (80)- Gerkens (82)- Field (70)
Milosevic (78)- Diallo (76)
Star player: Eloge Yao
Alternate options: Dewaele (76)
Standard Liege are a poor man’s version of PSG’s youth side, without the 80-rated players. While they do have quality, I don’t see how they will play a side with all players playing not out of position (excuse the use of the double negative). Without any additions I can see Liege struggling through the Cup, and the fans must hope the tactically astute James Foster will put up his socks and get some players in to bolster the youth side.
Good luck to all the five teams in this group and to the rest of the teams competing in the Youth Cup!
PS- Put some effort into doing this piece so hope it gets some appreciation 🙂