The NextGen Series, Europe’s current premier youth competition, gets back under way today with Aston Villa ready to take on the mighty Ajax at De Toekomst in Holland.
Ajax play at home and are the seeded team ahead of the fixture due to finishing with more points than Aston Villa in the Group Stage but technically both teams finished as runners-up in their respective groups so Aston Villa should not be too fearful of the Dutch side, who were billed as favourites before the competition started.
With good reason as well as with the likes of Davy Klaasen and Viktor Fischer in their team they would be unbeatable; however their success has seen them promoted to the first team and no longer considered for the NextGen Series.
That does not mean that Ajax do not have plenty left to hurt you with and Aston Villa will still need to be wary of their star players.
For Villa it is their first NextGen action since November and if they can source some of their form from that away encounter than no matter how good Jong Ajax are they will struggle with Villa’s attacking prowess; they beat Sporting Lisbon 5-1 at the Alvalade Stadium in their final Group Stage fixture.
It is not the first time they have travelled to Holland in the competition as they went to Eindhoven in the Group Stage but were beaten by PSV in a drab 1-0 effort; they will hope for better on their latest trip to The Netherlands.
Villa can take heart from the fact that currently Jong PSV sit top of their youth league table in Ajax while the youngsters they will take on today are currently second in their respected pool behind the youth side of unbeaten Heerenveen.
For Villa there is little doubt who the danger man is as Mikey Drennan will look to continue his fine scoring form in this year’s competition.
If Villa can replicate their away form against Sporting there is little doubt they can pull off an upset in Amsterdam.
Here are some Tweets from excited Villa players…
In the airport waiting to go to play Ajax in the nextgen!— mikey drennan (@mikeydrennan) February 18, 2013
Travelling to holland tomorrow with the 19s to play ajax in the next gen!!— daniel crowley (@dannycrowley97) February 17, 2013
Arrived in Amsterdam in a room with Alfie Baller crooks little snack then training— Lewis Kinsella (@Lewis_kinsella) February 18, 2013
image: © ellbrown