Just across the bridge from where Pep’s men are to play out their Premier League season, the young Blues got their own campaign under way against the physically imposing West Brom.
The Baggies started in the ascendancy and reaped the rewards within the first ten minutes as attacking midfielder Rakeem Harper got behind the City defence and fired home with a left footed drive. They followed that up with a drilled strike from 20 yards brought the best out of City goalkeeper Aro Muric, diving low to his left.
It was just inside the half hour mark that the Blues had their first serious chance. Jadon Sancho stepped inside from his position on the left wing, collected the ball on his right foot and curled an early goal of the season contender inside West Brom goalkeeper Brad House’s far post.
The Blues continued to improve in terms of composure on the ball throughout the first half but were reduced to a deflected long range strike from sitting midfielder Colin Rosler.
If the first half was notable for its fluency, the second half was a scrappier affair. City spent much of the period working hard to turn their dominance of the ball into opportunities but the resolute West Brom defence refused to falter.
With 20 minutes to go, Phil Foden found a pocket of space and needed no second invitation to drive into it. The 16-year-old then attempted to slide in Luke Bolton but yet again a last-ditch block left the Blues frustrated.
Foraging runs from Luke Bolton, Jadon Sancho and substitute Myles Beerman all threatened the West Brom goal but to no avail.
What it means...
The Blues begin the defence of their U18 Premier League title with a draw but there are plenty of positives for Lee Carsley’s side to take after several players making their first step-up to this level grew stronger throughout the game.
After West Brom had dominated possession and found the early goal, it was up to goalkeeper Aro Muric to make a strong left handed save to keep the Blues in the game. Muric got his tall, strong frame down quickly to keep out the strike of Marcuss Forss.
It seemed to be just the lift City needed as the Blues found their rhythm and started to dictate the pace of the game to the travelling Baggies.
Man of the match...
Jadon Sancho – A determined and physical West Brom defence may have denied City the win but it wasn’t for lack of trying on Sancho’s part.
After a first half strike to be proud of, Sancho, working with Tyreke Wilson down the left, looked to go on the inside and outside of West Brom right-back Dan Meredith but was denied a winner on several occasions by heroic defending.
What they said...
Sancho: "We played well, it was a hard game. We could have done better if we had finished our chances though.
"I'm happy with my goal. As I came inside I just thought to let it go and hope for the best and I'm proud it went in."
How they lined up...
In terms of formation the sides matched up in flexible 4-3-3 shapes.
Aro Muric was City’s man between the sticks. Joel Latibeaudiere captained the side from right-back and was the experienced head in a defence featuring Joe Coveney, Ed Francis and Tyreke Wilson.
Colin Rosler played the sitting role behind Phil Foden and Matt Smith, who was replaced by Iker Pozo towards the end of the first half after receiving treatment, whereas Luke Bolton and Jadon Sancho flanked striker Joe Hardy.
West Brom XI: House, Meredith, Artymatas, Piggott, Welbourne, Wilding, Dool, Harper, Bradley, Morrison, Forss