Manchester City are on their way to Austria to face Salzburg in the UEFA Youth League play-off. Club journalist Jack Mumford looks at the main talking points ahead of the match.
In contrast to the senior Champions League, the knockout rounds of the Youth League are single ties.
Having finished second in the group stage, City have an extra match in order to reach the last 16 and with only one chance, they must get it right in Salzburg.
Manager Simon Davies spoke this week of welcoming the pressure of the match and City will hope to rise to the occasion.
Another big stage
City have played at a number of famous and important stadiums across the Premier League 2 and UEFA Youth League tournaments so far this season including the Etihad Stadium, White Hart Lane and Barcelona’s Mini Estadi.
That means getting on the pitch at the Red Bull Arena, the first team’s home pitch and host of matches in Euro 2008, is unlikely to daunt these players but it will be another invaluable experience as they prepare for first team life.
Attacking in numbers
City have scored plenty of goals already in this UEFA Youth League campaign, 13 from six matches, and the attacking options are only becoming more plentiful as the season wears on.
With inverted wingers Jadon Sancho and Brahim Diaz, attacking midfielders like Paolo Fernandes and overlapping full-backs like Demeaco Duhaney all operating around a focal point, there’s sure to be a lot for the Austrian defenders to consider.
Several first year scholars appeared for Simon Davies’ side in the group stage. Ed Francis and Jadon Sancho were on the pitch for much of the time while Joel Latibeaudiere and Phil Foden also made strong showings.
With Lee Carsley’s U18s performing so well in both the U18 Premier League and FA Youth Cup, these players have clearly earned the right to be pushing for a role with an older group. If they’re selected, the age difference is unlikely to show.
Experience to keep Berisha quiet
In Salzburg’s huge wins over Macedonian champions Vardar Skopje and Kazakh side Kairat Almaty, Mergim Berisha has scored seven goals. Whether in the deeper role or as the lead of his side, Berisha is certainly a danger man for the Austrians.
However, with first-teamer Tosin Adarabioyo, local lads Cameron Humphreys and Charlie Oliver and U18s captain Latibeaudiere to pick from, Davies is certainly well stocked in central defence. Whoever the coach picks, they have the knowhow to keep Berisha at arms’ length.