21 April 2022
Friday 22 April 2022, a date that will go down in Juventus Under 19 history books because in Nyon, Switzerland, Coach Bonatti's team will play for the first time in the semi-final of the UEFA Youth League Final Four, against Benfica.
The young Bianconeri have already achieved something extraordinary to reach this far in Europe’s premier youth club tournament. First place in the group stage was secured with a club best points haul on the back of five wins and a draw in the six fixtures. Furthermore, no team could outdo Juve’s 18 goals amassed throughout the group phase.
In the Round of 16, a one-off fixture played in the Netherlands, the Under 19 held their nerves in the penalty shoot out after a goalless draw. In the quarter finals, instead, Liverpool were sent home after Juve produced a scintillating performance, winning 2-0 at Vinovo.
Now the time has finally come to write this new chapter in club history. Tomorrow, at the Colovray Sports Center in Nyon, Juve and Benfica clash for the first time in their history.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | BENFICA
Benfica have an important track record in the Youth League. In the previous seven editions of the European youth club competition, the Portuguese team have made it to three finals, finishing runners-up each time.
The Lusitanians reached the last act of the tournament in the inaugural edition, in season 2013/14, and the most recent, season 2019/20, but failed to get the better of their Spanish opposition, first Barcelona, then Real Madrid. The remaining final set-back was in season 2016/17, when Salzburg triumphed. The Austrians have once again made it to the final four and play Atletico Madrid in the second semi-final, also to be played tomorrow.
Benfica have equaled Real Madrid's record of six quarter-final appearances and this year have joined Chelsea as record semi-final appearance makers, with the fourth Final Four in their history.
To reach the semifinals, Benfica finished top of their group, collecting 15 points from five wins and one defeat. The only misstep came in the opening match, a 4-0 defeat away at Dynamo Kiev.
In the round of 16, Luís Castro's side beat the Danes of Midtjylland 3-2 in Denmark, able to rally after finding themselves 2-1 down after less than a quarter of an hour played.The quarter final was nothing less than the Lisbon derby. Benfica dominated, thrashing their local rivals 4-0 thanks to a brace each from Pedro Santos and Diego Moreira.
Benfica have won a total of 41 matches in the Youth League, just four fewer than Real Madrid who lead this ranking. However, when the Portuguese club take to the field against Juventus for their 69th appearance in the competition they will catch the Spaniards for the most matches played in the tournament.
The final phase of the 2021/2022 Youth League returns to the classic format with four teams to play for the title and will be played at the Colovray Sports Center in Nyon, located opposite the UEFA headquarters and on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The ground, which opened in 1991, is home to Stade Nyonnais, which competes in the Swiss third division, and was chosen as the venue for the Youth League Final Four from the inaugural tournament in 2014.