The NextGen Series
While Villa will have to wait perhaps to next preseason to see the desired Aston Villa vs Celtic match in honour Stilyian Petrov, this season’s NextGen tournament which kick-starts Wednesday with the visit of Sporting Clube de Portugal to Villa Park, will see the two teams play home and away at youth level in the group stages of what is essentially youth football’s European Champion’s League.
Last season, the tournament saw Inter Milan pip Ajax on penalties in the final. Ajax had earlier disposed of Barcelona 3-0 in the quarter-finals, and it’s worth remembering Villa with the aid of a Gary Gardener hat-trick had beaten Ajax by the same margin on the way to winning their group.
Villa will be looking to go further than the quarter-finals of last season, where they were unlucky to go out 2-1 against Marseille, despite home advantage.
Going on last season, fellow quarter-finalists Sporting Lisbon (who only got knocked out to the eventual winners) perhaps will be the biggest challenge to Villa this time around, with Celtic and PSV also possessing decent teams at this level.
This season the tournament expands to 24 teams with Chelsea one of the extra teams to sign up.
The other English teams in the 24-team NextGen series tournament are: Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham Hotspur
The NextGen Series Group Stage Fixtures
Aston Villa vs Sporting Clube de Portugal 15/8/12
PSV Eindhoven vs Aston Villa 29/08/12
Celtic vs Sporting 6/9/12
Aston Villa vs Celtic 19/09/12
PSV vs Sporting 26/09/12
Celtic vs PSV 3/10/12
Celtic vs Aston Villa 24/10/12
Sporting vs PSV 24/10/12
Aston Villa vs PSV 07/11/12
Sporting vs Celtic 7/11/12
PSV vs Celtic 28/11/12
Sporting vs Aston Villa 28/11/12
(Tickets for the Sporting Lisbon game are £3 for adults season ticket holders, £4 for adults, £1 for U16 season ticket holders and £2 for U16s.)
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