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UEFA Youth League

The UEFA Youth League is a club competition launched by UEFA in 2013. In the current format, it is contested by youth teams of the clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League group stage, and it also includes the domestic youth champions from the top 32 associations.

On Thursday, 6th December 2012, UEFA confirmed that they will organise a brand-new under-19 club competition, the UEFA Youth League, to be introduced at the start of the 2013/14 season. Former UEFA President Michel Platini stated: “We believe that the UEFA Youth League is an attractive additional proposition for UEFA Champions League clubs. We have now created a competitive opportunity for youth players to be involved in club-level international matches.”

The 2013/14 & 2014/15 UEFA Youth League campaigns mirrored the exact format for the Men’s UEFA Champions League for the group stages. However, the knockout stages were single ties, with the semi-finals and final played at neutral grounds. The first two campaigns of this competition were a trial basis.
After two years, the UEFA Youth League became a permanent UEFA competition starting from the 2015/16 season, as the tournament expanded from 32 to 64 teams to allow youth domestic champions of the top 32 associations to participate in the competition.
Since 2015, and in the current format, the 32 Champions League group stage youth teams retain the group stage format, with the group winners progressing to the round of 16 and the runners-up advancing to the play-offs. The 32 youth domestic champions compete in two rounds of two-legged ties, with the eight winners progressing to the play-offs, where they will contest a single match at home against the UEFA Youth group stage runners-up. From the round of 16 onwards, single-leg ties are retained.

Since 2013, Barcelona and Chelsea have been the most successful teams to have won the UEFA Youth League, with two titles each. Chelsea was the first side to win back-to-back trophies in 2015 and 2016, while Barcelona won the competition’s inaugural season and secured their second title in 2018.
Dutch side AZ Alkmaar are the current UEFA Youth League defending champions after defeating Hajduk Split 5 – 0 in the 2023 final.

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