Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup kicks off in style
VfL Wolfsburg and BSC Young Boys reach final of women's event
Wolfsburg defender Nina Racke: "Now we want the title"
Past champions Dinamo Zagreb and Boca Juniors impress
THE DAY REPLAYED - Glorious spring weather greeted 7,500 enthusiastic fans as the 81st edition of the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup kicked off in Zurich. There were impressive performances in the men's pool from Boca Juniors and last year's winners Dinamo Zagreb, as well in the women's section with VfL Wolfsburg and defending champions Young Boys.
Boca Juniors sit atop Group A with three victories, which, coupled with their eye-catching style of play, has sent out a statement of intent that they are in Zurich to win silverware. Nevertheless, the Argentinians are not yet certain of top spot, as on Friday they face Dinamo Zagreb, who also won all three of their assignments on Thursday - and without conceding. The winner of that match will progress to the final.
There, they will meet one of SL Benfica, PAOK Saloniki - two teams with large numbers of supporters – FC Basel or even FC Zurich. All four clubs are involved in a tense race to finish top of Group B, with the Portuguese side in pole position as current leaders.
The Wolfsburg women's team have also stood out, first with comfortable wins over FC Blue Stars and the Vancouver Whitecaps, before thrashing FC Internazionale Women 5-0 in the semi-finals. "We've been very well received here at this tournament," said Wolfsburg defender Nina Racke after helping her side into the final. "Now we want to win the title."
In the second women's semi-final, Young Boys earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Whitecaps and now have their sights set on retaining the trophy they won last year. "Anything's possible now," said goalkeeper Saskia Burki, who kept her side in the game with stunning saves. "We're in great form and are hungry to win the tournament, even if we are up against Wolfsburg."
The finals will be played on Friday 31 May, with the women's fixture kicking off at 18:50 local time and the men's title decider at 20:10. Highlights of the bronze-medal matches and the finals will be available to watch on FIFA on YouTube.
Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup: Day 1
Mya Jones of Vancouver Whitecaps (R) is challenged by Antonia Baass of VFL Wolfsburg (L)
The VFL Wolfsburg team celebrate scoring
Women Group A: VfL Wolfsburg 8–0 FC Blue Stars FC Blue Stars 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps Vancouver Whitecaps 1–5 VfL Wolfsburg
Group B: FC Internazionale Women 0–1 FC Zurich FC Zurich 0–2 BSC Young Boys BSC Young Boys 0-1 FC Internazionale Women
Semi-finals: VfL Wolfsburg 5–0 FC Internazionale Women Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 BSC Young Boys
Men Group A: Dinamo Zagreb 2–0 FC Blues Stars Boca Juniors 2–0 FC Sevilla FC Sevilla 0–0 FC Blue Stars GC Zurich 0–2 Dinamo Zagreb Boca Juniors 3–1 GC Zurich FC Sevilla 0–3 Dinamo Zagreb FC Blue Stars 0–5 Boca Juniors
Group B: SL Benfica 1–0 FC Zurich Seattle Sounders 1–1 PAOK Saloniki PAOK Saloniki 1–1 FC Zurich FC Basel 0–1 SL Benfica Seattle Sounders 0–1 FC Basel PAOK Saloniki 1–0 SL Benfica FC Zurich 3–0 Seattle Sounders
Friday, 31 May Placement matches/Women Play-off for fifth place: FC Blue Stars – FC Zurich Play-off for third place: FC Internazionale Women – Vancouver Whitecaps Final: VfL Wolfsburg - BSC Young Boys
Men Group A: GC Zurich – FC Sevilla Dinamo Zagreb – Boca Juniors FC Blue Stars – GC Zurich
Men Group B: FC Basel – PAOK Saloniki SL Benfica – Seattle Sounders FC Zurich – FC Basel
Placement matches: Play-off for ninth place: Fifth in Group A – Fifth in Group B Play-off for seventh place: Fourth in Group A – Fourth in Group B Play-off for fifth place: Third in Group A – Third in Group B Play-off for third place: Group A runner-up – Group B runner-up Final: Group A winner – Group B winner