- The 81st Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup proved a thrilling showcase of talent
- Lucas Brochero and Maria Christina Lange dazzled
- Boca Juniors and Wolfsburg conquered
TOURNAMENT REVIEW: Fourteen thousand football fans made their way to the immaculately presented pitches in Zurich’s Altstetten district on 30 and 31 May 2019 for the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup. A competition full of memorable moments concluded on Friday evening as the exhilarating U-19 team from Boca Juniors faced their Benfica counterparts. The Argentinians ultimately prevailed under the floodlights as two penalties from Lucas Brochero handed them a 2-0 win. The Boca captain was also named player of the tournament.
Clutching the trophy, he said: “We made Argentina proud. We wanted to come to Europe to prove that we can play at this level. The final was a tough match, so intense, but we came out on top in the end.” Coach Rolando Schiavi added: “My team’s biggest strength is their unity. We wanted to win here to honour our shirt no matter what.”
Greek side PAOK, who finished second in Group B behind Benfica, beat last year’s winners Dinamo Zagreb in the third-place playoff. It was an eventful game that included shots hitting the woodwork and the drama of a shootout, which PAOK won 4-3. Dinamo has progressed through the group stage without conceding a single goal.
Wolfsburg’s women shine
The U-19 team from VfL Wolfsburg delivered an impressive technical display and practically played all of their Group A opponents off the field. They then faced defending champions Young Boys in the final. Despite rising to the occasion in the second half, the side from Bern suffered a resounding 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Young She-Wolves. Nevertheless, Young Boys’ Saskia Burki took home the award for best goalkeeper of the tournament.
Wolfsburg defender Lotta Cordes summed up the tournament for her side: “We wanted to have fun and win, as it’s the last outing for us as a group. Many of the players are leaving the team at the end of the season.” For their coach Saban Uzun, the triumph marked the culmination of two years of development work. “The girls earned this moment,” he said after their final victory. Wolfsburg’s technically gifted striker Maria Christina Lange was also crowned player of the tournament.
More to come next year
Swiss teams experienced mixed fortunes at this year’s Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup. Only Young Boys’ women’s team finished in the top three, while the men’s teams from FC Zurich (5th), GC Zurich (6th), FC Basel (8th) and FC Blue Stars (10th) did not always have luck on their side.
The Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup proved how entertaining elite youth football can be. A bright future is also in store for the tournament itself, which is set to continue for at least the next three years.
Facts and figures at the 81st Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup:
Men: 1. Boca Juniors; 2. SL Benfica; 3. PAOK Saloniki; 4. Dinamo Zagreb; 5. FC Zurich; 6. GC Zurich; 7. FC Sevilla; 8. FC Basel; 9. Seattle Sounders; 10. FC Blue Stars.
Women: 1. VfL Wolfsburg; 2. BSC Young Boys; 3. Vancouver Whitecaps; 4. FC Internazionale Women; 5. FC Zurich; 6. Blue Stars Zurich.
Best women’s player: Maria Christina Lange (VfL Wolfsburg)
Best men’s player: Lucas Brochero (Boca Juniors)
Best women’s goalkeeper: Saskia Burki (BSC Young Boys)
Best men’s goalkeeper: Matias Ramos Mingo (Boca Juniors)
Fair Play award: Vancouver Whitecaps (women), PAOK Saloniki (men)
Attendance: 14,000 (overall).