CHELSEA ACADEMY TAKES ON BARCELONA TODAY
It is a double header of European knockout action for Chelsea sides this week with, a day before the first team host Sparta Prague, our Under-19 team playing away at Barcelona in the NextGen Series competition. The match is live on Chelsea TV.
It is one of the first round of knockout games in what is the first season Chelsea have taken part in this European tournament. A last 16 tie, it is to be decided by a single match.
Chelsea qualified from the group stage along with CSKA Moscow and Ajax; Molde from Norway the side eliminated. Barcelona topped a group containing Anderlecht, Tottenham and Wolfsburg. They lost 4-1 at home to Spurs but won in London.They drew twice against Anderlecht.
'We have watched DVDs of their games and the bottom line is they are a Barcelona side and they will have a way of playing,' says Dermot Drummy who is in charge of the Chelsea Under-19 side in the NextGen series.
'We were told they had 82 per cent possession in one NextGen game, similar to their first team, but we believe in the way we play and we will react as the game goes on.
'We will try to play our game but if at times we are under pressure we will lock up. How our boys react on the pitch is where their development takes place, they have to feel the game but it has to be entertaining as well. We must never forget that people watch the sport to win but also to be entertained.
'All our coaches have been learning from these games. We learn, we plan and we prepare, and we loved to go to Ajax in our last group match. We liked for a team to have the ball more than us at times because that is the reality of the modern game. We will play our game because we believe in our players and the culture we are setting down at the club.'
Former Dutch international and ex-Ajax and Barcelona player Ronald de Boer, now a coach in Ajax's youth development programme, was reported to have praised the quality of the players in Chelsea's NextGen team after our 3-3 draw there.
'Comments from a person of the stature of Ronald De Boer are very encouraging and nine of our players who played in that game are English and others have come right through our Academy, so that is a credit,' says Drummy.
'We're not there yet but I think we are on the right track and for people from Ajax to give us praise is praise indeed.
'Now we are really looking forward to the whole experience of playing in Barcelona and hopefully following on from a good result in the FA Youth Cup it will be a very exciting week for the Academy.
'Most of this team play in the Youth Cup, the NextGen and the Under-21s so it is arduous but we feel that with the right training loads, we can carry it through and at the moment everybody is in good shape.'
Midfielder Lewis Baker and centre-back Alex Davey who were part of the youth team's cup win over Barnsley on Friday have been ever-present in the NextGen campaign so far, with full-back Adam Nditi and schoolboy Jeremie Boga playing in five out of the six group games. Islam Feruz is topscorer with four goals.
The squad travelled to Spain yesterday (Tuesday) and trained in the evening. This morning they have a tour of the Camp Nou stadium with the match taking place in the 15,000-capacity Mini Estadi nearby.
The game kicks off at 5pm UK time, 6pm local time. Chelsea TV's coverage starts at 4.45pm UK time.
The full fixture list for the NextGen last 16 round is:
Paris St. Germain v Tottenham Hotspur
CSKA Moscow v PSV Eindhoven
Sporting Lisbon v Liverpool
Barcelona v Chelsea
Inter Milan v Arsenal
Olympiacos v Anderlecht
Juventus v Rosenborg
Ajax v Aston Villa