Last season, between flashes of brilliance and a few moments of good fortune, Liverpool managed to advance to the semi-finals of the inaugural NextGen Series, a U19 competition for Europe's top academies modeled on the Champions League. Today, full details for the 2012-13 edition were released, with the competition growing to 24 clubs with the addition of the likes of Arsenal, Dortmund, CSKA Moscow, and Athletic Bilbao to the roster.
The NextGen Series remains a home-and-home group stage affair, now grown to six groups of four to accommodate the extra sides. After the group stage ends, the top two clubs from each group and the top four third-place finishers advance to the knockouts starting with a round of sixteen to be held in the new year.
In the year that's passed since the competition debuted, UEFA has attempted to muscle their way in by starting their own European youth competition. Michel Platini's attempt to play catch-up, however, appears inherently flawed as it ties youth qualification to senior qualification. With many of Europe's best academies at clubs that aren't locks for the Champions League and the chance the youth side that wins UEFA's U19 Champions League could be shut out from it the next year on one hand, and on the other a multi-year commitment to the clubs that join the already established NextGen Series, UEFA's attempts to compete with NextGen are off to an unconvincing start.
For clubs and fans, though, questions concerning NextGen and UEFA and multiple competitions are for the future. For reserves coach Rodolfo Borrell and Liverpool—though for some clubs the competition begins as early as August 15th—the main concern for now is a trip to Milan to face defending NextGen champions Inter on September 19th before moving on to Dortmund and Rosenborg in further group play.
Liverpool's Group 5 Schedule:
Inter Milan v. Liverpool — September 19th
Dortmund v. Liverpool — October 31st
Liverpool v. Rosenborg — November 13th
Liverpool v. Dortmund — November 28th
Rosenborg v. Liverpool — TBD
Liverpool v. Inter Milan — TBD