Following their surprise successes in Paris (1-0) and Newcastle (2-1), the Borussia U19s will fly to Milan with the aim of consolidating their good position in the UEFA Youth League and securing a direct place in the round of 16 or – as group runners-up – in the play-offs.
The situation in Group F is complicated: Even if BVB were to win at the Centro Sportivo Vismara, the AC Milan youth stadium, on Tuesday (kick-off at 14:30 CET, LIVE on BVB TV) and take over pole position in the group, the team would still not have any guarantee of progression. "Whatever happens, it will go down to the final matchday," emphasised coach Mike Tullberg. AC Milan are currently top with nine points, followed by BVB (seven) and Paris Saint-Germain (six). Newcastle United are out of the running with one point. PSG will travel to the Brackel Youth Performance Centre on Wednesday 13 December (kick-off 16:00 CET), while Milan will pay a visit to Newcastle.
The conditions going into the match in Milan are anything but optimal. "On the one hand, I'm delighted for our boys that they've reached the semi-finals of the U17 World Cup, but on the other hand it doesn't make things any easier for our team," said Mike Tullberg, in reference to the personnel situation. In addition to captain and defender Filippo Mane, who has a knee injury, Borussia's World Cup players Charles Herrmann, Almugera Kabar and Paris Brunner will miss out in Milan. "We don't have such a large squad and will have to improvise," noted Tullberg, before going on to add: "We will make the best of this situation. I'm focusing on what I can influence."
Striker Ousmane Diallo's considerable improvement has therefore come at a good time. "He has developed well and has recently been the best man for the U17s. After his move from Spain and some understandable difficulties adapting, Ousmane is on a good path," said Mike Tullberg of the quick and tricky attacker, who – like U17 defender Tyler Meiser – will be promoted to the U19 squad for the Milan game. In addition, Tullberg is once again planning to use U23 players Hendry Blank and Samuel Bamba.
Most recent competitive game on 7 November
His boys last played a competitive match on 7 November against Newcastle, with the Bundesliga games against SC Verl and Schalke 04 postponed due to the U17 World Cup. "That's not ideal, but we'll still be well prepared and are looking forward to the clash with AC Milan, one of the top favourites to win the Youth League," declared Tullberg.
The Italians made a powerful impression in their 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture and demonstrated junior football of the highest quality in the first half. But they are not invulnerable. Paris Saint-Germain recently caused them a lot of problems. The French outfit won the reverse fixture 1-0, then came back from 2-0 down in the return fixture and only lost the game 3-2 due to a goal scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time. In their domestic championship, the Primavera 1, AC Milan have just lost 4-2 to Cagliari Calcio and occupy second spot in the table, two points behind local rivals Inter.
"We've already caused a few positive surprises away from home in the UEFA Youth League. In Manchester, Amsterdam and most recently in Paris, little was expected of us. We're also optimistic ahead of the match in Milan," emphasised Mike Tullberg. And as underdogs in the "group of death", his team have so far performed much better than the greatest optimists could have expected. (wiwi)