Youth League: AZ vs. Klaipeda FM

Published on 15 september 23, 15:24

NYON - Lithuanian club Klaipeda FM is AZ's opponent in the first round of the UEFA Youth League. The young talents from Alkmaar will start with a home match on October 4, followed by the return leg in Lithuania on October 25. Please note that these dates are subject to change.

This season marks Klaipeda FM's debut in the Youth League, and it's their first time participating in European competition.

Qualification
Despite AZ Under 18 missing out on the national title, the club is still participating in the Youth League. This is due to a special provision where the titleholder of the tournament receives an additional ticket. The condition for this is that at least one club in Europe, with either its Under 18 or Under 19 team, becomes the national champion and simultaneously qualifies its first team for the Champions League. The latter automatically grants participation in the Youth League.

Domestic Champions Path
AZ has met this condition, which means that AZ, like in the past two seasons, enters the Domestic Champions Path. This is one of the two tournament routes distinguished in the first two rounds. AZ must survive two knockout rounds to reach the playoffs, where they will face the runners-up from the Champions League Path. Participants in that route begin the tournament with a group stage.


History
In the previous season, AZ made history by winning the Youth League. They became the first Dutch club ever to lift the trophy. Their impressive journey included victories against teams like Eintracht Frankfurt (5-0), FC Barcelona (0-3), Real Madrid (4-0), and Sporting CP (2-2, won on penalties). They defeated Hajduk Split 5-0 in the final.

Intercontinental Cup
Additionally, AZ will compete with an Under 20 selection in the Intercontinental Cup against Boca Juniors. In this Finalissima organized by UEFA and CONMEBOL, Boca Juniors are the opponents. The Argentinians won the U20 Copa Libertadores, the South American counterpart to the Youth League, in mid-July. The battle for the world cup will take place on Argentine soil at the legendary La Bombonera, Boca Juniors' home stadium. Kickoff is at 21:00 Dutch time. The Alkmaar selection departs for Buenos Aires on Tuesday.