ESS Hosts Best Young Players in Europe

Two of Europe’s most successful youth academies meet at the Electrical Services Stadium on Tuesday as part of the new Premier League International Cup.

Jong PSV Eindhoven face Athletic Club Bilbao’s Under 21 side in Group B of the 16 team tournament. Kick-off is at 7pm and admission is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.

Athletic Club have already won the first Group B fixture, 5-3 against West Ham United at Upton Park, and now meet the team who play in Eerste Divisie, the second tier of Dutch professional football.

Last season, Athletic Club Bilbao finished fourth in La Liga – and subsequently qualified for the Champions League – with a squad featuring 21 graduates of the legendary Lezama Academy. For over a century, the Club – which has its roots in the shipworkers of Sunderland and Southampton – have recruited only players from their own Basque region but have still created more Spanish internationals than any team other than Real Madrid. Notable former alumni include Andoni Zubizarreta (the second most capped Spaniard of all-time), Joseba Etxeberria, Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez.

Jong PSV’s squad has recently featured three full internationals, including 20 year-old left-back Jetro Willems who has 11 caps for the Netherlands and was tipped to be part of Louis van Gaal’s World Cup squad before damaging knee ligaments in April. Jong PSV also boast an array of Netherlands youth internationals in their current ranks, having previously produced players of the calibre of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (66 international caps, Real Madrid, AC Milan), Ibrahim Affelay (Barcelona), Wilfred Bouma (Aston Villa, PSG), and Boudewijn Zenden (Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona).

The Premier League International Cup places eight Premier League Academy sides alongside eight of the top youth teams from across Europe in four groups, with all matches played in England between October and January. Group A sees Chelsea and Norwich City drawn alongside Porto and Borussia Monchengladbach; joining PSV and Athletic Club Bilbao in Group B are Fulham and West Ham United; Group C will feature Manchester City, Leicester City, Benfica and Schalke 04; whilst Group D contains Everton, Sunderland, Celtic and Villarreal.

The winners and runners-up from each group will progress to the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Final, all to be played as single-leg ties in England.