VIDEO. Antwerp promises score first Youth League goal after Catalan tampering at the back, but stunts are just not possible

The youngsters of Royal Antwerp FC can look back fondly on their baptism of fire in the Youth League. What was feared – that FC Barcelona’s U19s would show the visitors every corner of the Estadi Johan Cruyff – did not happen. ‘The Great Young’ played well at times, punished Catalan ball losses mercilessly and ultimately suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat.

Being allowed to play football at La Masía, where boys like Fàbregas, Xavi, Iniesta and of course Messi became men. Naturally, this inspired the youngsters of Antwerp to make the best of it, despite the unforeseen circumstances.

As we wrote in the run-up to this match: the Youth League is a big step into the unknown. Belgium does not organize a U19 competition like Spain does, for example. Antwerp barely has any guys from 2005 in its ranks. Only one of them – Eran Tuypens – was in the starting line-up. Furthermore, occasional coach Thomas Wils called on three dispensation players from 2004, five boys from 2006 and two guests from 2007.

The Great Young held up well in the initial phase. As was to be expected, Barcelona had enough possession of the ball, but thanks to a disciplined approach, the Catalans initially crashed into Antwerp’s defense belt. Wils must have been frustrated that Barça just opened the score on a corner kick. Olmedo headed Rodriguez’s cross past Devalckeneer without much effort.

The starting eleven of ‘The Great Young’. — © BELGIUM

Several Antwerp residents stand out

Despite the home team’s dominance, the visitors were still able to advance several times before half-time. Left back Tuypens stood out with his good interventions and rushes. His dangerous cross sowed doubt in the backline. Furthermore, Horemans showed off his vista and Courtens showed that he is strong on his feet.

Also strong on his legs: Dani Rodriguez. The tiny but quick winger constantly dived through the defense with his quick legs. When he added a nice dribble to a well-placed shot, the score was 2-0.

Easy-going Barça

Wils changed his team at half time in two positions. His fellow coach brought Guillermo Fernandez into the fray, a boy of barely 15 years old. Just like at the beginning of the game, Antwerp easily remained upright. Barça only threatened on stagnant phases and even became so lazy that waste crept into the always well-kept game. Godelaine punished tampering at the back mercilessly.

After the tying goal, Antwerp’s belief grew, while Barça shifted up a gear again. Thanks to a strong goalkeeping Devalckeneer, the 2-1 remained on the board in an open slot. An encouraging performance to receive the Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk at the Lisp in two weeks.


22′ 1-0 Alexis Olmedo (Dani Rodriguez), 29′ 2-0 Dani Rodriguez, 73′ 2-1 Godelaine

Antwerp started with:

Niels Devalckeneer – Semm Renders (46′ Lukas Aertbelien), Kyano Delaporte, Adreas Verstraeten, Tuypens – Milan Smits, Allan Courtens, Milo Horemans – Ignace Abdelmahid (63′ Beau De Wit), Robbe Doms (46′ Zakaria Gueddar), Jeff Godelaine (77′ Vandeplas)

Dani Rodriguez pours 2-0. — © BELGIUM

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