Cox: We're excited to play Dortmund
Excitement is building ahead of Manchester United Under-19s’ UEFA Youth League last-16 match against Borussia Dortmund.
The Reds will host the German giants at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday 1 March (20:00 GMT) after topping Group F before Christmas.
MUTV will show the match live, while supporters are also encouraged to attend at Leigh, free of charge.
Academy excited for UEFA Youth League match
Our U19s will face Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Youth League and Nick Cox, Head of Academy, explains the excitement...
Nick Cox, Head of Academy, explained to us his excitement at what lies ahead for the Under-19s.
“Everyone’s really excited that we’re playing against top opposition,” he said.
“Of course, at this stage of the competition, all the teams left in it are really good teams, but you want to play against the very best.
“The boys want to make progress, they want to get to a final. That’s part of our thinking, but for me and for our staff, it’s about how do we regularly put our players up against the very best so that we can learn, develop and improve. So the chance to play a high-profile fixture against European opposition is one that we welcome.”
The pandemic and travel restrictions stifled many of the usual opportunities that Academy players have to go abroad and challenge themselves against the best of other countries. The return of the UEFA Youth League has been a boon to the Academy programme, as Cox explained.
“We’re going to learn different stuff,” he began.
“What happens in our normal games programme is our boys actually become really familiar with the opposition. For some of our boys, they may have been playing against the same opponents since they were nine years old, and you slowly learn to work out how to solve the problem.
“Hopefully what will happen against Dortmund is that we’ll see a few conundrums that we’ve never faced before and the boys will have to work it out quickly and learn, and then put that learning into their toolbox for further on in their careers.”
The Youth League mirrors the UEFA Champions League at its group stages. United thus had to triumph over Atalanta, BSC Young Boys and Villarreal to progress.
Our visitors Dortmund had to go through the play-offs after finishing second in Group C, where they faced tough opponents in Sporting, Ajax and Besiktas.
The German side won three of their six games in that difficult set-up and then triumphed 5-3 over Serie A team Empoli away from home.
Should United win against Dortmund, the Reds will host either Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals on 15 or 16 March.