Chelsea vs Aston Villa, NextGen Final: babies face off in Italy

Tony Marshall

Aston Villa and Chelsea U19s meet in the final of the NextGen Series. Kickoff is 6 p.m. CET in Como, Italy.

Briefly

What: NextGen Final between Chelsea and Aston Villa U19s

Where: Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia, Como, Italy

When: 6 p.m. CET / 5 p.m. GMT / do the math

How: AVTV has audio, you can follow along with the NextGen Twitter, and if you have EuroSport, you can catch it there.

The Story Up Til Now -- Aston Villa

Last season, the first of the NextGen tournament, the Villans made it as far as the quarter-finals, where they lost to Marseille in added extra time. This time around, they've made it all the way to the final, proving that, in this dismal season, there's at least something to still be proud of when it comes to the Villa.

The Villa babies actually lost their first two NextGen matches -- to Sporting Lisbon and PSV -- making it appear they were simply taking after their older brothers. But the youngsters actually managed to shake off their losses, bounce back, and haven't lost since.

After demolishing Sporting 5-1 in the final match of the group stages, Villa finished second in their group and went on to face Ajax. In the quarterfinals they were pitted against Olympiacos. An early goal from Graham Burke was enough to send the babies on to the semi-finals.

Villa's match against Sporting, their third of the tournament, was played out on Friday. Again Burke scored the opener, but the Portuguese side equalized about fifteen minutes later. The match moved into extra time, during which Sporting withered and died. Jack Grealish quickly scored and, to seal the win, Samir Carruthers grabbed another.

The Story So Far -- Chelsea

This is the first year in NextGen for the Blues, and they've well proved themselves thus far in the tournament (obviously, since they've made it this far). But Chelsea started off rather slowly, finishing third in their group, with just two wins. In NextGen, the top four third-placed teams move on to the knockout round, and that's how Chelsea slipped in.

After that, the Blues made it clear they were playing to win it all. They defeated Barcelona 2-0 before putting four past Juventus -- possibly revenge for the Italian side kicking their big brothers out of the Champions League.

Chelsea were pitted against Arsenal for the semi-final, which seemed to be a rather crazy match. Arsenal took an early lead before Chelsea went up 3-1. Then the Young Guns scored two in two minutes, right at the end of normal time. But Lewis Baker won it for the Blues, and they were on to face the Villa in the final.

Now what?

Now we throw all of our Villa support behind the youngsters. Liverpool loss this weekend? Doesn't matter today. Relegation battle? Ignore it for now. The Villa academy has always been a source of pride and getting to the finals of this tournament is a great accomplishment.

There are some great kids on that team: Grealish, Burke, Carruthers of course, as well as Derrick Williams, Michael Drennan, and Callum Robinson. Playing in a tournament like this is fantastic experience for all of them, and one that can only serve to strengthen this club. Win or lose, our babies done good so far.

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