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Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2018: Anniversary edition and a first for women

ZURICH, March 22, 2018 - Curtain up for the stars of the future – both men’s and women’s! For the first time ever, women will take part in the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup this year, the 80th edition of the tournament. Six women’s U-19 teams from Switzerland and abroad will battle it out alongside as the ten male youth teams, meaning that there will be plenty of football on offer for fans of all ages on 9 and 10 May in Zurich!

Valencia, Inter, FC Zurich, Grasshoppers, Young Boys Bern, Blue Stars – these big names all conjure up visions of sparking football, be it men’s or women’s. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has already declared his commitment for FIFA to increase investment and the promotion of women’s football, and this unique list of participants will be doing they can to prove that women’s football is going in the right direction. The women’s game has certainly been growing steadily in recent years in Switzerland, and the big stage of the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup arrives at just the right time.

FC Blue Stars have been hosting this prestigious junior tournament since 1939, and right from the off, it established itself as one of the unique and special events which enabled fans and players to experience different styles of play from around the world. Over the years, it has lost none of its international appeal. And at this, the 80th Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup, the organisers have a few more surprises up their sleeve as well as the new women’s tournament.

Teams taking part at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2018: Men

S.C. Internacional Porto Alegre (Brazil)
Internacional’s U-20 side is currently one of the teams to beat in Brazil. Fans can expect a strong Brazilian squad to make the journey to Switzerland, with Internacional making their second appearance at the tournament. Back in 1998, they made it through to the final, losing to Grasshoppers on penalties.

Sporting Clube de Braga (Portugal)
A new name from Portugal is heading to the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup this year. Braga has a long had a reputation for the quality of its youth teams, with the U-19s qualifying for the last eight of their championship and currently level on points with Sporting and Porto, behind leaders Benfica.

RCD Espanyol de Barcelona (Spain)
While the club has a long-standing tradition in Spain, this is their first time at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup. Espanyol’s youngsters are near the top of the very strong Group 3 of the Division de Honor Juvenil and are expected to send what will be a strong snapshot of Spanish youth football to Zurich.

Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)
The juniors from the most famous club in Croatia last played in the tournament in 2011. This will be their fourth participation and, as on previous occasions, fans can look forward to seeing a strong squad make the journey over.

West Ham United - (England)
West Ham finished in a creditable fifth place and second in the last two tournaments in Zurich. The English players no doubt now know exactly what will be required of them if they are to go all the way this time around. The club has a strong youth section that is highly motivated to prove itself on the international stage.

1. FC Köln - (Germany)
Köln are towards the top half of mid-table in what is a very strong West Group of the A-Junior Bundesliga this season. This will be the first time after nearly 30 years, that they will come to Zurich. They were last here in 1990, and back in 1982. 36 years ago, they had none other than Christoph Daum as their coach.

FC Zurich (Switzerland)
With three wins and three more final appearances at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup in the last ten years, FCZ certainly know how to get to the business end of this tournament. They are also the top junior outfit in the Promotion League this season – a further testament to their quality.

Grasshopper Club Zurich (Switzerland)
The "Hoppers" juniors are coached by Boro Kuzmanovic, and over recent years have provided many a player for the first team. And while the youngsters may have fallen adrift of the upper echelons of the 1 Liga Classic of late, there is still a chance that they can make it into the top two and play off for promotion.

BSC Young Boys Bern (Switzerland)
The Young Boys young boys are back in Zurich after a lengthy absence, and their return coincides with the first team looking like they will win at least the title, if not the double, after a long period without silverware. Their U-21s are coached by Joel Magnin.

FC Blue Stars Zurich (Switzerland)
The host team has made it through to the latter stages of the tournament on a few occasions in recent years, and this time around they will again be looking to claim some more unforgettable satisfaction.

Teams taking part at the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2018: Women

ASD Femminile Inter Milano (Italy)
Inter Milan have shown in recent years that they have one of the best youth teams in the country. They were one of the stand-out teams in the spring round of the U19 championship last year, only losing to perennial champions (2014–2017) Roma on penalties.

Valencia CF (Spain)
Valencia CF Femenino’s youth team finished last season in first place in the Segunda Division Grupo VII. In Spain, the youth teams of the top clubs get to play in the second division of the senior championship, which certainly makes for a high-intensity competition. This season, Valencia currently occupies a very strong fourth place.

FC Zurich (Switzerland)
In recent years, FC Zurich have been the team to beat in Swiss women’s football. The first team won the double four times between 2012 and 2016, while the U21s have also been battling it out at the upper end of the NLB. The U-19s meanwhile are currently third in their particular league.

Grasshopper Club Zurich (Switzerland)

This season, the Grasshoppers youth team has fallen away from the leading pack in the newly-formed U-19 league, but results since the winter break have indicated that a turn-around in fortunes might be on the cards.

BSC Young Boys Bern (Switzerland)

The Swiss U-19 league table does not lie – after 13 matches, YB had only dropped two points, and scored an incredible 91 goals, at an average of seven per match! There was also no letting up when the team from the capital played their counterparts from Zurich, showing no mercy whatsoever. While the YB women’s NLA team is a little off the pace, the youngsters are by far and away the pick of the crop.

FC Blue Stars Zurich (Switzerland)
The women’s team from the host club has one of the largest youth sections in Switzerland. Little wonder therefore that the FC Blue Stars B/11 juniors dominated the Regional Group 1 in 2016/2017 and also the pre-Christmas part of the current season, as well as making the final of the regional cup last year, when they lost on penalties.
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