A Raúl led under-19s side consisting of several Castilla players today made the UEFA Youth League final for the first time in the club’s history. After beating Juventus 3-1 in the round of 16 with ten men, then conquering Inter Milan 3-0 in the quarters - Los Blancos were drawn against the prestigious Red Bull Salzburg under-19s in the semi-final. Unlike Madrid, Salzburg had already won the trophy in recent seasons, and promised a strong challenge for the youngsters.
The nerves were certainly calmed early after Juanmi Latasa put Madrid in front with an easy finish due to Marvin Park’s defence crumbling work. Juvenil A then continued to attack, with Castilla hopeful Sergio Arribas hitting the post after rounding the keeper. The second goal was a lot less eye pleasing, with a deflected shot from Miguel Gutiérrez fortunately (for some) finding the bottom corner. Salzburg did fight back through the spot, as Luka Sučić sent the keeper the wrong way after being bundled down in the box. This spark was not enough to save a result however, as Real Madrid emerged 2-1 victors and booked their place in the final for the first time.
That final will be played out on Tuesday, with Benfica confirmed as the opponents. That’s another club to have seen more success in recent years than Madrid - but nevertheless, this is the best chance the club has ever had at bringing this honour home. Not only is it allowing certain Castilla players such as Marvin Park or Antonio Blanco to stay sharp and ready for the new Segunda B season - but it also allows Raúl to gain a greater understanding of the talent pool available to him over the next couple of years. Can Madrid finally conquer Europe at youth level?