The Viareggio Cup World Football Tournament Coppa Carnevale – also called the Torneo di Viareggio – features 48 teams from 16 countries and is kind of a youth club world cup, although apparently Newcastle are the only club sending a team from England this year.
This Viagra Tournament is no Mickey Mouse affair though and is officially recognised by the likes of FIFA and UEFA, lending some prestige to the whole thing.
It has been totally dominated by the Italians for most of its history. Fiorentina and AC Milan have won it 8 times each and Juventus have won it 7 times. In fact 9 out of the top 10 all-time winners have been Italian, with Dukla Prague having won it 6 times to spoil the Italian top 10 clean sweep.
The only success for an English club in the tournament was in 1981 and 1982 when Ipswich Town were runners up.
Peter Beardsley and Willie Donachie are leading affairs from a managerial perspective and Donachie had this to say about things:
“For me, the main thing is that it’s a tremendous experience for the young players.
“You only learn with experience and by playing against better players, they’re going to learn about the game and about different systems so it’s an unbelievable opportunity for them.
“We want to win, obviously, but no matter what happens it’s going to be a great experience.
“We’ve got a few players either injured or not available, like Haris (Vuckic) and Fabio (Zamblera) and Fergie (Shane Ferguson) who was left at home. But we’ve still got a good bunch of lads with a lot of potential and it’s going to be great playing against some of the very best young players.“
Our 19-man squad consists of: Ole Soderberg, Jonathan Mitchell, Dan Leadbitter, Alex Nicholson, Louis Storey, Jeff Henderson, Michael Riley, Paul Dummett, Greg McDermott, Michael Richardson, Brad Inman, Michael Hoganson, Patrick McLaughlin, Joan Edmundsson, Conor Newton, Haris Vuckic, Phil Airey, Fabio Zamblera and Dan Taylor.
Our first game is against Fiorentina in the group stages on Tuesday evening.
Good luck to the lads.