United fixtures confirmed for Premier League International Cup

The young Reds have been drawn against defending champions Villarreal, Sparta Prague and Middlesborugh in Group B of the tournament.

United fixtures confirmed for Premier League International Cup
Manchester United U21s celebrate winning the 15/16 U21 Premier League at White Hart Lane (MUFC/Getty)

Manchester United announced last month that a reserve side will participate in the 2016/17 Premier League International Cup starting in September.

The Red Devils will be appearing in the coveted youth competition for the first time since it was formed in the 14/15 season.

Who will Manchester United play?

The Reds have been drawn into Group B of the competition and face tricky opposition in last seasons' winners Villarreal, Premier League 2 outfit Middlesborough and Czech giants Sparta Prague.

The campaign will kick-off on either the 13th or 14th of September at Leigh Sports Village against Villarreal, they then face a months wait until Sparta Prague travel to Leigh on the 15th of December and finally Middlesborough visit a week later on the 22nd of December to complete the group fixtures.

Each game will be played at 19:00 BST and there will be free entry available for all spectators.

Villareal won last seasons' competition (Premier League)
Villareal won last season's competition (Premier League)

Competition format

United join 23 of Europe’s elite youth clubs in the tournament played in England, 11 others from the Premier League 2 and 12 from around the continent with the teams being spilt into six groups of four.

The four teams in a group will play each other once, with each of the six group winners proceeding into the quarter-finals along with the two best runners-up. 

A normal knockout format awaits those eight teams with extra-time and penalties required in the case of a draw after 90 minutes, automatic invitations to the following seasons' competition are also offered to the eight clubs who escape the group stage.

Competition's history

The Premier League International Cup was introduced two years ago to give youth academies the chance to develop an understanding of the contrasting styles in domestic and European football by playing against the continents’ best players in their age group.

Manchester City clinched the first ever trophy in 2014/15 after a 1-0 win over Porto in the final while Villarreal were victorious in last seasons’ edition with an exciting 4-2 win against PSV Eindhoven after extra-time.

City are not taking part in the tournament this season, however Villarreal are looking to defend their crown and find themselves in Group B alongside no other than Manchester United.

All 24 teams involved:

Premier League 2 teams: Aston Villa, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Middlesborough, Norwich City, Reading, Sunderland and Swansea City.

Invited European teams: Athletic Club Bilbao, Celtic, Dinamo Zagreb, Porto, Feyenoord, Hertha Berlin, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica, Valencia, Villarreal, Sparta Prague and Wolfsburg.