After their sensational shootout win over Paris Saint-Germain, the Borussia Dortmund U19s now find themselves in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League. 

”It was an exceptional performance, and it’s an exceptional performance to make it into the best eight teams in Europe. You can tell that this competition means a lot to both coaches and players,” said a delighted Lars Ricken, director of the hugely successful BVB academy, following the intense and high-quality clash with the heavily-favoured French club. A mature and measured team performance was rewarded through victory in a penalty shootout after the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Next up in the Youth League is the quarter-final tie against Hadjuk Split on 14 or 15 May in Dortmund. The Croatians caused an even greater shock in the last 16, as they knocked out Manchester City 2-1. ”We’re facing top-quality opposition,” says coach Mike Tullberg. Indeed, Hajduk have a spotless record in the competition thus far. The Croatian club qualified for the play-off round via the champions’ route with victories over Azerbaijani club FC Gabala (3-0, 2-1) and Albanian champions Apolonia Fier (3-0, 3-1). They then reached the last 16 with a 1-0 victory over Shaktar Donetsk 1-0 in a single knockout match.

Hajduk have long been regarded as Croatia’s biggest talent factory. The club finances itself primarily through selling talented youngsters, who receive the best possible footballing education in the “Luka Kaliterna Academy”. Graduates of the academy include Alen Boksic, Branko Oblak and Igor Tudor, who went on to become world-class players. Ex-BVB pro Ivan Perisic also comes from the Hajduk school, as does the legendary goalkeeper Vladimir Beara. The current generation is already being scouted by big European clubs, with particular focus placed on attacking players such as Jere Vrcic, Mate Antunovic and Roko Brajkovic.

A look ahead to an exciting Bundesliga finale

The Black & Yellows now have two days off to savour their triumph over Paris Saint-Germain. From Thursday, Mike Tullberg will get his “heroes” back to work to prepare for the exciting final stretch of the Bundesliga campaign.

After BVB missed their opportunity to secure a first-place finish by conceding a late equaliser against 1. FC Köln last Friday (1-1), just three points separate Borussia (31 points) from third-placed Schalke 04 (28), who have superior goal difference. 1. FC Köln are in second place with 29 points.

Borussia face Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday (11:00 CET) before hosting Bayer Leverkusen on the final matchday (11 March, 11:00 CET). Köln will play Leverkusen at home before travelling to relegated Hilden. Schalke’s remaining fixtures are RW Oberhausen at home and Mönchengladbach away. None of them can afford a slip-up. In April, the semi-finals for the German championship will be contested by the West champion and the North/Northeast champion, as well as the West runner-up and the South/Southwest champion.

All outstanding business in the Bundesliga will be settled by the afternoon of 11 March. And then, anticipation for the big game against Hajduk Split will grow and grow for Borussia’s U19s, coaches, players and staff.