Premier League International Cup: Format explained

8 Oct 2017
Porto celebrate winning PL International Cup

Porto won 2016/17 competition, previously won by Man City and Villarreal, which combines top English and European youth sides

Twelve of England's best Academy sides compete against 12 of the top development squads in the rest of Europe in the Premier League International Cup.

The knockout tournament, stretched from 16 to 24 teams from 2016/17, was introduced for the 2014/15 season to give homegrown talent the chance to test themselves against the best young players in the continent and adapt to the demands and different styles of domestic and European football, something they will have to cope with if they play UEFA Champions League or Europa League matches in their senior careers.

The 2016/17 competition was won by FC Porto (pictured above), after they beat Sunderland 5-0 in the final, in front of 18,317 fans at the Stadium of Light. 

Villarreal B won the 2015/16 PL International Cup
Villarreal B won the 2015/16 Premier League International Cup

One English team and one European side were crowned International Cup champions in the competition's first two seasons.

Manchester City were the inaugural winners after beating Porto 1-0 in the final at the City Academy Stadium, while Villarreal emerged victorious in 2015/16 final, when they beat PSV Eindhoven 4-2 after extra-time at Millwall's New Den.

Twelve teams from Premier League 2 and 12 equivalent teams from elite European Academies are invited, with the competition split into six groups of four. 

The six group winners and the two best runners-up advance to the quarter-finals.

Manchester City were the 2014/15 winners
Manchester City were the 2014/15 winners

In the knockout stages, the ties are decided in one-off matches, with extra-time and then penalties required if the match is level after 90 minutes.

Teams competing in the PL International Cup will be made up of Under-23 players, aside from a maximum of three outfield players and the goalkeeper. All matches are played in England.

2017/18 PL International Cup Groups

Group A: Sparta Praha, Liverpool, Newcastle United, PSV Eindhoven
Group B: Hertha BSC, Legia Warsaw, Leicester City, Sunderland
Group C: Derby County, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Everton, VfL Wolfsburg
Group D: Athletic Club Bilbao, Celtic FC, Manchester United, Swansea City
Group E: Arsenal, FC Bayern Munich, FC Porto, Reading
Group F: SL Benfica, Tottenham Hotspur, Villarreal CF, West Ham United

PL International Cup winners

2016/17: Porto B
2015/16: Villarreal B
2014/15: Manchester City

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