With  Premier League youth teams competing in the EFL trophy (for 6 years now ) it got me wondering how these U23 sides would fair in league 2 . The stereotypes of u23 sides being characterized as soft and not capable of dealing with men’s football something that l was put to the test during this experiment; What we got was evidence for both sides.

To help me get a better grasp off this , I headed off and went to three games in a space of a week . The first one I went to was Corinthian Casuals vs Hornchurch . The teams sit 15n and 16n respectively  in the Isthmian Football League ( the 6th tier of English football ) .  Corinthian casuals won 1-0 at home with Kieron Cadogan scoring the only goal . To be quite frank , the style of play and level of understanding was nothing more than I expected . The game was played mostly in the air with a refusal to play out from the back. The tactics were quite simple as well . Get the ball forward for the striker to have a 50 50 with the centre back  ( which incidentally  in this game the center-back won 90 percent of the time ) . The second game I attended was Afc Wimbledon vs Crystal Palace u21s . I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to see face to face what a mens team vs  an U21 academy side would be like. However, I was quite disappointed when I saw that the team sheet was predominately an academy-based side for AFC Wimbledon .This suffered  the game I had been hopping to see as Afc Wimbledon Academy  sought to  play out from the back and build confident young football players who are capable with the ball at there feet . Despite this, Palace u21s dominated the game , coming out 2-0 victors . What I saw from Palace u21s was a great blend of technical ability and physical capabilities . This was also partnered with a great tactical awareness and positive intuition. This would come as a direct consequence of  the unbelieve access these players have to playing pitches , coaches and mentors  .The last game I went to see was Chelsea u23s vs Everton u23s . The game finished 1-1 and the quality on display was immediately obvious . However I expected to see a few players that my eye was immediately drawn to making a clear statement to why there should make the first team in the near future . What I saw was completely the opposite .I understand  why people might question these premier league u23 sides capabilities of winning league 2 . There was a lot of passive play and no real aggression on show  from either side as no player looked to take the game by the scruff of the neck and win the game for there side .

The next place I looked to try and help me answer my question , was the results in the EFl trophy and la Liga 2 , where teams like Barcelona B play amongst second division Spanish sides  . The results for the early rounds of the EFL trophy give little away  . 6 teams are in current position to get out of their group ( out of 14 u21 sides that entered the competition ) . Although  6 teams are in position to head to the next round , these young u23 sides  have struggled winning only 35 percent of there matches . The results I saw from studying Barcelona b time  in la liga 2 was quite confusing . In 2017/2018 , when they were last in the competition , there finished 20th and 22nd the year before that . However the 2 prior seasons they had finished 3nd and 8th respectfully . I put this down to the range in quality you get between age groups at this level . When Barcelona finished higher in the table , they had a squad blessed with  players like Luis Alberto and Rafina . There also had Adama Traore . This contrasted to the side which finished rock bottom who had no one who went on to make a name for themselves  . I also looked at the winners of the la Liga 2 other the past 10 years and not one side was a u23 side .

I have come over  to the conclusion that a side with enough players that would good enough to make the first team later on in their careers ,  could challenge for the title . However the average u23 side would not be able to challenge for the title, partly  because of the style of play most teams play in league 2 and the pressure of getting 3 points every week .