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Semi-finalist profile: Real Madrid

Published: Monday 21 March 2016, 20.34CET
Real Madrid are back in the semi-finals and in Borja Mayoral have a prolific UEFA Youth League forward who has flanked Cristiano Ronaldo in attack in recent weeks.
Semi-finalist profile: Real Madrid
Will Real Madrid go one better than their semi-final defeat in 2014? ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 21 March 2016, 20.34CET

Semi-finalist profile: Real Madrid

Real Madrid are back in the semi-finals and in Borja Mayoral have a prolific UEFA Youth League forward who has flanked Cristiano Ronaldo in attack in recent weeks.

Real Madrid avenged their 2014 semi-final defeat against Benfica by eliminating the Portuguese side in the last eight to book their place in their second UEFA Youth League final tournament.

With Borja Mayoral, already a member of the senior squad, leading the attack, Santiago Solari's group features a number of players tipped to make the grade at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Goalkeeper Luca Zidane is the son of first-team coach Zinédine and, in addition to his excellent shot-stopping abilities, his distribution from the back shows that he has some of his father's adeptness on the ball. Cristian Cedrés has proven himself to be an attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, while Aleix Febas looks a natural-born leader.

After Madrid finished second in Group A behind Paris Saint-Germain – their semi-final opponents in Nyon on 15 April – two goals from Mayoral and a Febas strike helped the Merengues emerge 3-1 winners in their play-off meeting with Elfsborg.

Watch Borja Mayoral's brilliant strike for Madrid

Mayoral then registered another double to make it seven UEFA Youth League goals this campaign as Manchester City were beaten 3-1 in the round of 16, before the previously undefeated Benfica became their latest victims in the quarter-finals. "The boys showed a lot of maturity," Solari said. "If we play our own game and the way we did against Benfica, we are candidates to win the thing."

Madrid have a rich and proud history of promoting academy products, with seven established members of Zidane's first team coming through Valdebebas. With the likes of Mayoral, Zidane, Febas and Norwegian starlet Martin Ødegaard all tipped for a bright future, the well of talent shows no sign of drying up.

©Getty Images

Madrid's top Youth League scorer: Borja Mayoral

Coach: Santiago Solari
Date of birth: 07/10/76
The former Argentinian international was a decorated midfielder for Madrid between 2000 and 2005 and counts the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and two Liga titles among his trophy haul at the Bernabéu. Solari retired from playing in 2011, but was back at Madrid within two years as part of their academy set-up before being appointed U19 coach earlier this season.

Academy spotlight
Mayoral is the latest academy product turning heads, following hot on the heels of Jesé and Nacho. Raúl González, Guti and Iker Casillas are famous La Fábrica graduates, while Rafael Bénitez and Vicente del Bosque are coaching alumni.

Number: 24
Goals Madrid amassed en route to Nyon, with eight different scorers.

Last updated: 04/04/16 16.06CET

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