Europa League final preview: Ajax v Manchester United
Ajax: Onana; Veltman, De Ligt, Sánchez, Riedewald; Klaassen, Schöne, Ziyech; Traoré, Dolberg, Younes.
Out: Viergever (suspended), Sinkgraven (knee/fitness)
Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Jones, Blind, Darmian; Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Mkhitaryan.
Out: Bailly (suspended), Shaw (ankle), Ibrahimović (knee), Rojo (knee), Young (hamstring)
Where to watch
Pre-final press conferences
Peter Bosz, Ajax coach
I would send my players directly to the doctor if they weren’t nervous, especially because it’s their first final. It’s completely normal to be nervous, I just have to make sure that the nerves don’t get to them. We have a chance to beat Manchester United if we impose our own game. I know [my players] are young so we have to prepare them. It makes my job more interesting.
José Mourinho, Man. United manager
UEFA accepted a request from Manchester United to cancel their pre-match press conference – originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening – following Monday’s attacks in Manchester. The following is taken from a statement released by the club.
“We’re all very sad about the tragic events of last night; we can’t take out of our minds and hearts the victims and their families. We have a job to do and fly to Sweden to do that job. It’s a pity we cannot fly with the happiness we always have before a big game. I know, even during my short time here, that the people of Manchester will pull together as one.”
No game – Ajax’s last outing came on 14 May when a side with an average age of 20 years and 139 days beat Willem II 3-1 in Tilburg. The Amsterdam giants finished a point behind Eredivisie champions Feyenoord.
Last 10 games (most recent first): WLWWLLWWWW
Man. United 2-0 Crystal Palace (Harrop 15; Pogba 19)
Mourinho rested a raft of key players as United ended their domestic campaign, finishing sixth in the Premier League. The turnover meant debuts for Demetri Mitchell and Josh Harrop – and it proved a dream day for 21-year-old Harrop as he struck the opening goal. Pogba increased the lead and late on Angel Gomes came on to become the first Premier League player born this century.
Last 10 games (most recent first): WLDLWDDWWW
Derek Brookman, Ajax (@UEFAcomDerekB)
Ajax have every reason to feel quietly confident. They’ve claimed some impressive scalps on the road to Stockholm, including Lyon, Schalke and Celta Vigo. The absences of Nick Viergever and Daley Sinkgraven won’t unduly upset the shape of the team. As long as they don’t freeze, there’s no reason why they can’t prevail. Bosz’s young side have played attacking, attractive and often bold football to get to the final; it would be great to see that approach rewarded with a trophy.
Tom Kell, Manchester United (@UEFAcomTomK)
Major trophies are Mourinho’s professional sustenance – his career has reached such heights thanks to the way his teams perform at these moments. United have seldom seized the initiative in their biggest matches this term; will they once again look to contain and counter or will they aim to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and prey on their opponents’ inexperience? Mourinho’s season has been condensed to this one fixture for weeks now – expect a trick or two up his sleeve, expect a detailed tactical plan and, perhaps less predictably, expect a fast start.
Did you know?
- This is the clubs’ fifth meeting in UEFA competitions; the past four produced two wins for either team.
- Ajax’s Bertrand Traoré is on loan with the club from United’s English rivals Chelsea. The Burkina Faso forward made his Chelsea debut under Mourinho in a 4-0 UEFA Champions League group stage victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv in September 2015.
- Mourinho faced Ajax six times as Real Madrid coach, winning all six games by an aggregate score of 20–2.
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