Preview: Jose Mourinho to guide United to glory in Stockholm, for Manchester


Ajax -v- Manchester United

Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden

UEFA Europa League Final 2016/17

Wednesday 24th May 2017; KO 19:45 BST

Live on BT Sports 1HD

The end of the season is here for Manchester United and this is the biggest match post-Sir Alex Ferguson; the UEFA Europa League final against Dutch side Ajax. United finished sixth in the Premier League this season, meaning they have only qualified for the Europa League, through winning the EFL Cup. To earn a UEFA Champions League place, United will need to lift the cup in Sweden on Wednesday. United have been unlucky with injury this season, losing both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo with serious knee injuries against Anderlecht at Old Trafford in the quarter-final stage of the competition, which was a big loss, but United seem to have done well, this far at least, without the pair. The excitement which was gathering from this match have been snuffed out of my today after the horrific terrorist attack at Manchester Arena on Monday evening which has claimed the lives of at least 22 people, some of which are children. There are still people missing and 59 others in hospital which puts things into perspective. This is life and football is merely a game, no disrespect to anyone, but this hits home.

Jose Mourinho declined to have his pre-match press conference on Tuesday evening on Sweden with UEFA allowing that. Instead, the manager gave a brief statement of the feeling and the mentality within his team as they headed off to the Swedish capital for their clash with Ajax on Wednesday night. Mourinho said:

“We are all very sad about the tragic events last night; we cannot take out of our minds and our hearts the victims and their families.

“We have a job to do and we will fly to Sweden to do that job. It is a pity we cannot fly with the happiness that 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.”

Manchester United will mourn the victims of the terrorist atrocity in their city, which will give them the hunger in their bellies to go out and do the business on Wednesday evening, bringing that trophy back to the city of Manchester, dedicating it to the city. Football is great, but life is more important. United will have a reason to get the job done, something to work for, an aim to meet. Bring that trophy home, boys!

Both Ajax and United have tough roads to the UEFA Europa League final, you can read more about them by clicking on the links (on each team name). Each team has been scouted ahead of the final with many questions answered, you can read them here; United; Ajax. We have also talked about United’s participation in other European finals, most recently not all that good for United, but you can go back in time by reading the article here. You can also read our other pre-match articles; Key Battles, Four Players to Watch and the Starting XI Prediction.

Match Officials:

Damir Skomina will official the UEFA Europa League final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm on Wednesday evening. The assistant referees have been named as Jure Praprotnik and Robert Vukan, whilst the additional assistant referees will be Matej Jug and Slavko Vinčić. The fourth official has been named as Gianluca Rocchi.

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Ajax this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 4 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Josh Harrop, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Ajax: 23 – Kasper Dolberg, 20 – Davy Klaassen, 13 – Bertrand Traore, 9 – Hakim Ziyech, 7 – Amin Younes, 6 – Davinson Sanchez, Lasse Schone, 4 – Nick Viergever, 3 – David Neres, 2 – Nemanja Gudelj, Justin Kluivert, 2 – Matthijs de Ligt, 1 – Mateo Casierra, Frenkie de Jong, Daley Sinkgraven

Team News:

Manchester United will be without a quartet of players with Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw all on the sidelines. Jose Mourinho recently confirmed that all players will travel to Sweden for the match, even the ones on crutches. Zlatan recently posted a video of him in a swimming pool in a United training kit, suggesting he was ready for the final, which many misinterpreted as he would play. It would be highly unlikely, but imagine if it happened, not that it will. Other than this, United have a pretty strong side which have travelled out to Sweden for the final. Eric Bailly, who was sent off in the semi-final second leg, will miss the final, and he will be a big loss for United, who will be frail at the back without him. Ajax have a fully fit squad for the final

Previous Meetings: Four previous competitive matches; two wins and two defeats; United progressed both ties on aggregate

Manchester United and Ajax have met four times in the history of both clubs, both in the same competition or at least for the same trophy. United faced the Dutch side in the UEFA Cup back in 1976, losing 1-0 away on the 15th September 1976, winning 2-0 in the home leg a fortnight later. Sammy McIlroy and Lou Macari were the players to put United through to the next round of the UEFA Cup that season. United then met Ajax 36 years later in the UEFA Europa League, after United were ejected from the Champions League group stages under Sir Alex Ferguson. United beat Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena on the 16th February 2012 2-0 with Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez scoring the goals. At Old Trafford a week later, United were defeated 2-1 with Hernandez scoring the only goal for United, with the Red Devils winning 3-2 on aggregate. This will be the fifth competitive meeting between the two sides.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Ajax?

Predicted Score:

Ajax 1-2 Manchester United

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copyright: JW

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