One of the 2016/17 football season’s exiting prospect kick-off at Friends Arena in Stockholm when Ajax and Manchester United lock horns for European glory on Wednesday night.
Ajax are looking to their 22 year old trophy drought in Europe. Their last title was in 1995, when they defeated AC Milan 1-0 in the Champions League final. This is Ajax’s 15th appearance in a UEFA competitions final, they won 10 and lost 4 during the process.
Manchester United area a desperate to win the trophy after missing out on a top four finish in the English Premier League. Nonetheless, Europa League/UEFA Cup is one of the trophies missing from their cabinet. United have so far appeared in 11 UEFA finals to date. Their record is 6 wins and 5 losses.
The United last appeared in a continental final during 2010/11 Champions League season and were duly thrashed by a rampant Barcelona 3-1. Their last trophy was in 2007/08, when they defeated domestic rivals Chelsea on penalties.
Ajax FC: Team News
The Dutch side will be without the suspended center defender Nick Viergever for the final at Stockholm.
Otherwise, Peter Bosz has a fully fit squad at his disposal and we can expect a familiar starting eleven in the cup final.
Ajax: Predicted Starting Eleven (4-3-3)
Onana – Sinkgraven, Light, Sanchez, Veltman – Ziyech, Schone, Klaassen – Younes, Dolberg, Traore.
Manchester United: Team News
The biggest absentee for Jose Mourinho is his talisman striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Meantime, there is a mini crisis in defense as Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are all sidelined with injuries. While the towering stopper Eric Bailly will miss the final due to suspension.
That’s not all, Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini are deemed short in fitness and will go through a late assessment to see if they can last the full ninety minutes.
It remained to be seen if Romero keeps his place in the starting line-up instead of David De Gea in this all important final.
Manchester United: Predicted Starting Eleven (4-3-3)
De Gea – Darmian, Blind, Jones, Valencia – Pogba, Herrera, Carrick – Mkhitaryan, Lingard, Rashford.
Ajax vs Manchester United: Head-to-head stats
The teams had previously met on four occasions and they share 2 wins each.
The first meeting was in 1976 UEFA Cup, Ajax won their home fixture 1-0 and lost away at Manchester by 2-0.
The most recent duel was in first knockout round of the 2011/12 edition of the Europa League. United took a 2-0 win in the first leg at Amsterdam, but lost the return leg at Old Trafford by a 1-2 margin.
The Dutch side Ajax and Manchester United are meeting for the first time in a UEFA Final. Neither did they met an club from opponent’s country in the penultimate match of the competitions.
Ajax vs Manchester United: Prediction
One can put this plain and simple that this tie is a duel between the exciting young attacking talent of Ajax versus the stubborn defensive unit of Manchester United. It is a very clear that experience matters in these kind of games and therefore United have a slighter edge in this cup final. But, Ajax are no pushovers and one must expect some fierce battles in the middle of the part.
My primary pick for this fixture will be both teams to score. I cannot overlook the abundance of attacking talent in both units and believe this will be a feast for neutrals.
Source: Aron Wright, leaguelane.com