Manchester United face off against Ajax tonight in the Europa League final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, in a match that will surely define the Red Devil’s first season with Jose Mourinho in charge. Will their season be defined as a success or a failure? Well, all of that is currently riding on just this one match against the runners-up of this season’s and last season’s Eredivisie in Holland, Ajax, who have a history of providing the world with some of the best young talents throughout the ages, not to mention that they probably have one of the most renowned youth Academy’s in the whole world of football.
So, it’s going to be a very tough match indeed and a lot of money is on the line, plus, whoever lifts the Europa League trophy gets the obvious silverware , but the winner also gets the coveted place in next year’s Champions League automatically, as a result. This applies more so to Manchester United, since they finished 6th in the Premier League, whilst Ajax finished 2nd yet again this year, trailing Feyenord.
Yesterday, Manchester United held a minute’s silence during a training session to honour the victims of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack during an Ariana Grande concert and Jose Mourinho cancelled a press conference ahead of the Final match, as a result.
On the weekend, Jose Mourinho, a man who hardly ever plays the youngsters, shrewdly decided to rest a number of his key players ahead of tonight’s final match, by fielding a young team against Crystal Palace and they still won 2-0 at Old Trafford, which saw a goal from Josh Harrop, plus appearances by Axel Tuanzebe, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Scott McTominay, with Paul Pogba also getting on the score sheet for good measure, here’s that goal.
A successful decision by Jose Mourinho and everyone now wonders who he will field in the Europa League final against Ajax, sans the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, of course. Let’s take a look at the squad now and predict the line up, shall we?
4-3-2-1 Man U – Predicted Line Up:
Goalkeeper: S. Romero
Defenders: M.Darmian, D. Blind, P. Jones, A.Valencia
Midfielders: A. Herrera, M. Carrick, P. Pogba
Attackers: J. Lingard, M. Rashford, H. Mkhitaryan
So, with C. Smalling and M. Fellaini still coming back from some niggling injuries to full fitness, they are most likely set to start on the bench, and one thing is clear, the experience of Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be sorely missed, but hopes are on the young striker Marcus Rashford to capitalise on his chance in this most important of matches for Manchester United in many years.
If Manchester United win, it will be the first time that they ever win the Europa League trophy and let’s hope that they do and no doubt Zlatan will be joining them in collecting the trophy after scoring a staggering 28 goals for the club this season in all competitions.
However, Ajax are a very strong young team and have lots of pace and abundance of technical ability, which could cause an upset in Stockholm on Wednesday night, with players such as Bertrand Traore up front, and with creative player Hakim Ziyech in midfield, plus Nick Viergever in Defence, so the trophy isn’t in the bag already, by any means.
Some say that the Europa League plays second fiddle to competitions like the Champions League, but with such an exciting final match lined up for Wednesday night and with so much on the line, this could most definitely be considered as a World Cup final, of sorts, if you weigh up what’s really at stake tonight!
We will no doubt be watching and let’s hope that Manchester United can play their hearts out and also win the trophy, not only for themselves, but also for the whole city of Manchester, given the terrible and barbaric terror attack that happened on Monday night at Manchester Arena.
Despite the atrocity, Manchester United have to remain fully focused on the match ahead and ensure that they win and qualify for next year’s Champions League, which could even see players such as Antoine Griezmann joining them for the 2017/2018 season, starting in August. We stand with the Red Devils. Come on England!
Brainstain, over and out!
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Featured Photo Credit: 101Goals