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AJAX VS MANCHESTER UNITED

Jose Mourinho has the chance to etch his name into Manchester United folklore on Wednesday in Stockholm, as the Red Devils face Dutch giants Ajax in the UEFA Europa League final.

While managers like Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson led United to a remarkable amount of success during their time in the Old Trafford hotseat, they never got their hands on this illustrious prize. Mourinho would be the first manager in the club’s history to lift this trophy.

However, standing between the Premier League side and the silverware is a brilliant Ajax outfit. The youthful Eredivisie team have enthralled on their way to this showpiece, playing fearless and effective football.

Here are the key viewing details ahead of Wednesday’s contest, the latest team news for each side and a look ahead to how this final is likely to pan out.

Date: Wednesday, May 24 

Time: 8:45 p.m. (Local) 7:45 p.m. (BST), 2:45 p.m. (ET)

TV Info: BT Sport (UK), FOX Sports (U.S.)

Live Stream: BT Sport website (UK), FOX Soccer 2GO (U.S.)

Team News

AjaxImage result for Ajax vs Manchester United live

As relayed by Sky Sports, after being absent since April, left-back Daley Sinkgraven has returned to training, although he’s unlikely to be fit enough to start. Manager Peter Bosz will also be without Nick Viergever, who is suspended for the final.

Likely XI: Andre Onana; Joel Veltman, Davinson Sanchez, Matthijs de Ligt, Jairo Redialled; Lasse Schone, Davy Klaassen, Hakim Ziyech; Bertrand Traore, Kasper Dolberg, Amin Younes


Manchester United :Per Joe Mewis of the Daily Mirror, the Red Devils will be without Eric Bailly after he picked up a red card in the second leg of their semi-final against Celta Vigo. Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling, meanwhile, are expected to be fit despite recent injury problems. Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo are all out.

Likely XI: Sergio Romero; Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian; Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba; Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard

JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/Getty Images

For Manchester United, there has been plenty of talk about how crucial qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League would be, something Europa League success would guarantee. But supporters making their way to Stockholm won’t be thinking about that.

The Red Devils faithful will want to see their side lift a second trophy to cap off the 2016-17 season, having already won the League Cup. 

The Europa League campaign has been a memorable one for United, too, and in the semi-final, Rashford emerged as the team’s talisman with goals in both games against Celta. As we can see, the young forward has relished the latter stages of the competition:

It’s remarkable that Rashford has competition as the best young prospect on the pitch on Wednesday, as Ajax are a side bursting with youthful exuberance.

From back to front, the team is full of prodigious stars, with starting centre-backs Sanchez and De Ligt just 20 and 17, respectively. It’s up top where the Amsterdam outfit have stood out, though, with Younes and Traore expertly flanking Dolberg.

It’s the latter of that trio who has caught the eye this season, leading the line with a maturity and physicality which belies his youth. Per Squawka Football, he’s had a consistent impact in the final third:

The pattern of this game will be fascinating. Despite being second favourites, Ajax will likely have a lot of the ball, will push men forward and seek to test out what will potentially be a makeshift United defence.

Still, for many of the Ajax starlets, this will be the biggest game of their lives. The pressure that’ll bring may bolden them, although there’s also a potential for these youngsters to freeze on the big stage.

United, by contrast, have plenty of players who have sampled these occasions previously. Per Sky Sports Statto, they also have a manager who knows how to get through these games:

You sense that extra bit of nous will swing this one United’s way. While they may find it difficult to tame Ajax’s attacking flair, in the key moments it’s the Premier League side who are more likely to make the smartest decisions.

Mourinho said after winning the 2015 League Cup with Chelsea that “finals are not for playing, they are for winning.” That’s what United will do here.

Prediction: Ajax 1-2 Manchester United

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