On May 24th, Ajax and Manchester United will meet at the Friends Arena in Stockholm for the Europa League final.
Manchester United essentially have their season riding on this match. They failed to get into the Champions League places after a bitterly disappointing league campaign saw them finish sixth. They did win the EFL Cup, but a loss in this match would see this season end as a failure. Manchester United cannot afford to miss out of the Champions League for three out of four seasons, so this game carries huge importance.
Ajax failed to win the Eredivisie for the third year running after Dirk Kuyt won Feyenoord the league with a hat-trick on the final day. They finished second after falling a point short to Feyenoord, which is good enough to get them into the Champions League, but they’ll need to go through qualifying. Winning this final is the only way Ajax can qualify for the Champions League automatically. It would also be their first European trophy since they won European Super Cup in 1995 after winning the Champions League.
Eric Bailly got himself suspended for the final after he was sent off in the second leg of the semi-final. Along with that, Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luke Shaw, and Ashley Young are out with injuries. Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling are also injury doubts.
Manchester United: Paul Pogba
Manchester United had a very busy summer in 2016, but their signature move was breaking the world transfer record with the purchase of Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has taken a lot of criticism this season, but he’s actually been pretty good. These are the kinds of occasions he was bought for though. Manchester United win trophies, but they’ve never won the Europa League before, not even when it was the UEFA Cup. These are the times where Manchester United want to see Pogba perform and win them games that win them trophies.
Ajax: Kasper Dolberg
Ajax are known for producing young talent and Kasper Dolberg seems to be the next player in the assembly line. The 19 year-old scored 16 league goals in just over 2,000 minutes. Dolberg has shown that he can score goals at all levels and is looking like one of the hottest young talents in Europe. A performance in a European final would only add to that reputation.
Jose Mourinho knows how to win one off games. His teams tend to do pretty well in cup finals and his team has a huge talent advantage in this one. Manchester United should win this match pretty easily.
Prediction: 2-0 Manchester United