The Unlikely Battle: Manchester United vs Ajax Amsterdam: Europa League 2017 Final Preview
Once mocking Rafa Benitez for winning the Europa League, Jose Mourinho will be facing Ajax`s spirited team on Wednesday 24 May
The final in Stockholm will see Jose Mourinho fighting for an unlikely trophy as he once mocked Rafa Benitez for winning the competition with Chelsea in 2013. Things change fast and the Portuguese will be trying to win the trophy to save the season for Manchester United, just a few years later.
But the road to the final was not easy for the teams. Manchester United had to resist Celta Vigo`s attempts while Ajax managed to stay afloat with Lyon in a very difficult match.
The battle of the managers
Jose Morinho is facing huge pressure from United`s fans who are still looking for the next Alex Ferguson. The club is not performing at its best but the Portuguese has some strong points which might give his team the advantage in the final. First of all, he is used to playing at this level and he is, arguably, one of the best managers in the world.
Many consider that United`s defense, which is one of the best in this years` Premier League season might show its full strength with the famous counter-attacking style Jose Mourinho is associated with. Even more, the manager could be aiming at an automatic Champions League position if his team manages to win the trophy.
Ajax`s coach, Peter Bosz is not facing such international interest. The Dutch coach, previously at Vitesse and Heracles, can become a legend for the team as he is close to bringing the glory days back to Amsterdam. But then there is the feeling that everything is planned at Ajax, as the coach has a full staff of legends behind him.
Former club legend Edwin van der Sar is the marketing director and Marc Overmars is the technical director. Former legend Patrick Kluivert is also linked to the club while his son, Justin, made his debut for Ajax`s first team this season. Could the glory days return to Amsterdam? It remains to be seen if a win against United can bring back the true spirit of the club at international level.
Manchester United vs Ajax Amsterdam lineups
The much anticipated return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic will probably not take place as the Swede is out with a knee injury. It would have been a game against one of the teams he played for. United can also suffer with the absence of Daley Blind, as Mourinho admitted. The player might not be fit for the final in Sweden.
Ajax will have high hopes with Kasper Dolberg as the player managed to score six times in 12 games in this season of Europa League.
The financial battle
There is a complicated story behind the news that Manchester United might lose £50m if Ajax with the UEL. The club would see the second season without any Champions League participation which would attract an automatic penalty from one of their sponsors.
Adidas would trigger a £21m penalty and if this is not enough, United could also lose up to £30m simply by not taking part in the group stages of the competition. However, the teams will still gain significant amounts from the Europa League final. The winning team will receive £6.5m from UEFA while the losing team will still receive £3.5m.
The compact Friends Arena in Stockholm is the chosen stadium for the final. It has a capacity of just over 48.000 seats which means both Manchester United and Ajax will receive 10.000 tickets for the traveling fans. 17.000 tickets have been made available to other fans and have been quickly sold out. The UK media is estimating nearly 10.000 tickets have been given to sponsors and guests.
Where to watch the Europa League Final
In the UK: BT Sport2, BT Sport Showcase, BT Sport App, Youtube
- The winning team will receive the UEFA Europa League cup which was designed by GDE Bertoni. The Italian also designed the modern World Cup
- The winning team will enter next years` UEFA Champions League
The Europa League final between Manchester United and Ajax Amsterdam will take place Wednesday, May 24, 19:45 BST, 14:45 ET