The Europa League has been much maligned in recent years as it’s big more illustrious brother with the big ears takes all the attention. This year However, we have a heavyweight clash as Ajax take on Manchester United. The winner also now qualifies for next season’s champions league.
United have had a somewhat difficult season but having already won the league cup they will be desperate to end the season on a high. Especially as winning the Europa League is now a route to the Champions League after they finished 6th in the Premier League this campaign. The Red devils started their journey when they were drawn in group A. They faced Fenerbache, Feyenoord and Zorya Luhansk and finished 2nd to comfortably make it through to the round of 32. They then defeated St Etienne 4-0 on aggregate before facing FC Rostov. A tight tie saw United clinch a quarter final spot 2-1. The quarter finals brought Anderlect as their next opponents. The red devils were again given a tough couple of games, but won the tie 3-2. Onto the Semi Finals and United faced Spaniards Celta Vigo. Despite being given a fright late in the 2nd leg, United reached Stockholm thanks to a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Ajax have certainly underachieved in recent years on a European level and they will want to show the rest of Europe that Dutch football is on the up. They last won a continental trophy back in 1992 and that was this trophy under it’s old name The UEFA Cup. Lancieri started this seasons campaign in group G alongside Celta Vigo, Standard Liege and Panithinaikos. They successfully topped the group. They then beat Legia Warsaw 1-0, FC Copenhagen 3-2, after losing the away leg 2-1, Schalke 4-3 after going down to 10 men, they scored a dramatic 120th minute winner and then defeat Lyon 5-4 on aggregate after a comprehensive 4-1 home 1st leg victory.
United have taken a 23 man squad with Rojo, Young, Ibrahimovic and share injured. Also Baily is suspended. Smalling is facing a fight to be fully fit.
Squad: Romero, De Gea, Pereira, Valencia, Tuanzebe, Fosu-Mensah, Jones, Mitchell, Smalling, Darmian, Blind, Herrera, Carrick, Mkhitaryan, McTominay, Harrop, Martial, Rashford, Rooney
Ajax have Nick Viergiver suspended and Daley Sinkgraven injured, but other than that appear full strength.
Squad: Onana, Boer, Alblas, Tete, Veltman, Sanchez, Westermann, de Ligt, Riedewald, Klaassen, Schone, de Jong, Ziyech, van de Beek, Nouri, Neres, Traore, Younes, Dolberg, Kluivert.
So who will leave victorious?
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