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Europa League Final Preview

Jose Mourunho

Manchester United will prevail in Sweden ensuring Mourinho captures some sort of glory in his first year at United. What may seem like a walkover to many, United is facing an Ajax club that is one of European footballs best kept secrets this year. For all the attention Monaco’s young guns are receiving involving high priced transfer talks this offseason Ajax has a class of players on display now that rival some of the best talent its famed academy has ever brought up through the ranks. Don’t let anyone tell you this is a “walk in the park” final. Before you lay the chalk United’s going off around-130. Take a hard look at what Manchester United has to face under the lights at the Friends Arena in Solna Sweden, Wednesday night. (Kickoff 2:45 PM EST)

Ajax finished second domestically in the Eredivisie league, one point behind FC Copenhagen. Ajax went on to beat FC Copenhagen during the Europa league playoffs. Winning 2-0 at home and losing 2-1 away, advancing on aggregate. Ajax’s star goal scorer is Kasper Dolberg, at 19 years old, his six Europa League goals has him tied for fourth best in this competition. The team's’ number 10 is Davy Klaassen while Bertrand Traore (21) and Amin Younes (23) prove dangerous with four goals apiece in Europa League play. Manchester United’s Sergio Romero leads Europa with seven clean sheets but it’s Ajax’s Andre Onana (21) who’s right behind him with six. Ajax is made up of young talent. Even if they lose the players and most certainly the club stand to win big. The beauty of this game isn’t the American ‘David & Goliath’ story. Ajax is a feeder club with a world renowned developmental academy. The Dutch league stars of today are tomorrow’s hot new international prospects. Ajax has perfected the art of player scouting and development. Reaching the Europa League final in this day in age with so much big money being splashed around across football might just be the clubs crowning achievement. The average salary for an Ajax player is around $300,000 a year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes $300,000 a week. Ajax average age is 22.4 years old. There’s a good chance a few players on Ajax could one day end up playing for Unite. Wednesday’s final is as much a UEFA Final as it is a scouting showcase for the club from Amsterdam. The only update to the Ajax roster ahead of the United game is veteran defender Nick Viergever will miss the match due to his Semifinal Red Card against Lyon.

United are expected to win. The way the papers are penciling in Jose’s return to the Champions league with such imminence. It breeds a cause for concern when you see a Manchester team listed around -130. It has to devastate Zlatan that he can’t take the pitch in Sweden. Other injury concerns for United lie with Chris Smalling and Fellaini while Eric Bailly won’t feature due to his sending off against Celta Vigo. Mourinho’s men have played a lot of football this season. It feels as if coming away empty handed here wouldn’t just crush Jose and company mentally but another season failing to qualify for Champions League competition would squeezed United financially and adversely affect them on the transfer market. Chevrolet pays Manchester United $43 Million dollars to put their logo on the chest.

The Verdict:

Manchester will win but I don’t see it as easy of a time as many are making it out to seem. If United does win within 90 minutes I think it’s a 1-0 affair that sees Marcus Rashford net the game winning brace, first goal. Ajax got through the Europa League group stages undefeated, and in comparing box scores one will find both Ajax and Manchester United played the knockout stages strikingly similar. Each club deployed a strategy comparable to one another’s in terms of how to advance. I think the value in this match is unlocked with the +235 Draw option. 0-0,1-1 after 90 and I can easily see Manchester United winning After Extra Time.

Article by Christian Cianci
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