The Europa League final promises to provide the thrills and spills when a young Ajax side take on Manchester United in Stockholm on Wednesday night.
The 50,000-seated Friends Arena has been Sweden’s national ground over the years, but the fans will have no sight of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his home turf after he sustained a season-ending injury versus Anderlecht earlier in the competition.
On paper, United will be deemed favourites to achieve their first-ever success in the Europa League, but their form has been patchy of late, having just scrapped through against Celta Vigo in the previous round.
The Spanish minnows managed to maintain 62 percent possession in the semi-final second leg at Old Trafford, but United just about clung on to a 2-1 aggregate win after former Manchester City graduate John Guidetti missed a clear chance to put Celta through on away goals.
On the other hand, Ajax had a see-saw ride in their outing versus Lyon in the semi-finals as they won their first leg by a convincing three-goal margin (4-1 win) only to face extreme pressure from Les Gones in the reverse fixture.
The Eredivisie runners-up grabbed a key away goal in the 3-1 defeat in France, and this ensured that they qualified via a 4-5 aggregate scoreline despite a late push from Lyon to settle the scores.
Players to watch for:
Paul Pogba (Manchester United):
The France international was fairly emotional on the final day of the league campaign as he notched a goal and an assist in the memory of his late father, who expired earlier in the month.
He will surely want to make a key impression for the Red Devils after his compassionate leave as he still has to bear the burden of being the world’s most expensive player.
Davy Klaassen (Ajax):
The talismanic captain has notched 20 goals for the Dutch giants this term. As a result, the attacking midfielder has already attracted plenty of Premier League interest with Everton among the key admirers.
Regardless of this, the Netherlands international will want to end his season on a high after having established himself as a favourite with the Amsterdam faithful.
Image – EPA