Stockholm will host the 2017 Europa League final between Manchester United and Ajax in what promises to be a fascinating encounter.
The English giants go into the tie as favourites and will be looking to secure passage to the Champions League after finishing sixth in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho has already lifted the EFL Cup this season and will be looking to add the Europa League to the Red Devil’s trophy cabinet – one trophy the club has never won.Embed from Getty Images
The Champions League is hugely important for United who could miss out on an estimated £70m if they fail to qualify for Europe’s elite competition.
Despite finishing second in the Eredivisie, Ajax have been one of the best teams to watch in the Europa League this season; knocking out the likes of Schalke and Lyon on their way to the final.
But their form in the competition has been indifferent – they have lost three of their last six matches making their journey to the final all the more unbelievable.
The Dutch side is full of exciting young talent that will have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders if they are to get a result against the experienced United side.Embed from Getty Images
The likes of Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick have featured in Champions League finals in the past and Mourinho will be looking to his senior squad members to take centre stage in Sweden.
Sergio Romero is expected to keep his place in between the sticks, and the Red Devils will be without Ivorian defender Eric Bailly due to suspension after he was red-carded in the semi-final clash with Celta Vigo.
Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini remain as doubts after picking up small muscular problems.
There is also speculation that Paul Pogba picked up an injury after scoring against Crystal Palace and was replaced at half-time. Nevertheless, the world’s most expensive player is expected to feature against Ajax.Embed from Getty Images
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic still out injured, it is likely Marcus Rashford will lead the line for United.
Ajax manager Peter Bosz has just one player unavailable for the final.Embed from Getty Images
Nick Viergever was sent off in the semi-final second leg against Lyon and is missing through suspension.
Apart from the experienced defender, Ajax are at full strength meaning the likes of Kasper Dolberg and Bertrand Traore are expected to start.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
Romero; Valencia, Jones, Blind, Darmian; Pogba, Carrick, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lingard
Onana; Veltman, Sanchez, De Ligt, Sinkgraven; Ziyech, Schone, Klaassen; Younes, Dolberg, Traore
It will be the fifth time in the Europe that the two sides have met with the current record tied at two wins a piece.
Ajax’s youngsters have done fantastic to reach the final but beating a team of United’s quality will prove incredibly difficult.
It should be an extremely tight contest, and it’s hard to predict how European finals will play out.Embed from Getty Images
However, given the strength of United’s squad compared to their opponents, you can’t overlook the Red Devils.
If Mourinho can nullify the threat of their attackers, United have players capable of breaking down a youthful Ajax defence.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Ajax