Ajax v Manchester United: Europa League Final Preview
Mkhitaryan has struggled to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League for most of the season, but the Europa League has been a different story for the Armenian. He flourishes against teams from the continent, and his five goals from nine appearances puts him among Manchester United’s biggest threats.
Kasper Dolberg and Bertard Traore are terrific attackers, but Amin Younes could be the most dangerous of Ajax’s front three. The Lebanese winger loves to cut inside onto his favoured right foot, and can finish when he does. With Antonio Valencia being the more attacking of Manchester United’s wing-backs, Younes could find space to utilise his terrific dribbling skills.
Carrick will most likely be captaining José Mourinho’s side, and his experience will be as important as his skill on the day. Due to injuries and suspensions, the Red Devils will be fielding an unfamiliar back four. Carrick will be organising the team’s defensive shape, as well as initiating attacks with his passing and vision.
What to watch for
Ajax will need to switch the point of attack frequently. This will draw defenders out of position, ultimately creating space for their talented wingers. In a team full of one-on-one threats, they will look to exploit Daley Blind’s lack of pace. Against a Mourinho system, Ajax will thrive with speed, movement and being clinical with their chances.
Manchester United have struggled to score all season long and Wednesday’s final will be more of the same. They have a habit of dominating possession and creating opportunities but failing to convert them, so the best chance of a breakthrough lies through the counter-attack. The back line of Ajax is talented but very young, with not much experience in big games among them. As a result, Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba should be able to play decisive passes to get Rashford and Lingard in on goal.