Ajax vs Man United preview: Two European giants clash in Europa League final

Manchester United travel to Stockholm to take on Ajax in the final of the Europa League at the Friends Arena.

The fate of José Mourinho's first season at Old Trafford is at stake in Sweden, as victory would secure a place in the group stages of the Champions League  next season.

A win in the final would also secure United's third trophy of the season, albeit one being the Community Shield, comfortably their best return since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The match also takes on a level of importance outside of football, as it follows on just two days after the devastating terrorist attack on Manchester.

Form

The Red Devils have stumbled towards the final, winning just two of their last eight games as they shifted their priorities clearly towards the Stockholm final.

Defeats away at Tottenham and Arsenal were the Red Devils' first in the league since October, as several first-team regulars sat out the trips to North London.

A rejuvenating win over Crystal Palace featured many first-team debuts for promising youth talents, with Josh Harrop winning Man of the Match for his fine performance and goal.

The Red Devils haven't lost in the Europa League since early November, away at Fenerbahce, a run that stretches 10 games including seven wins.

Opposition

Ajax missed out on the Eredivisie title by a solitary point to rivals Feyenoord.

However, Peter Bosz' side have impressed in the Europa League knockout stages, scoring nine goals in their last four games.

The Dutch side have been praised for their youthful approach, with several of their first-team players being youth academy graduates and the average age of their starting XI generally not breaching 22.

Ajax are without a win in their last six European games away from Amsterdam. However, they've been dominant at the soon to be Johan Cruyff Arena.

Team News

Paul Pogba returned to the starting 11 against Palace on Sunday, registering a goal and an assist before being substituted prior to half time.

Eric Bailly will miss the final after he was sent off in the semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo at the Theatre of Dreams.

Jesse Lingard was also substituted before the first 45 minutes were up, indicating he will start in Stockholm, also.

In-form striker Marcus Rashford has been the spearhead of United's charge to the final and will take up that mantle once more, at the expense of captain Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial. 

Chris Smalling is expected to start alongside the rested Daley Blind for the final, with Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian both sitting out recent fixtures, as well.

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