Can Manchester United finish their European campaign on a high by winning the Europa League? They meet Ajax on Wednesday night aiming to lift a trophy they’ve never won, while also hoping to secure a backdoor entrance into the Champions League next term. Sitting sixth in the Premier League, this is United’s only chance to return to the top tier of European football. Can they get over the line in Stockholm, or will they be stopped by an impressive young Ajax side?
The Dutch side are outsiders ahead of the final, but they’ve more than earned their spot in the showpiece clash. Ajax have put together a talented side which is capable of blowing away some of Europe’s biggest names, and that’s earned them a first European final in 21 years. While they were Champions League contenders in the past, their current financial situation means that the men from Amsterdam are better placed to push for the Europa League.
Of course, it’s not like this tie is a level playing field for Ajax either. Their current side cost about half of the agent fee for Paul Pogba’s £89 million transfer last summer. The Red Devils have spent more on players in the previous three seasons than the Dutch side have spent since the second World War. Their £13.7m record fee has been beaten by United on 33 occasions. There’s clearly a massive gulf between these two sides.
Ajax v Manchester United predictions
Ajax to lift the trophy (7/4 with Sky Bet)
Despite the difference in spending power, Ajax still have a great chance here. European know how has been paramount in continental competition of late, and it’s frequently troubled English sides. Even Monaco’s young side adjusted quicker to European demands than Tottenham or Manchester City. Ajax could do the same, although they don’t exactly have much variation in their play. The Dutch side are an attack-minded bunch.
However, Ajax have come out fighting in their previous two rounds, striking early to take first leg leads against Lyon and Schalke. If they do the same here, they could shellshock United. One thing which isn’t being talked about is the fact that the Dutch side troubled Celta Vigo home and away in this competition, something United struggled to do. We think Peter Bosz and his team are going to shock a few people here, so it’s worth backing them to lift the trophy at 7/4 with Sky Bet.
Over 1.5 Ajax goals (31/10 with BetVictor)
Ajax are a high scoring side, as their nature is to attack. While that’s going to provide an interesting parallel with United, they should provide us with some entertaining moments. Heavy wins at home to Lyon and Schalke – plus late extra time heroics away to the German side – prove that the Dutch side have enough attacking talent to cause an upset here.
Ajax managed to rack up 79 goals in the league this season, and they’ve been just as attacking in Europe. As long as they can shake off the problems they’ve had away to European sides, we can see the Eredivisie outfit getting among the goals on Wednesday night. Despite their high scoring nature, Ajax are 31/10 with BetVictor to score over 1.5 goals, which looks like fantastic value.