The Europa League Final 2017 Preview
May 24, 2017 (No Comments) by Andy Leech

the-europa-league-final-2017-preview

The Europa League was once a competition that was treated with disdain by managers across European football’s biggest leagues. Long journeys, Thursday night matches, and a lack of quality all contributing to the general indifference to the competition.  However, with Champions League qualification as the carrot on the stick, it’s no wonder that we are seeing high profile clubs battle it out at the business end of the competition in the past couple of seasons.

On Wednesday, Manchester United will attempt to clinch a place in next year’s Champions League, when they contest the Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm. The importance of the game cannot be stressed enough, where the outcome will ultimately decide whether José Mourinho’s first season as United boss is a success, or not.

How They Got Here

After a failure to finish in the Champions League places last season, Manchester United entered a group with Feyenoord, Zoyra and Fenerbahçe. Following a shaky start to the competition, they finished off their last group stages matches to ensure qualification to the next round.

The most expensive team in England didn’t exactly light up the Knockout stages on their way to the final, either. But their consistency helped them come through some hairy moments on their way to this showpiece final. United saw off Rostov, Anderlecht and Celta Vigo, with the final two ties producing extremely tense second legs.

how-they-got-here-man-united

Ajax, on the other hand have had an altogether more difficult route to the final. Spellbinding at home, while somewhat lethargic away. Their youthful team has been one of the stories of the European season, while they have also become your cool friend’s favourite team to play with on FIFA.

Having originally qualified for the Champions League, entering the group stage of the Europa League was initially a disappointment for the Dutch side. After progressing with minimum fuss from a group with Panathinaikos, Standard Liege and Celta Vigo, they began mixing the brilliant with the average. In fact, Ajax didn’t once win away from home in the knockout stages of this year’s competition.

how-they-got-here-ajax

A turning point came when they defeated Schalke on penalties, all the while being down to ten men and a goal down with less than ten minutes of extra time remaining. Despite being the underdogs in the semi-final, Ajax’s brilliant 4-1 home performance against Lyon was enough to see them through, even after losing 3-1 in the return fixture.

Players To Watch

Luckily for the neutral, this match will feature lots of world class talent. While their domestic league position tells its own tale, there is no doubt that Manchester United possess exciting players. They will look towards Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and the world’s most expensive player, Paul Pogba, to fire them to glory. They also have one of the best goalkeepers on the planet in David de Gea.

man-united-players

Ajax have an incredibly youthful look to their team, with seven starters from the first leg of the semi-final aged twenty-one or under. Ajax will hope that Hakim Ziyech and captain Davy Klaassen can chip in with assists and goals from midfield to outgun the Manchester club. Striker Kasper Dolberg will be hoping he can break down a mean Man United defence and power his side to glory.

ajax-players

José Mourinho

There is no doubting how crucial this match is to José Mourinho. Not only is it by far the most important game of his Manchester United career so far, it might even be one of the biggest matches of his entire career. If Manchester United fail to qualify for the Champions League, this season will have been a disaster, and I don’t think there are many fans of the biggest club in England that will dispute this fact.

Yes, he already has the EFL Cup in the bag. But a sixth place finish, with no Champions League football to look forward to, is not what those associated with the great club have come to expect. Especially when one takes into account how much money was spent on this squad of players.

José Mourinho effectively gave up on the race for top four weeks ago, by resting players and bemoaning the fixtures schedule. After a disastrous final season at Chelsea, another failure this season could be detrimental to his reputation, especially when younger managers such as Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Jürgen Klopp are achieving results with attacking and expansive football, something Mourihno’s sides wouldn’t be known for.

jose-mourinho

When José Mourinho takes his place in the dugout on Wednesday night, he will know that the result of this game will have much wider implications than who gets to bring home the piece of silver at the end of the night. Should they win, this season under Mourinho will be looked upon as a success. A step in the right direction that will make Manchester United fans believe they can challenge for top honors again in the not so distant future.

Should they lose, Mourinho is just another manager struggling to breath in the inhabitable and hostile environment that is the shadow of Sir Alex Fergusson.

Final Verdict – Manchester United

Andy Leech
Writes about sport and the general idiocy of the human race. Once read a George Orwell book and now understands life.

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The Europa League Final 2017 Preview
May 24, 2017 (No Comments) by Andy Leech

the-europa-league-final-2017-preview

The Europa League was once a competition that was treated with disdain by managers across European football’s biggest leagues. Long journeys, Thursday night matches, and a lack of quality all contributing to the general indifference to the competition.  However, with Champions League qualification as the carrot on the stick, it’s no wonder that we are seeing high profile clubs battle it out at the business end of the competition in the past couple of seasons.

On Wednesday, Manchester United will attempt to clinch a place in next year’s Champions League, when they contest the Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm. The importance of the game cannot be stressed enough, where the outcome will ultimately decide whether José Mourinho’s first season as United boss is a success, or not.

How They Got Here

After a failure to finish in the Champions League places last season, Manchester United entered a group with Feyenoord, Zoyra and Fenerbahçe. Following a shaky start to the competition, they finished off their last group stages matches to ensure qualification to the next round.

The most expensive team in England didn’t exactly light up the Knockout stages on their way to the final, either. But their consistency helped them come through some hairy moments on their way to this showpiece final. United saw off Rostov, Anderlecht and Celta Vigo, with the final two ties producing extremely tense second legs.

how-they-got-here-man-united

Ajax, on the other hand have had an altogether more difficult route to the final. Spellbinding at home, while somewhat lethargic away. Their youthful team has been one of the stories of the European season, while they have also become your cool friend’s favourite team to play with on FIFA.

Having originally qualified for the Champions League, entering the group stage of the Europa League was initially a disappointment for the Dutch side. After progressing with minimum fuss from a group with Panathinaikos, Standard Liege and Celta Vigo, they began mixing the brilliant with the average. In fact, Ajax didn’t once win away from home in the knockout stages of this year’s competition.

how-they-got-here-ajax

A turning point came when they defeated Schalke on penalties, all the while being down to ten men and a goal down with less than ten minutes of extra time remaining. Despite being the underdogs in the semi-final, Ajax’s brilliant 4-1 home performance against Lyon was enough to see them through, even after losing 3-1 in the return fixture.

Players To Watch

Luckily for the neutral, this match will feature lots of world class talent. While their domestic league position tells its own tale, there is no doubt that Manchester United possess exciting players. They will look towards Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and the world’s most expensive player, Paul Pogba, to fire them to glory. They also have one of the best goalkeepers on the planet in David de Gea.

man-united-players

Ajax have an incredibly youthful look to their team, with seven starters from the first leg of the semi-final aged twenty-one or under. Ajax will hope that Hakim Ziyech and captain Davy Klaassen can chip in with assists and goals from midfield to outgun the Manchester club. Striker Kasper Dolberg will be hoping he can break down a mean Man United defence and power his side to glory.

ajax-players

José Mourinho

There is no doubting how crucial this match is to José Mourinho. Not only is it by far the most important game of his Manchester United career so far, it might even be one of the biggest matches of his entire career. If Manchester United fail to qualify for the Champions League, this season will have been a disaster, and I don’t think there are many fans of the biggest club in England that will dispute this fact.

Yes, he already has the EFL Cup in the bag. But a sixth place finish, with no Champions League football to look forward to, is not what those associated with the great club have come to expect. Especially when one takes into account how much money was spent on this squad of players.

José Mourinho effectively gave up on the race for top four weeks ago, by resting players and bemoaning the fixtures schedule. After a disastrous final season at Chelsea, another failure this season could be detrimental to his reputation, especially when younger managers such as Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Jürgen Klopp are achieving results with attacking and expansive football, something Mourihno’s sides wouldn’t be known for.

jose-mourinho

When José Mourinho takes his place in the dugout on Wednesday night, he will know that the result of this game will have much wider implications than who gets to bring home the piece of silver at the end of the night. Should they win, this season under Mourinho will be looked upon as a success. A step in the right direction that will make Manchester United fans believe they can challenge for top honors again in the not so distant future.

Should they lose, Mourinho is just another manager struggling to breath in the inhabitable and hostile environment that is the shadow of Sir Alex Fergusson.

Final Verdict – Manchester United

Andy Leech
Writes about sport and the general idiocy of the human race. Once read a George Orwell book and now understands life.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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