Sunday 20 August 2017

Man United vs Ajax: What time and what channel? Everything you need to know about the Europa League final

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 23: In this handout image provided by UEFA, Juan Mata of Manchester United and David De Gea of Manchester United arrive ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on May 23, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 23: In this handout image provided by UEFA, Juan Mata of Manchester United and David De Gea of Manchester United arrive ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on May 23, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)

Kevin Paler

Manchester United will look to finish their turbulent campaign on a high with victory against Ajax in the Europa League final tonight, with qualification for next season’s Champions League worth just as much as the trophy up for grabs.

Here is an Independent.ie guide to everything you need to know ahead of a game that has the potential to be crucial to United’s short and long term future.

Where is it on?

Friends Arena in Stockholm, with a 7.45pm kick-off.

Where can the match be seen?

TV3 will have full live coverage from Sweden, while BT Sport are streaming the match for free on their official YouTube channel.

What are the odds?

Manchester United 2/5

Ajax 2/1

What do we know about Ajax?

Peter Bosz’s young Ajax team finished second behind Feyenoord in the Dutch title race this season, yet they have been compared to Louis van Gaal’s legendary Ajax side from the 1994/95 season that finished the season with European glory.

A youthful Ajax side featuring rising stars Edwin van der Sar, Frank de Boer, Marc Overmars and Patrick Kluivert went through the entire Dutch season unbeaten before beating mighty AC Milan in the European Cup final.

Van Gaal’s team was loaded with youthful performers and the average age of the Ajax side picked for some games this season has been as low as 20 for many games, with a clutch of gifted teenagers emerging as key players in their set-up.

Who are Ajax’s key players?

Teenage Danish forward Kasper Dolberg is being linked with United and several top clubs after his free-scoring season with Ajax, while defender Joel Veltman and playmaker Davy Klaassen are rumoured to be on Tottenham’s wanted list.

Justin Kluivert - the 18-year-old son of Ajax and Holland legend Patrick - has been making plenty of headlines in the build-up to this final against United, Colombian centre-back Davinson Sanchez impressing at the heart of the Ajax defence amid transfer links with Chelsea and Barcelona.

Also look out for the in-form Bertrand Traore, who is on loan at Ajax from Chelsea.

What they say:

Ajax boss Peter Bosz: “We can only beat Manchester United if we play our way of playing. I call it the Ajax way of playing. If we don’t play our way then we have no chance.

“We have a tradition and players through the club that the players can look up to; great players from the 90s, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and Edwin van der Sar. The players are educated in the Ajax way and we must stick to that.

“Ever since we beat Lyon in the semi-finals final we have been working and preparing for this game.”

United midfielder Juan Mata: “It’s really important for us. We can win a trophy the club has never won, a European trophy, and then obviously have the chance to play Champions League football next season. So we are taking it very seriously and are focused on trying to win.

“We’ve played a lot of games but, for me, when you reach a final, the mental power is much stronger than the physical side of it. We are just focused on giving the last push of the season, using all our strength and leaving everything on the pitch, and trying to win.

“It was one of my aims when I came – to win big trophies. Hopefully we can do it on Wednesday and then, next season, another one. Since I came, we won some trophies but no European ones and it’s always special to play in Europe with this club.”

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