MANCHESTER UNITED’S season comes down to the Europa League final with Ajax.
Jose Mourinho has thrown all his eggs into one basket knowing a win on Wednesday would see his side playing Champions League football next season.
But how will both teams line up?
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Our friends at Football Whispers have profiled the two potential starting XIs, with both sides likely to employ a 4-3-3.
Appearing in 11 of Manchester United’s 14 Europa League games so far this season, Sergio Romero is the man who’s been given the gloves in Europe.
He’s conceded just four goals too and the Argentina international will be safe pair of hands for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Re-born as a full-back, Antonio Valencia has thrived for Manchester United this season, proving himself as one of the best in England.
The Ecuadorian will hope to maraud up the right flank and replicate his average of 2.3 dribbles per 90 minutes so far in the competition.
With Eric Bailly suspended, Chris Smalling will hope to be given the nod over Phil Jones at the heart of the Red Devils’ defence.
If he starts ahead of Jones, it’s notable that Smalling has made 5.1 clearances per 90 minutes on average in the Europa League this season – the only United player to make more is the former Blackburn Rovers man.
Only four United players have spent more time on the pitch in Europe than Daley Blind this year – Paul Pogba, Romero, Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Dutchman made more than 100 appearances for opponents Ajax before moving to Old Trafford, but says he’ll be putting his allegiances aside for Wednesday.
The Italian is the current option at left-back for Mourinho.
The match in Stockholm will be his second final in the colours of Manchester United, and he won the other – the 2015/16 FA Cup final.
Only Ibrahimovic has had more shots per game in the Europa League for United than Pogba.
The world’s most expensive player is also the one of his team-mates to feature in every one of their European matches this season.
No player who has played more than two games in the Europa League has averaged more passes per match than Ander Herrera’s 82.8.
With Wayne Rooney set to leave Old Trafford in the summer, Herrera will want to prove he can lead the team and be a potential future skipper, even if he won’t have the captain’s armband in Stockholm.
Many expected Marouane Fellaini to leave Old Trafford when David Moyes did, but he has proven himself a useful player for both Louis van Gaal and Mourinho.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, per 90 minutes, no United player has won more aerial duels than the Belgian’s 5.8.
After a quiet start to his career in England, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has shown his skill wearing the red of Manchester United.
Alongside Ibrahimovic, the Armenian has the most goals for the Mourinho’s side in the Europa League – 5 – but he’s had less time on the pitch than the Swede – 743 minutes compared to 899.
After his goalscoring debut in the Europa League last season, Marcus Rashford has gone from strength to strength and is now an England international.
His stunning free-kick gave Manchester United a 1-0 lead to take back to Old Trafford in the semi-final first leg against Celta Vigo.
Jesse Lingard scored in his two of his first three Europa League matches this season – against Fenerbahce and Feyenoord – but not since.
United scored four goals in both of those games – so they’ll be hoping he will be able to get on the scoresheet in Europe again.
Ajax’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Andre Onana has started all but one of their Europa League games this season, conceding 14 in 13 games.
It’s his first season as No.1 in the Dutch capital, but he’s been part of the club since 2015, after joining from Barcelona’s academy.
Vice-captain Joel Veltman is another player who has come through the feted academy at Ajax.
No player at the Amsterdam club has averaged more tackles per game in the Europa League this season – 3.6.
One of the in-demand players at the Dutch side, Davinson Sanchez has been subject of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona transfer rumours.
Named the club’s player of the year, the 20-year-old Colombian likes to have the ball at his feet – no other playing in the Dutch top flight has attempted more passes than Sánchez’s 2270.
Matthijs de Ligt
With Nick Viergever suspended, 17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt could step in to replace him.
Despite his young age, he’s not a complete novice though, having played 705 minutes in their Europa League so far this campaign, and he’s already been capped by the Netherlands.
Another talented homegrown player in this young Ajax team, 20-year-old Jairo Riedeweld also came through the De Toekomst academy.
He has the highest passing accuracy of any of the Dutch side’s players in the Europa League this season – 89.3 per cent.
If Manchester United want to win, they’ll have to make sure they stop influential captain Davy Klaaseen.
The 24-year-old is thought to be an Everton transfer target and has been directly involved in 32 goals – scoring 20 and getting 12 assists – in all competitions this season.
At 30, Lasse Schone is practically a grandad within this Ajax team.
The Danish midfielder has been hugely influential since joining from NEC Nijmegen in 2012, making more than 100 appearances and winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2014.
Morocco International Hakim Ziyech is in his first season at the Johan Cruyff Arena after signing from FC Twente last summer.
Even from his role in the midfield, he averages three shots a game in the Europa League, but only has two goals.
On loan from Chelsea, after a quiet start at Ajax, Bertrand Traore has found himself thriving as part of an exciting front three.
Only two players – Zenit St. Petersburg’s Giuliano and Genk’s Alex Pozuelo – have more assists in the competition this year than the 21-year-old Burkina Faso International’s four.
While Sanchez may be attracting interest from across Europe, Kasper Dolberg is probably the hottest prospect at Ajax right now.
The 19-year-old Danish forward has scored 23 times in 47 competitions in his debut season at the club and this season has been named Ajax Young Player of the Year, as well as winning the Johan Cruyff Award for the best under-21 talent in the Eredivisie.
Amin Younes is the Pogba of Ajax – that is to say he’s the only man to feature in every one of his side’s Europa League matches this season.
And his average of 5.1 dribbles per game in the Europa League is higher than anyone else in the competition.