Europa League final betting: Manchester Utd take heavy hearts to Sweden

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Updated: May 24, 2017

Given the tragic events that unfolded at the Manchester Arena just two days ago, Manchester United’s visit to Stockholm to face Ajax in the UEFA Europa League has a sombre edge. But once the opening whistle sounds, we’re expecting an entertaining affair featuring some of the continent’s most exciting young footballers; overall record: 30-6-23, +16.28 units

 

UEFA Europa League final: Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands) v Manchester United (England)
Where: Friends Arena, Solna, Sweden
When: Thursday, May 25, 4.45am (AET)
Prices: Ajax $4.20, Manchester United $2.00, DRAW $3.30

Confirmed bet: Both teams to score (one unit @ $1.95)

TIW says: After initial fears the match could be postponed, UEFA confirmed that the Europa League final will go ahead tonight in Solna despite the pop concert terror attack at Manchester Arena just 48 hours prior to the kick-off. An explosion in the foyer of the north-west England venue on Monday killed 22 people, with a further 119 requiring hospital treatment. UEFA added that a minute’s silence will be held before kick-off after confirming the game will go ahead as planned. Jose Mourinho’s squad trained as normal at Carrington prior to flying out to Sweden.

The players took part in a minute’s silence (pictured below) before the session in tribute to those who lost their lives. Ajax coach Peter Bosz summed up the feelings in his camp: “The feeling that prevails is that the final doesn’t have the glow it should have. Tomorrow evening should be a football feast, but because of events in Manchester, we’re all affected, particularly as we’re playing against Manchester. It’s horrible. My heartfelt sympathies.” This final comes just over a month after the team bus of German side Borussia Dortmund was targeted by three roadside bomb blasts prior to a Champions League home game with Monaco. That attack left defender Marc Bartra with a fractured wrist.

 

It’s a shame that events elsewhere have taken some of the gloss of this contest as it looms as an intriguing affair. Can an exciting young Ajax side win their first piece continental silverware in more than two decades, or will José Mourinho’s Manchester United pick up the final trophy to complete their European set? This is the clubs’ fifth meeting in UEFA competitions with the past four producing two wins apiece. The game is taking place 22 years to the day since Ajax claimed their last major European trophy, overcoming AC Milan 1-0 in the 1995 UEFA Champions League final.

This is Ajax’s 15th UEFA final (W10 L4), and their first since they lost on penalties to Juventus in the 1996 UEFA Champions League final. Ajax finished their Eredivisie campaign with a 3-1 win at Willem II (just failing to pip Feyenoord for the title), where they fielded the youngest starting XI in league history with an average age of 20 years and 139 days. Nick Viergever is suspended, so 17-year-old sensation Matthijs de Ligt is likely to partner Davinson Sanchez at the heart of defence. Through the middle, 19-year-old Dane Kasper Dolberg (pictured below) is an ice-cool finisher, who has netted six UEL goals this term.

 

United haven’t always impressed on their way to the final, but they have always found a way to do just enough. In the group stage, defeats at Feyenoord and Fenerbahçe could have proved costly, but strong home form saw them through. They are unbeaten in 10 European matches (W7 D3) since a 2-1 loss at Fenerbahçe in this season’s UEFA Europa League group stage. This is United’s 12th UEFA final (W6 L5). They have lost their past three with their most recent final victory on penalties against Chelsea in the 2008 UEFA Champions League decider.

Mourinho, who rested several of United’s big names on Sunday as they ended their Premier League season with a 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace, has won all three of his major UEFA finals while this is Bosz’s first major European final. Eric Bailly is suspended, while Mourinho has confirmed Sergio Romero will keep his place in goal over David de Gea. A serious knee injury prevents Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing in his home country, while Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are long-term absentees. Our expectation is that Ajax will attempt to force United’s hand by playing an up-tempo style of football, meaning goals are more likely than not.

 

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Time (AET); prices with thanks to Bet365 (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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