Ajax (+355) vs. Manchester United (-108), Draw (+260)
It was a wild, unnerving ride but we’re finally here. Manchester United and Ajax will meet in Solna, Sweden, on May 24th for the 2017 Europa League final.
All the pressure will be on Manchester United in the final. Ajax have already secured a Champions League spot regardless of the outcome, whereas Manchester United will miss out once again if they lose.
Man U have been the favorites to win Europa from the very start. But time and time again we saw them scrape by against teams they were expected to easily handle. Since the Round of 16, each match has been a nail-biter for the third-richest club in the world.
And that was before the injuries started pouring in. You’re probably tired of hearing about the battered Manchester United line-up, so let’s just quickly run through the important ones: Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
On top of that, Eric Bailly will miss the final due to a red card in the dying minutes of the second leg Celta Vigo clash. And for reasons I can’t understand, manager Jose Mourinho has chosen to start backup keeper Sergio Romero for the final.
United still have two more league games to play, which means they’ll only have three days to rest before the Europa final. Mourinho will preserve his star players in the remaining games against Southampton and Crystal Palace since there’s really nothing left to play for. The team has fallen to sixth after a rough 0-2-2 stretch and is now seven points back of the top four. If they fail to win the Europa League, the season will be considered a complete failure.
Meanwhile, Ajax have already finished their Eredivisie season and will have had 12 days of rest and preparation leading up to the match.
The glory years of Ajax may be far behind them, but they still boast one of the best youth academies in the world. The current Ajax side is ridiculously young, and has managed to pull off some extraordinary results.
Why United are still such a heavy favorite is beyond me. They’re ravaged with injuries, tired from league games, and have repeatedly underperformed at the Europa League. At +355, Ajax are well worth a pick.
Pick: Ajax (+355)
Photo credit: Ian C [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
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