Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini are expected to return to the starting lineup for Manchester United in the Europa League final.
After nine long months, Manchester United and Ajax set out on the footballing field for the final time this season, with a lot at stake. Not only will the winning team get their hands on a European title, but will also gain direct entry into next season’s Champions League group stage.
The Europa League finale has pitted Manchester United’s experienced and star-studded lineup to Ajax’s exuberant and budding crop of young players. The English side go into this one as favourites, but the Dutch team have enough in their ranks to cause an upset on the day.
United manager Jose Mourinho put his eggs in the Europa League basket for the past few weeks, even though his side had a chance to secure Champions League qualification through the Premier League.
After resting a number of players for the last three league matches, Mourinho now has the squad he would’ve wanted barring a few injuries. Guaranteed absentees for the Red Devils are Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The United boss did confirm in a press conference on the 19th that the injured players will also travel with the team. He said:
“Everybody goes. We have a few on crutches but everybody goes. Fantastic group of players, fantastic spirit since the beginning of the season, different run, lots of matches.”
Jose would have loved to have Ibrahimovic in his squad, but will have to rely on the likes of Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial to bag in the goals and win the game for them.
Defensively, Antonio Valencia has been used very sparingly by Mourinho in the league as there could be issues with the player’s fitness levels. However, the Ecuador international is ready to go, and is expected to start at right-back on Wednesday night.
Also likely to return to the side is midfielder Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian picked up a minor injury during United’s 0-0 draw against Southampton, which saw him sit out the following game against Crystal Palace on the final day of the season.
However, he is understood to have recovered a hundred percent, and could be named in the starting eleven ahead of Michael Carrick, with Ander Herrera operating as the holding midfielder.
Axel Tunazebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have impressed in their recent matches, but Mourinho is not likely to take a risk with his youngsters for what is the club’s most important game of the season.
The duo are, however, part of the 20 man squad that has made the trip to Stockholm. David de Gea has also traveled with the team, but will not be starting as Mourinho confirmed that Sergio Romero will retain his position between the sticks for the Europa League final.
For Ajax, Nick Viergever will be a huge miss as the defender picked up yellow cards in both legs of the semi-finals, and is suspended for the final. Left-back Daley Sinkgraven is also ruled out due to a knee injury.