Europa League final preview: Ajax v Manchester United
- Author: Julie Sanders May 24, 2017,
May 24, 2017, 8:41
United's players observed a minute's silence at a morning training session on Tuesday before flying to Stockholm.
Additional measures had already been put in place following the act of terrorism in Stockholm on April 7, when a stolen beer truck was driven into a flagship department store, killing four shoppers.
"The thoughts and prayers of our ownership, board and everyone at Manchester City are with the people of Manchester and all those affected following the horrifying events of last night's Manchester Arena attack", City wrote in a statement.
In the Europa League knockout phase, it has been Pogba's fellow close-season signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as well as Marcus Rashford, who have typically carried the fight.
United are targeting victory in the Europa League final in order to complete their trophy collection and secure a place in next season's Champions League, having failed to qualify via the Premier League.
The final is huge in terms of Manchester, and also in terms of United's season - with the victor of course guaranteed a place in the Champions League, and therefore seeing their season next time out change totally. "If we win, we can have two gifts with the trophy and the Champions League". UEFA postponed that Champions League match against Monaco but had it played the very next day.
Last month's 2-0 home victory over eventual English champions Chelsea provided indications that United could be both more successful and more entertaining next season. A group stage game against Ukraine's Zorya Luhansk involved a 3,870-mile round trip, while the last-16 tie against Rostov necessitated a 4,266-mile return journey to Russian Federation.
But how now to approach this final which pits United against a vibrant, young, Cruyffian Ajax side in a meeting of two clubs with rich and evocative histories? The final against Ajax is on Wednesday. It's been hard in the Premier League for a few weeks. "Let's try to win and, if we win, it will be a good season", says Mata, a $61 million purchase for United in 2014.
Ajax boss Bosz joined those expressing sympathy, shock and solidarity, with the atrocity taking the edge off the club's first major final in 21 years.
It should be a football feast but because of the events in Manchester we are all affected, particularly as we are playing Manchester.
Mourinho and the United players could not hear the words but they found sympathetic ears all across the globe. I tried to express that.