Europa League: Grief-torn United call nerve for final test

A minute's silence will be held before Wednesday's game and a pre-match ceremony has been cut back, while United's players will wear black armbands.

Hakim Ziyech has recorded four assists in his last three European appearances for Ajax, Amin Younes has completed more dribbles, 73 in total, in the Europa League this season than the next two best players combined (Paul Pogba, 37 and Traore, 31) and teen Kasper Dolberg's haul of six strikes establish him as the ideal foil for Traore while putting potential suitors around Europe on alert.

The Manchester United summer signing has only scored four times and has made just one assist in 15 starts and nine subtitute appearances in the Premier League this term.

This was always an enormous game for Manchester United after they put their eggs in the basket of the Europa League a few weeks ago. Bertrand Traore and Dolberg guided Ajax to the quarter-finals with a 3-2 aggregate score. At one stage, Ajax and United supporters, gathered outside a bar near the concourse, combined to sing, "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be all right" - a line from Bob Marley's song, Three Little Birds.

United club captain Wayne Rooney expressed his shock on Twitter, writing: "Devastating news this morning". I think Ajax will have a lot of possession and create a lot of chances.

As expected Sergio Romero has been selected instead of David de Gea, who starts on the bench. Over 90 minutes, footballers tend to be pretty good at filtering out everything else and, ultimately, it is still a significant occasion in United's recent history.

"We have a job to do and will fly to Sweden to do that job".

Again, though, business as normal is easier said than done right now.

"The feeling that prevails is that the final doesn't have the glow it should have". They will find it hard. There were plenty of United supporters in Gamla Stan, Stockholm's old town, or drinking in the pubs and hotels near Central Station, but it was nothing like as boisterous as usual.

"We can not take out of our minds and our hearts the victims and their families", his statement read. If they win, then the returns will be topped up to the enhanced value after the final whistle.

  • Arturo Norris