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Ajax and United on the comeback trail

Published: Monday 9 January 2012, 8.00CET
Manchester United FC visit AFC Ajax for their first match in UEFA's second club competition since 1995 as both sides bid to bounce back from early UEFA Champions League elimination.
Ajax and United on the comeback trail
United will look to bounce back after the defeat in Basel that cast them out of the UEFA Champions League ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 9 January 2012, 8.00CET

Ajax and United on the comeback trail

Manchester United FC visit AFC Ajax for their first match in UEFA's second club competition since 1995 as both sides bid to bounce back from early UEFA Champions League elimination.

Two of European football's most famous names meet in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 when AFC Ajax and Manchester United FC will each look to bounce back from the disappointment of early UEFA Champions League elimination.

Previous meetings
• The teams have met once before in UEFA competition, Tommy Docherty's United prevailing 2-1 on aggregate against Tomislav Ivić's Ajax in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup first round. Ruud Krol scored the only goal in Amsterdam, but Lou Macari and Sammy McIlroy turned the tie around at Old Trafford.

• The teams for that first Amsterdam meeting on 15 September 1976 were:
Ajax: Schrijvers, Van Dord, Gluić, Dusbaba, Krol, Notten, Hulshoff, Geels, Erkens, Arnesen (Ling 76), Schoenaker (Zuidema 81).
United: Stepney, Nicholl, Houston, Daly (McCreery 68), Greenhoff, Buchan, Coppell, McIlroy, Pearson, Macari, Hill.

Match background
• Ajax have won all three of Europe's top club trophies – the European Champion Clubs' Cup/UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. United, missing the middle prize, could complete the clean sweep themselves by winning this competition.

• Ajax's record in 17 games against English sides is W5 D6 L6 (W4 D2 L2 at home).

• The Amsterdam club have not won in seven matches against English opposition (three draws, four defeats). Their last victory was against Nottingham Forest FC in the 1980/81 European Cup semi-finals, albeit the 1-0 scoreline still spelled aggregate defeat for Ajax.

• United's record against Dutch teams reads W6 D2 L2 (W1 D2 L2 in the Netherlands).

• Ajax are in the last 32 for the fourth season running. They beat ACF Fiorentina in 2008/09, but bowed out in the next round; in 2009/10 they lost to Juventus while last season they overcame RSC Anderlecht, but fell to FC Spartak Moskva at the next hurdle.

• Ajax have not reached the last eight of a UEFA competition since 2002/03, when they lost to AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

• United are absent from the UEFA Champions League round of 16 for the first time since 2005/06. Their last taste of this competition came when losing to SC Rotor Volgograd on away goals in the 1995/96 first round.

• All four of United's UEFA Cup games under Sir Alex Ferguson ended in draws: two 0-0s followed by a shoot-out defeat against FC Torpedo Moskva in 1992/93, and a 0-0 and a 2-2 against Rotor two years later.

• Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are the only current United players to have represented the club in the UEFA Cup, featuring in both Rotor fixtures.

Team facts
• Nicolai Boilesen and Christian Eriksen are Denmark colleagues of Anders Lindegaard.

• André Ooijer and Ji-Sung Park were team-mates at PSV Eindhoven from 2002 to 2005, winning Dutch titles together in 2002/03 and 2004/05. Ooijer played against United four times while at Blackburn Rovers FC between 2007 and 2009, losing on each occasion.

• Frank de Boer won five Dutch titles, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League as a defender at Ajax, and the 1998/99 Spanish league with FC Barcelona. Capped 112 times by the Netherlands, he won his first title as a coach with Ajax last season.

• Sir Alex has now been United manager for 25 years, leading the club to their record 19th English title last season. Now 70, he won three Scottish titles and the 1982/83 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen FC before coming to Old Trafford, where his haul includes 12 league crowns, a second UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and two UEFA Champions League triumphs.

• De Boer and Sir Alex were both players at Rangers FC; Sir Alex represented his hometown club from 1967 to 1969 while De Boer played at Ibrox in 2004.

Round of 16
• The winners will take FC Lokomotiv Moskva or Athletic Club in the round of 16 on 8 and 15 March, playing the first leg at home.

• Ajax have never met Lokomotiv but faced Athletic in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup first round, recovering from a 2-0 away defeat with a 3-0 home win.

• United have not played Lokomotiv either, but eliminated Athletic in the 1956/57 European Cup quarter-finals, losing 5-3 in Bilbao but prevailing 3-0 at home.

Competition statistics
• An updated version of the UEFA Europa League Statistics Handbook is available here:

Last updated: 15/02/12 10.11CET