Where the Europa League final might be won and lost

Varying styles and contrasting experience but shared difficulties away from home in Europe this season – Ajax versus Manchester United promises to be an intriguing final.

Ajax and Manchester United both have patchy records away from home in Europe this season
Ajax and Manchester United both have patchy records away from home in Europe this season ©Getty Images

Ajax's attacking prowess ...
Ajax have such trickery and invention – will United be able to cope? Amin Younes and Bertrand Traoré will constantly stretch and tease the full-backs, with Justin Kluivert (son of Patrick) and David Neres ready to step off the bench.

Davy Klaassen brings power and pace through the middle while Hakim Ziyech is a supremely gifted playmaker, his understanding with Traoré excellent. Then there's Kasper Dolberg, a real talent who knows how to finish – the 19-year-old was not at his best against Lyon in the semi-final second leg yet still scored the goal that put Ajax through.

... versus United's defensive solidity
United have let in eight en route to Stockholm (compared with Ajax's 15), and only Tottenham Hotspur conceded fewer than United's 29 goals in the Premier League this season. Sergio Romero has been impressive in David de Gea's stead in Europe, while Antonio Valencia was described by Mourinho as the best right-back in the world back in January. Daley Blind brings inside knowledge of Ajax in central defence, but how big a miss will the suspended Eric Bailly be?

Ajax v United: European giants collide
Ajax v United: European giants collide

Ajax's youthful exuberance ...
Peter Bosz's expected line-up will have an average age of just over 22 years; none of the players or their coach has ever experienced a European final before. They've managed just fine so far, but will they be able to cope with the pressure of this occasion?

... versus United's grizzled experience
Then there's Mourinho, who has won all three of his previous major UEFA finals and triumphed in 11 of the 13 deciders he has presided over during the course of his illustrious career. His starting XI in the Premier League on Sunday included four debutants and had an average age below 23.

This, though, will be a team used to the big stage, with four of their travelling party – Wayne Rooney, Valencia, Michael Carrick and Chris Smalling – veterans of United's last European final matchday squad, the 2011 UEFA Champions League.

Flashback: Europa League final memories
Flashback: Europa League final memories

Home or away?
Ajax have won seven out of seven in this competition at the Amsterdam ArenA this term, registering 15 goals and shipping just three; United's record at Old Trafford is almost as formidable: P7 W6 D1 F16 A3.

On the road, however, Ajax have won only once and suffered three defeats. United, despite scoring a meagre seven away goals to Ajax's nine, have picked up three victories on foreign soil. How this travel sickness translates to a neutral venue remains to be seen – which side will find the Friends Arena a home from home?

The finishing touch
Ajax can at times be profligate, Younes and Traoré so often creating openings for themselves but not capitalising. It's a similar story for United, Mourinho bemoaning his team's failure to be clinical for much of the season: "We have the attacking players, we have the chances but we don't convert enough," he said last month. Who will make the most of the opportunities that come their way? Stockholm is set for the #UELfinal. pic.twitter.com/WYdA7MQ9IG

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