Manchester United’s 2016-17 has come down to one game, with the Europa League final against Ajax to determine whether the season is adjudged as a success or failure.
Qualifying for the Champions League was always the minimum pre-requisite for Jose Mourinho in his first campaign in charge at Old Trafford and victory in Stockholm can guarantee this.
United’s Premier League performances over the last month have been relatively underwhelming given that the club’s focus has been on European exploits and as such it is important to find the best odds for your bets ahead of the clash against Ajax.
After a win over Crystal Palace in the final game of the domestic season, the English side are still the firm favourites to be crowned as Europa League winners, with odds of 1/2 for Mourinho’s men to lift the trophy.
United face a dangerous and spirited Ajax side that should not be written off. The Amsterdam club has a rich history but relative financial constraints compared with Europe’s biggest teams have seen the Dutch side struggle to make an impact on the continent in the last ten years.
However, Ajax can win their first European crown since the 1995 European Cup with victory over United, with the best odds on offer for the Eredivisie outfit to succeed around 16/9.
For United, goals have dried up to some extent since attacking talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury, with the responsibility on the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to provide the firepower in Sweden.
The young England international seems the most likely to get the nod to start as the furthest man forward and has shown when given a chance to play in his favourite position that he can deliver.
It is somewhat unfair for Rashford to be judged given his young age, but the attacker clearly has the ability to get on the scoresheet against Ajax – odds of 47/10 are the best on offer for the 19-year-old to hit the first goal.
Ajax showed in their semi-final first-leg destruction of an able Lyon side that they have goals in the tank, with Kasper Dolberg and Davy Klaassen players with real star quality.
However, a cruel twist of fate could well be Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traore scoring against United – the young forward is at odds of 21/2 to net the first goal in the final.
Arguably the Manchester club’s greatest European victory came in 1999 when the Red Devils came from a goal behind to beat Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou in Champions League final injury time.
Such high drama again would certainly see fingernails being gnawed in the United support, but backing the English team to come from behind to win pays out attractive odds of 23/2 with some bookmakers.
Both teams clearly have goals in them and as such a high-scoring affair could well be in order.
As such, looking at odds for both teams to score at 21/20 offers little value and should be avoided.
It will be a tense finale to Mourinho’s first season in charge, but 90 minutes is all that stands between United, two trophies this term and Champions League football being guaranteed.