Amsterdam football club Ajax tonight bid to win their first European football trophy since 1995, taking on English giants Manchester United in Stockholm.
Thousands of Ajax fans are heading for the Swedish capital by plane to watch the Europa League final, which kicks off at 8.45pm
In Amsterdam, preparations have been made for up to 100,000 people to watch the game on giant screens on the city’s Museumplein, and to welcome the team home if they are victorious.
The final, has, however been overshadowed by Monday’s bombing at the Manchester Arena and the opening ceremony will be more muted, RTL said. In addition, there will be a minute’s silence for the victims before the kick-off.
Although Ajax go into Wednesday’s match as underdogs, coach Peter Bosz says that means the pressure will be off. ‘We’ve shown this season that we can win by playing good football, and we can do it in the final,’ he said during the pre-match press conference. ‘I don’t feel any pressure, but I see a lot of opportunities.’
Ajax also have the advantage of a week’s extra rest following the end of the league season, while United concluded their Premiership campaign on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace to finish sixth.
The match carries a huge incentive in the form of automatic entry to next year’s Champions League group stages. Victory in the Europa League will also earn the winners €6.5 million in prize money, but Champions League participation is worth a guaranteed €12 million plus €4 million worth of television rights.
‘Great things could happen tonight,’ RTL sports correspondent Marcel Maijer said. ‘If Ajax play like they did against Schalke, Copenhagen and Lyon, then they have a good chance.’
Captain Davy Klaassen told reporters: ‘We are going to play our own game and put on the pressure.’