After Feyenoord secured their first league title in 18 years, attention has shifted to Ajax as the Amsterdam club bids to win its first European trophy since 1995.
Ajax go into Wednesday night’s Europa League final in Stockholm as underdogs against English giants Manchester United, but 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.
Seventeen-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt could become the youngest player ever to take the field in a European final, less than a year after he was lining up in Ajax’s youth team against Emmen in the Jupiler League.
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 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.
Around 100,000 fans are expected to pack Museumplein on Wednesday night to follow the match on giant screens broadcasting live from Sweden. Three giant crosses have been mown into the grass in the square to symbolise the city’s relationship with the club.
The two clubs have won the European Cup seven times between them – Ajax four times, United three – but Ajax’s triumph in 1992 is the only victory for either side in the Europa League, previously known as the Uefa Cup.