You’ve probably saw the Europa League final between Ajax and Manchester United. It was a decent game, not the best, not the worst. It’s something normal, when Mourinho is involved. You want to know why ? Well, I’m going to tell you.
Mourinho is known as a closer. Go out and fast on the counter-attack, defend well and keep the players organised somewhere around 30 meters away from your goal keep. In that way, you keep your keep tight. For this tactic to work however, you do need excellent strength in defense and some fast wingers and forwards. Or a strong forward that can launch the ball to the wingers. Wingers that can get the ball in the back of the net. Luckily, Manchester United does have some fast men in the final third. Three wonderkinds, Rashford, Lingard and Martial and all of them are fast players that can destabilize a defense. Those are the wingers that are going the run.
And in this match, the man that set the ball for the forwards was Fellaini. The Belgian 194 cm helped him won a lot of duels. Mkitharian and Mata provide support, but also keep the defensive tight. Pogba and Herrera need to be the guys that keep the middle of the field closed, but also provide good passes for Fellaini (as a pivot) or for wingers to run.
And of course, you need strong defenders for when the middle doesn’t hold. And they have some strong defenders there, with Smalling and Blind holding a tight space, with Darmian and Valencia keeping it tight on the wing.
On the contrary, Ajax came into this match with one of the youngest team that reach and European final, with a medium age of 22 years old. Most of the players you’ve never heard of, if you don’t really follow the Eredivisie.
Last night, when I’ve followed the game, I barely recognized one or two players. Lasse Schone, Kasper Dolberg and Heiko Westerman were the only players that I’ve heard of until last night. But you can find a ton of wonderkids in their team.
In the Ajax sportswear you could find good players like Bertrand Traore (an excellent dribbler), Amin Younes (good with the ball) and Davy Klassen (a good passer). At least one of those players are going to leave Ajax this summer. Because there are a lot of interested teams.
And Ajax sells. Maybe that’s the issues. That Ajax can’t build a strong squad, they are way to young an inexperiences with European giants, that they can’t get to the next level.
That’s probably why they barely managed to get to Romero’s keep. Manchester hit twice and then defended well. Juventus style well.
Speaking of Juventus, next week is the UEFA Champions League final. Juventus vs Real Madrid. That’s an interesting match.