Manchester United will attempt to put aside their grief on Wednesday in a Europa League final against Ajax scarred by the deadly terror attack in their home city.
What should have been a showpiece occasion will instead carry a sombre tone, with players joining together for a pre-match minute's silence in memory of the 22 people killed at Manchester Arena on Monday.
"It should be one big celebration, but when something like this happens two days before, the fact we've been discussing it just goes to show the impact," Ajax coach Peter Bosz told his pre-game media conference in Stockholm.
"It is a match that Manchester wants to win, that we want to win and that we are going to try to win. But there is a shadow hanging over this final."
United are seeking to win the only trophy they have never won and, in doing so, secure a place in next season's Champions League, having failed to qualify via the Premier League.
They can also become only the fifth club -- after Ajax, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Chelsea -- to have won the Champions League, the Europa League and the now defunct European Cup Winners' Cup.
Jose Mourinho, who won the UEFA Cup with Porto in 2003, has already steered United to League Cup glory, but he accepts his maiden Old Trafford season will be perceived as a failure if his side fall to Bosz's dazzling young Ajax team.
Ajax, four-time European champions, have reached their first European final since a 4-2 loss on penalties to Juventus in the 1995-96 Champions League.
They won the previous season's Champions League and with fabled figures from their 1990s golden team now employed behind the scenes, there is a feeling that the Amsterdam giants have rediscovered themselves.
Ajax starting XI Ajax: Onana; Veltman, Sanchez, De Ligt, Riedewald; Klaassen, Schone, Ziyech; Traore, Dolberg, Younes.
Manchester United starting XI: Romero; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Mkhitaryan.
Ajax will be without left-back Daley Sinkgraven, who has recovered from an injury but was considered unfit for the final. Nick Viergever, who can fill the void, is suspended so Jairo Riedewald is tipped to start.
It looks like 20-year-old Davinson Sanchez and 17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt will be Peter Bosz's centre-back partnership against a strong United side.
Meanwhile, Mourinho will hope to make one change to the team that beat Celta Vigo in the semi-final, with Chris Smalling or Phil Jones replacing the suspended Eric Bailly at centre-back. There will be no glorious homecoming for Zlatan Ibahimovic, United's Swedish former Ajax striker, who is out injured.
With inputs from AFP
Published Date: May 24, 2017 15:34 PM | Updated Date: May 24, 2017 15:34 PM