Manchester United vs Ajax Preview Feb 23rd, Europa League

by Punter's Hero on February 23, 2012

in Football, Latest News

England’s Manchester United heads home to Old Trafford with a 2-0 aggregate lead over Ajax of Holland in their second-leg Europa League game on Feb. 23. It’s going to be quite an uphill battle for the Dutch team considering United has only lost twice in European competition at home since 2001. However, Ajax has a good road record this year and has lost just three times in nine away games in their domestic league.

United currently sits in second place in the English Premier League with 58 points from 18 wins, four draws and three losses. They’re two points behind league-leading Manchester City and five ahead of third-place Tottenham Hotspur. Ajax is in sixth place in the Dutch Eredvisie with 40 points from 11 wins, seven draws and four losses.

The first leg of this tie wasn’t exactly a barnburner, but things did come to life a little in the second half when United scored both their goals in their 2-0 win. Manager Alex Ferguson will likely rest some key players such as Wayne Rooney for this game, but still has enough good players to field a strong side. De Gea should get the start in goal, but Ben Amos is a possibility. Dmitar Berbatov could start up front with Javier Hernandez.

United still has numerous players out with injuries as well, with winger Antonio Valencia suffering from a hamstring problem, goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard out with an ankle injury, midfielder Anderson sidelined with a slight injury, captain Nemanja Vidic out for the season with a knee injury, Darren Fletcher with a bowel condition, and striker Michael Owen still out with an injured thigh. It’s expected that Ryan Giggs and Berbatov will be in the squad after missing the first leg in Holland. If Giggs plays it’ll be his 900th game for United. Paul Pogba could make his European debut for United.

Ajax also has its share of injuries. Derk Boerrigter has a bad back, Gregory van der Wiel has a groin problem, Eyong Enoh has an injured hamstring, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson is out due to a leg injury, Andre Ooijer has a calf problem, and Nicolai Boilesen also has a bad hamstring. A couple of these players will be game-time decisions. Ajax beat NEC 4-1 in league play in their last game with Dmitry Bulykin scoring twice, but he may miss this tie as he was injured in that game.

United’s last loss in a European home game came 12 games ago when Besiktas beat them in November of 2009. Their last loss before that was way back in 2001 when Deportivo La Coruna beat them. Ajax has been excellent on the road and has lost only five away games in their last 20 in the Europa League. United has won three, drawn one and lost one in their past five matches overall while Ajax has two wins and three losses in theirs.

Expect Ajax to put up a decent battle, but eventually fall by two goals at the most to United.

Sportsbook Bet365 has the current odds of a United win at 4/11 with an Ajax victory at 8/1 and a draw at 7/2.

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