Whatever one may say about Mourinho, there is something in this Portuguese. Special. Arrogant. Cutting. Eccentric. Love him or hate him — it’s everyone’s choice. But, it’s impossible to be indifferent to this guy. Every story needs a villain and we have it. Bravo José, bravo!
The season of European Cups reached the finish line. First European trophy was played in the Swedish capital. Dutch Ajax fought against the English Manchester United in the decisive confrontation of the Europa League at the 50-thousand “Friend Arena”. This was the battle of David and Goliath. The path of the Amsterdam team to Stockholm was thorny. Their very presence here is indeed outstanding. In each round of the playoffs, “God’s sons” had to pick up the ticket to the next stage, giving out fantastic matches in tension and development. The opposite is true in the situation with the “Red Devils”. Manchester United was the main favorite from the very beginning of the competition and this time justified all the forecasts of the bookmakers.
Mourinho’s ticket to the Champions League
In his first season as the head of Manchester United Jose completely failed internal campaign. And now, the Portuguese coach desperately needed to win the trophy. He aimed at a ticket to the Champions League for the next season, in order to adequately close the current campaign. It was very difficult to do this. Manchester United had long been bled by serious personnel losses in the face of injured Ibrahimović, Rojo, Young and Shaw. As for Ajax, winning this trophy would mean a a feat, especially in a battle with such an honored and titled rival.
What did Ajax lack?
Physics, physics and physics again. And experience, because MU obviously totally excluded the flanks play. A more experienced club – for example, Juventus, would have done everything to play as widely as possible in order to destroy the scheme of Mourinho. MU stayed collected at the center and with fear of double pressure on the flanks. But Bosh has too young guys to destroy the dark blue wall. For example, in the first half Smalling and Blind – the central defenders of Mourinho, won 100% aerial tackles, 100% of individual tackles, 3 interceptions.
MU won everything that could be won physically.
Romero managed the only single case. The Argentine officially made one save before the break – when there was powerful strike from sharp angle. The goalkeeper fixed the ball with one hand. Onana was not in the spotlight, but MU was lucky. Pogba struck poorly, but the ricochet intervened.
And what did Ajax show? Nothing intelligible.
The central midfielders could not create anything while perfectly pinned by Fellaini, Herrera and Pogba. Traore and Ziyech did not succeed in using acquired free zones. The experienced Valencia controlled both his rival and Junes. On the other hand, Bertrand gave successful assists from time to time. But since Dolberg was completely out of the game, the result was logical. Ajax dealt six strikes in the first half and only one was on target. After the break, nothing has changed. Just MU received another dose of confidence.
What about Statistics?
Attempted Shots (on target): 17 (3) – 6 (4). Blocked: 9 – 1. Corners: 5-2.
Possession of the ball: 67% – 33%.
Passing Accuracy 88%-70%. Passes — 642 – 276. Distance Covered — 107.4 km – 104.9 km.
The advantage of Ajax in shots says the same as the difference with the ball possession. Mourinho deliberately gave an initiative to the opponent. The Portuguese understood that the Dutch cannot play flawlessly at their gates. Therefore, MU will receive three good counterattacks in seven cases out of ten. Also note how easily and often the British lost the ball – they gave it to Ajax on purpose and returned back with ease.
Balls Recovered: 42 – 64. Aerial Tackles: 12 – 22. Tackles: 21 – 28. Clearances: 12 – 23.
Pay attention to how smart Manchester United worked in the destruction. Fellaini, Pogba and Herrera gathered in one section of the field – in the middle of the field and to the left, trying to close Bertrand Traore. Mourinho instructed his midfielders that they should play closer to each other. And they understood him. According to the battle for the aerial tackles, MU has a clean victory. Similar picture in other indicators. The favorite played and defended itself calmly behind the ball line. A conscious bet on boredom, but the method worked.
Losers with the future — Sanchez, Ziyech, Traore
It is impossible not to praise the several guys in the “Red and White”. Klaassen failed the match – he is one of the most experienced. He ought to play differently. Dolberg was closed tightly but Traore tried. Sanchez was more successful in the defensive, Ziyech activated only several times. In Ajax everyone is talented, except maybe Shone, but today “Football-today.com” want to highlight this three. MU sliced and diced Ajax as a cake, vertically and horizontally, but the talented guys tried to kick off at least. However, Peter Bosz and company did not have enough experience and ability to kick off, although they did what they could.
Evil genius of the match — Jose Mourinho (Manchester United)
The Portuguese acted in the way that Di Matteo’s eyes caught fire. Even the former Chelsea mentor and the Champions League winner would not “park the bus” so openly, playing against a team that is so younger and more modest. The starting lineup of Ajax cost the club £ 15 million – not counting the money for the academy, of course. The starting lineup of MU is 257 million pounds (again excluding the funds for the training of Rashford). And although a significant portion was spent on obtaining Pogba, the difference is substantial.
“Parking the Bus”
Mourinho calmly played closed game against the Dutch. The pressure of the British automatically changed the height after the Pogba’s goal. And when the strongest of the Armenian football players promptly increased the difference in the score, Jose could calm down. His tactics fully worked. Manchester United beat Ajax physically and tactically. They were lucky to score after a bounce, having two hits on the target in half-time. When the standard – another weapon of “buses” worked, it became clear. Mourinho naturally becomes the first coach in the the history of football, who won two major European cups.
Did Manchester United deserve victory?
Despite primitive football in the final of the Europa League, overshadowed by a mourning foreword from Manchester, the team from this city proved that it is slower than Ajax, boring, but certainly more solid. The difference in the class was evident from beginning to end but there was even more constrast in muscles. Poor Dolberg could not move Smalling from place. Sanchez had problems when attacking since either Pogba or Fellaini pressed him down.
Winning with little to no effort
There is no point in arguing about the deserved victory of the British. They allowed the Dutch rival to attack. Ajax could not use given space to attack the team that betted on a draw and counter-attacks. Opponent’s tactic succeeded completely. The starting line showed that, if desired, Mourinho could order his team to go forward more boldly.
Since turning off the flanks and pressure in the center was enough tactics, the Portuguese got another Eurocup without sweat. Worrying about the difference in energy reserves – Manchester United could get tired faster, since the team played more matches than others in the season, José re-insured himself. As a result, MU fans got the hope that next time their team will act differently in Champions League. In five or ten years, everyone will forget that MU was fighting back and remember that the score was 2-0 in favor of the British.
Finale is only a beginning
It’s good that Mourinho returns to the Champions League. Or, rather, crawls there on paunch of pragmatic football in the Europa League. In any story, we need an evil antagonist with charisma, and the destroyer of sincere football, professional brawler and master of tactical draws is perfect candidate. The final was exactly the match in which Jose won cleanly and stubbornly. Everything that he came up with, worked. In the end, Ibrahimović won one of the main European cups for the first time in his life. “Football-today.com” congratulates the Sweden player with his team’s victory in Stockholm.
Now Manchester United has all the European Cups in its collection. The big club reminded of itself! However, this finale is just the beginning — both for Manchester United and for Ajax.