Manchester United v Ajax preview


Stu Davis
Thursday 23 February 2012 17:22
Tom Cleverley pictured in training
Tom Cleverley pictured in training

Ahead of tonight's Europa League match between Manchester United and Ajax, we look at the key battles.

The English champions lead their Dutch counterparts 2-0 from the first-leg, but for either team to progress to the next round, the following battles will be key.

Tom Cleverley v Christian Eriksen

The Battle of the youngsters; Eriksen was singled out for praise by Sir Alex Ferguson after the first-leg, labelling the Dane as, "a typical Ajax player who his good on the ball." His ability to run with the ball at United's defence could prove to be a deciding factor.

Cleverley is set to complete his first full 90 minutes since returning from an ankle injury which has kept him out for much of the season. If he can recapture his early season form, Cleverley should keep United ticking throughout.

Danny Welbeck v Jan Vertonghen

Expect this one to be one of the more competitive battles of the game, and could have a big impact on the overall result.

The Ajax captain was last week described by his manager Frank De Boer as, "close to the level of Manchester United."

The Belgian, who has been rumoured to be attracting many of England's top clubs, will have a tough task on his hands with Welbeck, who has revelled alongside Wayne Rooney upfront this season, keeping Javier Hernandez out of the side. His ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play will be key for United.

Fabio Da Silva v Miralem Sulejmani

Sulejmani looked to be Ajax's main threat during the first-leg, teasing United's defence with some dangerous crossing and may need to be monitored a little closer this time around. Providing he can do so again, this will provide a big test for Fabio, who much like his brother seems to be more confident in attack, than remaining solid in defence.

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