The UEFA Champion League and UEFA Europa League(UEL) will come to end in 2 week’s time. On 24th May 2017 the final of the UEL will be between Manchester United and Ajax Amsterdam FC that will be held at the Friends Arena, Stockholm Sweden while the UCL final will be between Real Madrid and Juventus in the Millennium Stadium Cardiff on the following week on the 3rd June 2017. This will be an intriguing final between these team who have some pride and record making that will be made if they had won. It is a final to be watched even by the neutral.
We start with Manchester United. Since Six Alex Ferguson (SAF) had retired in 2013 the club had been turmoil with some bad results starting from 2014. In the first year after SAF had retired, David Moyes had been appointed to take over the job but what a disastrous spell it was as Manchester United for the first time in the Premier League era had finished outside top 4 as they had finished in the 7th place and missed the UCL for the first time since 1995. His replacement Louis Van Gaal had fared better in the season after as he had managed them to reach the UCL by finishing 4th but they were knocked out in the first round and finished 5th and again had missed the UCL. David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal had failed miserably that had led to the appointment of Jose Mourinho.
Jose Mourinho had managed to achieve a rare feat during his first season with Manchester United as he had become the first Manchester United manager to win a trophy in the first season when they had clinched the League Cup by beating Southampton in the final and another first too had been achieved by Jose Mourinho as he had lead Manchester United to UEL final for the first time in their history. Since they had been in the final of UEL, Jose Mourinho had given up hope on the Premier League 4th place and now fully focused on the final of the UEL. Since 2014 – 2015 season onward winners of UEL will qualify at least to the playoff round or qualified directly to the group stages. They will be another feat that will be achieved by Jose if he had led Manchester United to win the UEL. If Manchester United won the UEL this year then they will become the first English team to win all 3 UEFA Club Competition plus the Intercontinental Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup that even the great Liverpool in the 70’s and 80’s had not achieved. Since this win will give a history-making feat hence Jose Mourinho had relinquished his hope for the top 4 spot in the Premier League.
Ajax Amsterdam meanwhile is a club that had gained a legendary status in the world football. The player like Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Ruud Kroll plus their legendary manager Rinus Michel had introduced to the world the Total Football style of play during the club heyday. This had made them the first team since Real Madrid in 50’s to win 3 consecutive UCL title in 1971-1973 and earned them the right to keep trophy permanently. After the glorious spell, they had some dull spell in European Football until in 1994 under Louis Van Gaal they had conquered Europe with a UCL win by beating AC Milan in the final. The team of Louis Van Gaal is vibrant youth team and had entertained Europe during this time with the player that will earn a legendary in each club like Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Edwin Van der Saar plus with the experienced player like Frank Rijkaard and Daley Blind. They had reached the final again in the following year but had been beaten by Juventus and that was their last European Cup final. A win for them will give a great boost for their young players and give a great confidence in achieving on what their predecessor had done before.
In the UCL that will be held between Juventus and Real Madrid, they are also some intriguing prospect on it. Juventus in the past had become the first European team to win all 3 UEFA Club Competition by winning the UCL in 1985, UEFA Cup in 1977 and UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1984. Under their legendary player like Michel Platini, Michel Laudrup, Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli and managed by Giovanni Trapattoni they had conquered domestic and European football.However, Juventus also has another record as they had become the team that had lost the most final overtaking Benfica when they had lost the final in 2015 against Barcelona. Before Juventus, Benfica had lost the most final in 1963,1965,1968,1988 and 1990 in total 5 times. Juventus had lost the final 6 times where they had lost in 1973,1983,1997,1998,2003 and 2015. Juventus will want to avoid another lost in this final and will want to become the first Italian team to lift the trophy since 2010 when InterMilan had won it that year. Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will want to win this trophy before he retired from football.
However, if compared with Manchester United, Juventus, and Ajax Amsterdam Real Madrid will make historical feat in European Football and cements their legendary status if they had won. Real Madrid in the past under their visionary President Santiago Bernabeu makes Real Madrid the best team the world as they had bought their best player during that time like Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa, Santamaria and wants them to win all the competition that they had participated.The results during 50’s and 60’s, they not only become the best club in Europe but also in the world when they had lifted the UCL 6 times including 5 consecutive times starting from 1955 until 1960 and also win it again in 1966. In 1960 on the first edition of the Intercontinental Cup Real Madrid become the first club to win the trophy by beating Uruguay club Penarol in the final.
If Real Madrid had won the UCL 2017 they will achieve 2 feats. They will become the first team since Arrigo Sacchi AC Milan to win the trophy in 2 consecutive times a feat that had been failed to be matched by AC Milan in 1995, Ajax Amsterdam in 1996, Juventus in 1997 and Manchester United in 2009. Another feat also they will become the first team to win the trophy consecutive time twice. A feat that had not been done by any European club team until now. The team like Bayern Munich, Ajax Amsterdam, Liverpool, Benfica, Nottingham Forest, InterMilan and AC Milan may have won the trophy consecutively but they only did this feat once and no team had won consecutively twice.
The final of both UEL and UCL will be closure for the 2016-2017 season European football and all these teams had some historical feat to achieve if they had won it. For UEL final, Manchester United is the favorites as Jose Mourinho on his illustrious managerial career had not lost a European final and has a good record against Ajax Amsterdam each time he meet them. Real Madrid is the favorites since they are the defending champion but Ajax and Juventus are not a pushover and will absolutely give a tough match in the final. Let’s hope this final will be classic to remember in a long time.