Man Utd vs Olympiakos – Live On ITV 1
Man Utd take on Olympiakos in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie on Tuesday night. Moyes will…
Man Utd take on Olympiakos in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie on Tuesday night. Moyes will be desperate for a good result to set the Red Devils up for the return match at Old Trafford in mid March.
Update: Team line-ups are announced. This is how they shape up;
16 Jiménez Gago
01 de Gea
25 Antonio Valencia
20 van Persie
When Olympiakos’ name was pulled out of the hat in December as the team United would face in the last 16 of Europe’s elite competition, there was palpable relief all round. In a season full of defeat and disappointment the thought of playing against the Greek side at this stage of the competition was seen as the silver lining of a rather large cloud. In facing Olympiakos, Moyes’ men had managed to avoid tricky ties against the likes of AC Milan and Galatasaray and would face a team that the Red Devils had never lost to in this competition.
Fast forward two months and United have endured a torrid start to 2014. The New Year began with three consecutive defeats and no longer can the manager wheel out the excuse of ‘rotten luck’, with an attacking line up of Rooney, Van Persie, Januzaj and Mata all fit. Unfortunately the latter of this awesome foursome will not be available on Tuesday night, having featured for Chelsea in the competition already this season.
Suddenly the tie doesn’t look such a ‘gimme’ against an Olympiakos side which has won 24 of their 26 league games this season. The Greek side are running away with their domestic league, they sit 20 points clear at the summit and have a goal difference of +69 (a better goals per game ratio than Man City have managed in the Premier League). They have proved to be no pushovers in Europe either, having finished second in their Champions League group, beating Benfica 3-1 in the final group game and condemning the talented Portuguese side to the Europa League.
However the loss of their main striker, Kostas Mitroglou, to Fulham in January was a big blow for Olympiakos. Coach Michel will be hoping that Javier Saviola (remember him?) will be fit enough to play a part, as in the Argentinian the Greek side boast an experienced international striker who can still deliver on the big occasion.
Anything less than a win may be deemed to be a failure for United on Tuesday night but Moyes’ men would do well to come away from Athens without a defeat ahead of the second leg.
Juan Mata is cup tied so Antonio Valencia may be brought in to replace the Spaniard on the flank. United will wait on the fitness of Rafeal who missed out on the win away to Crystal Palace on Saturday. Evans and Jones miss out with injury.
Javier Saviola is struggling to prove his fitness for Olympiakos so Scepovic may be given the chance to build on his hat trick last weekend.
What They Said
Roy Carroll, former United keeper now warming the bench at Olympiakos: “They look nervous. Every time you watch them this season you just feel that the opposition will score. It’s weird – you don’t associate that with Manchester United.”
David Moyes, beleaguered United boss: “Teams don’t want to play Manchester United. They know what it stands for as they have been successful. I hope we can play well enough to get through this round and see what happens next.”
Don’t expect free flowing football and lots of goals. Moyes will be happy to get back to Manchester with a draw. 1-1.