Olympiakos welcome EPL strugglers Manchester United to the Karaiskakis Stadium for the 1st leg of the Round of 16 on Tuesday. Olympiakos will be looking to cause the first upset in the Champions League against Manchester United as it’s very much a tale of two different seasons for both sides.
While Manchester United lie in sixth position 11 points behind fourth placed Liverpool in the EPL, Olympiakos are 20 points clear in the title race and are undefeated in 26 Super League games, having won 24 matches and drawn only twice.
Although Man Utd are lucky to play Olympiakos rather than a bigger side like Galatasaray or AC Milan, David Moyes’ side cannot be given the benefit of doubt due to the woeful season they have experienced so far. Also, the Greek club have only lost twice outside their domestic campaign this term, both times at the hands of Champions League Group C toppers Paris Saint-Germain.
A major blow for Manchester United will be the unavailability of their latest signing Juan Mata, who is cup-tied. The Spaniard has settled in well even though he has been playing out wide on the right. Manchester United will surely miss an assist or two from the former Chelsea midfielder. On the other hand Wayne Rooney’s commitment to the club and a goal against Crystal Palace on the weekend may provide some respite for Manchester United fans.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll who now plays for Olympiakos proclaimed that his side are ready for the challenge of beating his former club in the Champions League. United’s defensive problems could be taken advantage of as defenders Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are set to miss the game.
But what makes it easier for the English Premier League champions is that the Greek side are bereft of their top marksman – Kostas Mitroglou who joined Fulham in the January transfer window. The Greece international had scored three European goals in five appearances before moving, suggesting this is certainly a less lethal Olympiakos team.
Javier Saviola is the Greek side’s biggest threat in front of goal. If fit for the game, the former Barcelona striker could cause trouble with his pace for the aging legs of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.