In the past if you were to see on paper Manchester United versus Olympiakos at Old Trafford you would instantly think that a United win was a certainty. In the context of this season though, that isn’t the case. David Moyes and his side go into Wednesday’s game against the recently crowned Greek champions at a real disadvantage.
Their season has been dreadful and they come into the game having lost 2-0 on Greek soil and having just been mauled by Liverpool in their own backyard, their sixth home defeat of the season in all competitions.
Winning the title has been out of the question for a while and after being knocked out of both cup competitions their only hope of playing in Europe next season is qualifying for the Europa League or winning this competition. A sentence that most fans would have hoped they would never have to read. The players and Moyes will know, like with every game, that the United fans expect nothing less than a win. To seal victory they must do something they have never done before in this competition and that is overturning a two goal deficit. This means players like Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney must prove their worth.
The Greek champions managed by former Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Michel, aren’t the toughest opponent they could have faced at this point in the competition, just ask any Manchester City or Arsenal fan, but what they did show in their first leg victory was an excellent work rate and an ability to take their chances. After sealing their domestic league with an 18 point advantage over second placed Atromitos, they can focus their efforts more towards the Champions League and will fancy their chances against an ailing United team. They come into the game with a two goal cushion and know that if they can grab another, an all-important away goal, then the tie and a place in the quarter-finals will be theirs.
Wednesday is arguably the biggest night in Moyes’ young Manchester United career. If they can overturn their two goal deficit and win the tie, then he will have given the fans hope that the season isn’t a waste and there is something to believe in. If they lose then it will mount further pressure onto his shoulders and mean they haven’t reached a Champions League quarter-final since they were beaten finalists in 2011.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
Past three meetings:
2014: Olympiakos (Dominguez, Campbell) 2-0 Manchester United
2002: Olympiakos 2 (Choutos, Djordjevic) 2-3 Manchester United (Blanc, Veron, Scholes)
2002: Manchester United 4 (Giggs x2, Veron, Solskjaer) 4-0 Olympiakos
Manchester United have never overturned a two goal deficit in the Champions League knockout stages.
Manchester United have only lost once against Greek oppositions, with that loss coming the previous leg of this tie.
Olympiakos won their domestic title at the weekend with an 18 point cushion over second placed Atromitos
Olympiakos’ manager Michel won the then Uefa Cup in consecutive seasons while playing for Real Madrid
If Olympiakos win then they will have reached their first quarter-final since 1999
CLASSIC MOMENT/ MATCH:
In the 2002 group stages of the Champions League, Manchester United thumped Galatasaray 4-0 with goals from Juan Veron, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a double from Ryan Giggs. United started the season in a scruffy manor and were struggling to find any sort of form. But on the night they convincingly outplayed Olympiakos at Old Trafford with the result all but guaranteeing them progression to the round of the 16 of that season’s competition.
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