Olympiakos vs Man Utd Preview, Team News, Likely Line-Ups, Key Man + Prediction
Man Utd take on Olympikos at the Karaiskakis Stadium this evening in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. Here’s a preview for the game.
Manchester United are in Greece to take on Olympikos at the Karaiskakis Stadium this evening in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
Despite their poor domestic form, United cruised through to the knockout stages in Europe having topping Group A with four wins from their six group games, and they had one of the best defences in the competition, conceding just three goals so far.
The Red Devils head into the game having beaten Crystal Palace 2-0 on Saturday but they still remain 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool, so United’s best chance of playing in the Champions League next season may actually be to go and win it this year.
Although they were handed a favourable draw for the last 16, David Moyes men will face a tricky trip to Greece for tonight’s first leg with Olympiakos currently sitting 20-points clear at the top of the Super League and have only tasted defeat twice all season – both coming against PSG in Europe.
The Karaiskakis Stadium also has one of the most hostile crowds in Europe, so Moyes will be hoping that won’t affect the performance of his players this evening as he looks to take a positive result back to Manchester ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford.
Olympikos are without Javier Saviola after the striker picked up a thigh problem at the weekend. Young striker Marko Scepovic has put himself in the frame to replace the Argentinean after coming off the bench to grab a hat-trick on Saturday, but boss Michel Gonzalez is likely to stick with Michael Olaitan up top.
Nelson Valdez is expected to miss out once again but Jose Holebas could return to the team tonight. Star striker Kosta Mitroglu was sold to Fulham in January but on-loan Arsenal forward Joel Campbell is expected to feature. Former United keeper Roy Carroll is likely to be on the bench.
Man Utd will be without defensive duo Phil Jones and Jonny Evans after they were both left back in Manchester nursing injuries that kept them out of the Palace game.
However, Rafael came through a late fitness test on Monday and is likely to come back in at right-back meaning Chris Smalling can move into the middle if Moyes wants to give Rio Ferdinand a rest having seen him complete his first 90 minutes of 2014.
Juan Mata is ineligible to play having already featured for Chelsea in the group stages, so Antonio Valencia is likely to come in.
Wayne Rooney: The striker was back on the score-sheet for the first time in six games at the weekend and he will be hungry for more after signing a lucrative new contract extension at Old Trafford.
Olympikos 0-1 Man Utd: The Greeks have a formidable record at home but United have won their previous four games against them and have a mean defence in Europe, so we’re backing the English side to edge it.
What team would you start and what’s your predicted score? Share your views below.
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