Having won their group, United had put themselves into a relatively safe position as they could not be drawn against the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid or Barcelona and they’ll go into the round of 16 fancying their chances to reach the quarter finals for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
Olympiacos finished runners-up in Group C, three points behind group winners PSG and qualified on goal difference having finished equal on points with Benfica.
Michel’s men got their Champions League campaign off to the wrong start as they suffered a 4-1 defeat on home turf at the hands of PSG, before steadying the ship with an away win at Anderlecht and a draw at Benfica, followed by a home win over the Portuguese.
A narrow defeat away at PSG was followed by a 3-1 win over Anderlecht which clinched their spot in the last 16 but they’ll undoubtedly be the underdogs against United, particularly given the solidity Moyes’ club has shown in Europe so far this season.
United will be reunited with Roy Carroll, with the Northern Irishman who left now in his second season with Athens’ red and whites – his third overall in Greece after spell at OFI Crete -but will have to keep an eye on former Barca striker Javier Saviola and, more importantly, Kostas Mitroglou.
The 25-year-old striker caught the headlines as he netted a hat-trick in his side’s 3-0 win away at Anderlecht on Champions League matchday two this season – his third hat-trick in less than a month – and was instrumental as Greece reached the World Cup finals, after knocking Romania out in the play-offs.
United, however, will enter the knockout tie on the back of an excellent record, as they have won all four of their previous meetings with Olympiacos, all of them coming at the group stage of the competition.
In the 2001-02 season, David Beckham and Andy Cole scored in a 2-0 win in Athens, before late goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ryan Giggs and Ruud Van Nistelrooy sealed a 3-0 win at Old Trafford, while 12 months later United put four past the Greek side at home – Ryan Giggs scoring twice, with Juan Sebastian Veron and Diego Forlan also on the scoresheet – but needed a late winner from Paul Scholes to secure a 3-2 win in Athens, after they had squandered a two-goal lead.
United have got they draw they wanted, no time for complacency now.
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Tags: Manchester United News