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Olympiacos Tie Offers David Moyes Chance to Brighten Manchester United's Season

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  David Moyes manager of Manchester United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on December 15, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentJune 14, 2016

David Moyes will fancy his chances.

Fancy his chances of knocking Olympiacos out of the Champions League and, with it, giving Manchester United fans something to look forward to in March and April.

The final months of the season are usually celebration time for United supporters. There are titles to collect and trophies to lift.

But this season is different.

Their chances of retaining the Premier League title have all but ended with five defeats in their first 16 games. The focus in the run-in this season is more likely to centre on whether United can finish in the top four.

They could always qualify for next season's Champions League by winning it this year. And at times that has seemed more likely than their chances of winning the Premier League this season.

FARO, PORTUGAL - JULY 27: Roy Carroll of Olympiacos in action during a pre-Season friendly match between Newcastle United and Olympiacos on July 27, 2012 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

United aren't among the favourites to win Europe's top club competition, and with good reason. But they will be backed to make it into the last eight after they were paired with Olympiacos in the second round at the draw in Nyon on Monday.

Olympiacos, who sit top of the Greek league, are no mugs. They finished behind Paris Saint-Germain in their group but edged out last season's Europa League finalists Benfica to qualify for the knockout rounds.

They shouldn't be taken lightly, even if they do have 36-year-old former United goalkeeper Roy Carroll on their books.

That said, United should still progress.

MANCHESTER - OCTOBER 1: Ryan Giggs of Man Utd scores the first goal during the Manchester United v Olympiakos UEFA Champions League phase one, Group F match at Old Trafford on October 1, 2002 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Imag
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Moyes will be desperate to use a run deep into the Champions League to brighten up what is threatening to be a dismal season by United's standards.

There were some United fans who looked at Moyes' limited record in Europe and wrote off this Champions League campaign. But it might just end up being the former Everton manager's biggest success in his first season at Old Trafford.

Safely past Olympiacos and into the last eight, anything can happen. United might get Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. But they could get Zenit St Petersburg or Milan. Someone might cause an upset and the draw might open up; you never know.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  David Moyes manager of Manchester United applauds the travelling fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on December 15, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Moyes won't want to look beyond Olympiacos just yet, but he'll be buoyed by United's record.

Drawn in the same group in 2001 and 2002, United won all four games, scoring 12 goals and conceding twice.

United made life easy for themselves by topping their Champions League group, but drawing Olympiacos is a welcome bit of luck for Moyes. It could have been Milan or a lengthy trip to Russia to play Zenit.

The Champions League is a hard competition to win and because of that, the threshold for success is slightly lower. Reaching the semifinals would represent a job well done for Moyes in what might be an otherwise difficult season.

Drawing Olympiacos gives the United manager a fantastic chance to reach the quarterfinals at the first attempt. From there, anything is possible.

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