Olympiakos vs. Manchester United: Prediction, Preview, Live Stream and TV Info

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk at Old Trafford on December 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

After a thrilling opening week of action in the Champions League last 16, which saw PSG, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid all win away from home, English champions Manchester United visit runaway Greek Super League leaders Olympiakos hoping to do the same. 

David Moyes' team will be feeling more confident after their victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday, but the Greek leaders will give his side something different to contend with.

Olympiakos are destroying their opposition on the domestic front. They are 20 points clear in the title race and are undefeated in league competition in 2013/14, having won 24 matches and drawn only twice, per WhoScored.com. They also have a massive goal difference of plus-69 and have only conceded on nine occasions. 


When: Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7:45 p.m. GMT (2:45 p.m. ET)

Where: Karaiskakis Stadium, Athens, Greece.

Watch: ITV / ITV HD / ITV Player 


Key Storylines

ATHENS,GREECE - FEBRUARY 5:  Olympiacos F.C. players celebrate during the Greek Superleague  match between Olympiacos F.C. and Panionios GSS at the Karaiskaki Stadium on February  5, 2014 in Piraeus near Athens. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/EuroFootball/Getty
EuroFootball/Getty Images

The Champions League has become Moyes' possible saving grace as the tournament kicks back into life in February. If the Red Devils don't win the competition, they can't expect to be in it next year.

After the complete failure of his United team in England this term, the most elite of European competitions offers Moyes the chance to please the United faithful and deliver them their regular dose of glory.

But Olympiakos won't be an easy challenge for the Premier League winners. Their form has been sensational this season, and they will fancy their chances of progressing to the quarterfinals. 

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 06: Roy Carroll of Derby County shouts to his defenders during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Derby County at Goodison Park on 6 April  2008 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Ima
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Former United goalkeeper Roy Carroll now plays for Olympiakos, and he recently proclaimed that his side are ready for the challenge of beating his former club, per Tom Rostance of BBC Sport:

They look nervous. Every time you watch them this season you just feel that the opposition will score. It's weird - you don't associate that with Manchester United. They are having a bad time of it at the moment and our players have belief in themselves. We believe we can do well in these two games, and we feel we can get at them.

We are hoping to keep a clean sheet at home in the first leg and if we can do that we back ourselves to score at Old Trafford. We have been working on United's defensive problems in recent days; that's what we have to do. You have seen all season that they have been chopping and changing at the back.

As a goalkeeper I know the effect of not having a settled back four and we have seen that from United this year. It's a different back four every game.

Carroll's assessment is no surprise, and many have fully taken advantage of United's transition after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. You can expect a keen Olympiakos side to try to highlight United's frailties at the back.

However, they too are less strong than they were during the group stages due to the sale of Kostas Mitroglou. The striker scored 16 goals for the club this season before his departure to Fulham, per WhoScored.com. He will be sorely missed and would have been relied upon to cause United some significant damage. 

Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

Olympiakos are hoping that experienced campaigner Javier Saviola will have recovered from a thigh injury in time to face the Red Devils, but they have lost the services of striker Marko Scepovic, who recently smashed a hat-trick over the weekend.

United will be without the cup-tied Juan Mata, who will remain back in Manchester. The articulate player writes his own blog and commented on his club's opponents, via Manchester United's official website:

They have signed two good players, Valdez and Hernán Pérez. Olympiakos have a Spanish flavour with several players that have been in La Liga: Roberto, Saviola, Chori, David Fuster and Joel Campbell. The same can be said about the staff: the manager is Míchel, whom I met in Real Madrid Castilla.



LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  Robin Van Persie of Manchester United jumps for joy as he celebrates the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on February 22, 2014 in London, Engl
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Predicting scorelines for Manchester United has become an impossible task this season, as their form spirals out of control on an almost weekly basis. However, there are positive indicators for United for this specific tie.

The club's injury list is slowly but surely receding, with both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney now available for selection. With the imminent return of both Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, United's core will be strengthened further, although they are unlikely for this contest.

Marouane Fellaini also put in a useful shift against Crystal Palace and showed he could be vital for United in the coming weeks.

Olympiakos must take advantage of their home position in the first leg, but you can expect United to feel comfortable as the away team on the counter-attack. The Red Devils are not suddenly a bad team but more like a side who have lost direction. Away from Old Trafford, they have looked comfortable in their own skin, and a trip to Greece will not faze them.

However, it will not be an open affair, and Moyes will try to keep it solid in the middle. He will be happy with a score draw and the opportunity to finish his opponents off back in Manchester.

Olympiakos 1-1 Manchester United.