How Manchester United Will Line Up Against Olympiakos

Scott Rom@@R_o_MFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

How Manchester United Will Line Up Against Olympiakos

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    With Manchester United's season going from bad to worse, fans breathed a sigh of relief when they were drawn against Olympiacos in the first knock out stage of the Champions League. The thought of playing against the likes of Bayern Munich or Barcelona was fairly terrifying but surely even this United side should be able to win comfortably against Olympiacos.

    However, a shock 2-0 defeat with star man Adnan Januzaj left at home was the final nail in David Moyes' coffin for some supporters.

    You would imagine that winning 2-0 in the return leg to force the game to extra time or 3-0 to go through wouldn't be too difficult. However, if you look at United's results at Old Trafford in all competitions this season, they've only won by at least three goals on one occasion.

    So, following on from yet another home defeat at the weekend, how will Moyes line up his side to try and save United's season, and possibly his job, to reach the next round?

De Gea in Goal

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    David de Gea has been one of the few players who has had a good season for Manchester United this season. He has only missed two games in all competitions and has been a solid performer.

    Against Olympiacos, he is the only contender for a spot between the sticks.

Same Back Four

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    United have little choice to stick with the same back four that played against Liverpool because of injuries. Rafael da Silva at right-back, one of the few players that showed any passion for the home side on Sunday, with Patrice Evra on the opposite flank.

    There is the option of going with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the centre of defence but that would give them no pace at the back. Vidic will be suspended for the next league game, given that his wrongful sending off after Daniel Sturridge's dive came as a second yellow and therefore is not eligible for appeal, so he might as well be used for Olympiacos. 

    Phil Jones, who gave away the crucial second penalty on Sunday, will hoping to keep his head in tomorrow night's clash.

Fletcher and Cleverley in Midfield

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    There isn't a single popular or successful central midfield pairing for United this season, so Moyes might as well pick this position from a hat. Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley are more rested than the other options. They also aren't as slow as the other options. Does that give them a starting place by default?

    Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini were the preferred choice against Liverpool. Despite Carrick's average form, Moyes is probably unwilling to drop a player who he seemingly believes can add stability to the midfield though.

    Phil Jones would have been a good option but injuries to Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans mean he will be needed in defence.

Welbeck and Valencia out Wide

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    United were crying out for some speed to get behind Liverpool's back four at the weekend. The introduction of Danny Welbeck came far too late in the game. With Vidic sent off, United were just playing for damage limitation, rather than to try and salvage anything from the game.

    Moyes is unlikely to drop Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney, despite both having a bad game on Sunday. This means Welbeck could be shoved out on the left. Of course, this isn't where he's most effective, but United could certainly do with his work rate when they are so desperate for a result.

    Antonio Valencia hasn't played since the first leg against Olympiacos but, again, his pace and willingness to win back possession could be important. 

Rooney and Van Persie Up Front

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    Rooney and Van Persie were both disappointing in their last game. The former kept attempting Hollywood passes, which resulted in him repeatedly giving away possession, whilst the latter couldn't find the target from a few yards out on a number of occasions. This didn't matter too much though because he was offside when the ball came to him. 

    Still, in a must win game, Moyes has got little choice but to play the club's best two strikers. Javier Hernandez should be an option from the bench, but with so little game time, it would be unusual to start him in a game of such importance.