Back Man Utd to halt flying Olympiakos
Greek Super League leaders Olympiakos are on a role this season, as they are unbeaten in all domestic competitions, with their only two defeats coming in the Champions League – both to PSG in the group stages.
Remarkably, the club from Piraeus have failed to win just seven times in all their matches this current campaign and certainly go into their home tie with Manchester United with a great deal of confidence. Back them at 12/5 to beat the Red Devils, while the away side have enticing odds of 5/4 for a victory.
With 13 goals in their last three league games, Olympiakos certainly know how to attack. However, they will have to make do without the likes of this season’s leading scorer Kostas Mitroglu (sold to Fulham), current club goal-topper Javier Saviola (injured) and new recruit Marko Scepovic (unregistered) – who hit a hat-trick in his club’s last league fixture.
Contrary to some top sporting website reports, Scepovic is not cup-tied, but rather simply just not registered. UEFA rules state that a club may include an additional three players to their Champions League squad – providing the total is 25 or under – and have not played in the European group stages in the same season.
Serbian Scepovic was involved in the competition’s qualifying rounds for Partizan Belgrade, meaning he would have been eligible if picked. Olympiakos, instead, chose to include January signings Ivan Marcano, Hernan Perez and Nelson Valdez to their 25-man squad.
That leaves just 21-year-old Michael Olaitan as the only fully fit forward, with Valdez’s return from injury still unsure. Manager Michel has stated, on his Paraguayan striker, only that “he’s alive and that’s all I am telling you”.
As Manchester United have conceded just once in the Champions League this season – losing none – Olympiakos’ depleted attack could severely hinder their chances of upsetting this domestic-struggling Red Devils side.
History points towards a win for David Moyes’ side, as they have won all four head-to-heads with the Greek club, but United were more of a dominant force back then.
A certain Ryan Giggs, who is three games away from Real Madrid legend Raul’s 142-game Champions League appearance record, was a starter in all those matches. On top of his 100 per cent winning ratio against Olympiakos, he also scored three times in those four fixtures. You can back him at 6/1 to open his account for the season at anytime.
It seems that this encounter will be much closer than the heavy United victories of the past, especially with Juan Mata cup-tied and Jonny Evans and Phil Jones still injured. But the Red Devils should just nick this. Back them at 11/2 to win 1-0, or 9/1 for 2-1.