Man United must beware dangerous Greek strike-force
Manchester United have won all four of their previous games against Olympiakos in European competition and will be expecting to maintain that dominance on their way to the Champions League quarter-finals, but they will need to beware the Greek attack.
Olympiakos are in a similar position to Celtic at the moment; in a different class to their domestic rivals, but then usually finding the heavyweights of Europe too much for them.
Their record in Greek’s Super League is pretty formidable – 24 wins, two draws and no defeats and 20 points clear of their nearest rivals – and they have also knocked in an average of three goals a game, while conceding only one in three.
Of course, it was a different story in the Champions League group phase and they only just scrambled through to the knock-out stages behind PSG with the same points as Benfica.
But they scored at least once in every game, even when thrashed at home by PSG, and United, hardly the tightest ship at the back these days, will do well to keep them out.
Konstantinos Mitroglou, their top scorer, was sold to Fulham last month and Javier Saviola is out with a thigh injury, but Michael Olaitan has netted eight times in 15 games this season, while they have also recently added the much-travelled Paraguayan international Nelson Valdez (84 career goals in 371 games) to their strike force.
United, now 7/1 with Coral to finish in the top four with Liverpool still 11 points ahead of them following last weekend’s results, are beginning to see winning the Champions League outright (18/1) as the most realistic way of getting back into the competition next season, although the odds don’t quite back up that view yet.
Certainly, with Wayne Rooney back in the fold and Robin van Persie back in the goals, the Reds have good reason to be optimistic of at least keeping the hopes alive on both fronts for a few more weeks at least.
The cup-tied Juan Mata won’t be in Piraeus to supply the bullets for the front two to fire, but United should still have the class to negotiate what has always looked a tricky, but far from insurmountable, challenge.
Both teams to score and United to win at Coral’s 21/5 looks a decent call, as does evens both teams to find the net.