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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Can Manchester United Turn It Round Against Olympiakos?

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More gloom settled over Old Trafford after a bad defeat in Greece but what are the chances that David Moyes could still salvage something from what has become a car wreck of a season?

The statistics for European two leg ties don't  carry much consolation for Red Devils supporters. Across the years, teams winning home legs 2-0 tend to qualify 75% of the time. That's about 5% better than teams winning 3-1- so the absence of the away goal isn't quite as important as it seems.

Starting off with a 25% chance of getting through is a very uncomfortable position for United- but the opposition needs to be taken into account. As Liverpool fans know, the Greek team are historically bad travellers who can be put under pressure in a second leg atmosphere, when the home fans turn up the heat.

Steven Gerrard's performance against Olympiakos the 2004/05 campaign  has taken on almost mythical status on Merseyside. Liverpool were only 1-0 down from their first leg but the visitors scored first at Anfield. That just set up a storming three-goal comeback in the second half.

In recent seasons Olympiakos have regularly crossed swords with English clubs at group or knockout stage. The pattern is nearly always the same- competitive in Piraeus but beaten in England.

Olympiakos may be storming away at the top of their domestic league but they do have a mental hurdle to overcome at Old Trafford.  Since 2010 they have visited Arsenal three times and left London defeated each time. They lost at Chelsea in 2008, Newcastle in 2005, at Old Trafford in 2002 and 2003, Liverpool in 2001 . . . not a record to inspire confidence.

Even with a two-goal advantage and Man United's poor form, it's worth a punt on the English side. Most firms have Olympiakos at odds-on but its possible to get 2/1 on United to qualify with some companies, though most are posting 7/4

To Qualify:

Olympiakos        4/11

Man United         2/1

Odds from Ladbrokes

Article by Hugh Larkin

Calling all Manchester United fans: Do you think you can turn it round in the second leg? We'd love to hear from you.


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