United’s nightmarish season continues




UEFA Champions League: Olympiakos deal Manchester United another blow

UEFA Champions League: Olympiakos deal Manchester United another blow

Just as you thought Manchester United’s difficult season were back on track, they move back two steps. After an impressive victory at Selhurst Park in the Premier League, it was expected that United would put away Olympiakos with not much effort despite the absence of the cup tied Juan Mata. Instead, they couldn’t register a shot on goal as Olympiakos clearly looked the better team and came away with a 2-0 advantage before the trip to Old Trafford.

When the knockout draws were picked in November, Manchester United fans may have struggled to stop smiling as they couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. While City and Arsenal drew giants in Barcelona and Bayern, United had, by far, a relatively easy opponent. True, Olympiakos are the champions of Greece and haven’t yet lost a domestic game this season, but the Greek league is a complete level below the standards of European football. To be fair to Olympiakos, they progressed through a tough group, having lost only to Paris St. Germain and looked every bit like a team that belonged here.

David Moyes continued surprising everyone with his team selections with Tom Cleverley selected ahead of Maraoune Fellaini, who impressed over the weekend at Crystal Palace while Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia took their places on the wing ahead of Adnan Januazaj and Shinji Kagawa, who has become a perennial benchwarmer this season.

Most of the first half was characterized by a lack of goal scoring opportunities and Chris Smalling slipping on the surface a couple of times. The only chance went to Dominguez but Vidic made a vital block while Tom Cleverley blew United’s best chance by blasting over the bar. As has happened on several instances this season, United fell behind in unfortunate circumstances as Giannis Maniatis shot was deflected into the back of the net by Dominguez.

After the break, United came out looking more determined but were quickly brought back to reality as Joel Campbell, on loan from Arsenal, bent a beautiful curling shot past David De Gea to double the lead. Moyes knew that United needed to score at least an away goal to go into the second leg with some hope and brought on Welbeck and Kagawa to inject some pace and energy into the attack but the Olympiakos defence remained hardly troubled while Smalling tumbled a little more. It was only in the last ten minutes that United showed some purpose and Robin Van Persie had a wonderful opportunity from 12 yards as he uncharacteristically blasted it over the bar. The game ended without any more goals or chances as the Greek side were successful for the first time in the knockout stages in the competition in six attempts.

United, though, will have 3 weeks to recuperate from the shock defeat as they look to overturn a difficult, but not impossible deficit at Old Trafford.

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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