Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Olympiakos draw is a festive gift for Manchester United

Pointing the way: David Moyes' boys should cruise into the Champions League quarter-finals

Manchester United got the pre-Christmas Champions League gift by drawing Greek opponents Olympiakos for a place in the last eight.

United and David Moyes have had their problems this season but not in Europe and 1/4 to qualify is a present all wrapped and ready for collection.

Not so for Man City, but it would be foolish to rule them out against Barcelona after that result over Bayern Munich and then following it up by tanking Arsenal in the Premier League.

There are few teams who'll beat them at the Etihad Stadium and there's no reason why they can't take a lead into the second leg in Spain.

Barcelona have been pushed out to 11/2 for outright success and it's a similar story with Munich, currently a generous 11/4 to win Europe's biggest prize for a second time in succession – something no team has managed since Milan back in 1998-99.

Forget that Bayern lapse when losing 3-2 to City.

They had already qualified and once going into a 2-0 lead, took their eye off the ball. It was the same last season when beating Arsenal on the away goals at this stage last season.

Munich had secured the tie at the Emirates just as they did with City at the Etihad Stadium, making the return legs merely academic.

The Germans are still the team to beat and are confidently expected to be in the last eight.

Bookmakers go 20/1 for an English full house, namely all four to make the quarters but that should be given short shift. Only Chelsea can be taken to join United in the next stage and evens for both to be there, represents a solid wager.

Jose Mourinho's boys renew acquaintance with Didier Drogba who scored the winning penalty for Chelsea in the 2012 final against Bayern.

But he should not be a barrier to the Blues marching on.

Those who fancy an all-British final can have 14/1 while those who believe all four have reached the end of the road, are offered 25/1.

English clubs to qualify for the quarter-finals: 25/1 none; 4/1 one; evens two; 9/4 three and 20/1 four.

English clubs to reach final: 4/7 none; 6/4 one; 16/1 two; 7/2 all-Spanish final; 8/1 all-German.

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