LONDON (AP) - Manchester United will enjoy the welcome distraction of Champions League football this week, taking on Greek side Olympiakos in the round of 16.
It has been a difficult season domestically with sixth-placed United knowing that qualification next year for Europe’s elite club competition only looks possible through winning it this year. United performed impressively in the group stage, beating Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 away. Also Tuesday, last year’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund travels to Russia to play Zenit St. Petersburg.
Here are four things to know about this week’s round of 16 first leg action:
OLYMPIAKOS vs. MANCHESTER UNITED
Wayne Rooney, who has signed a contract extension to 2019, is set to lead United’s charge at Olympiakos on Tuesday.
“Everybody wants to win it and we’ll try to do it,” United manager David Moyes said. “Teams don’t want to play Manchester United. I hope we can play well enough to get through this round and see what happens next.”
January signing Juan Mata is not available, having already featured for Chelsea in the competition but teenage midfielder Adnan Januzaj provides an alternative. Marouane Fellaini, who had been out injured since December, returned from injury in a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday and could play.
Olympiakos beat OFI 4-0 on Saturday but striker Marko Scepovic, who scored a hat trick, is ineligible and fellow striker Javier Saviola was substituted after 33 minutes with an injured left thigh and misses the game.
ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG vs. BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Last year’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund has its first ever meeting on Tuesday with Zenit St. Petersburg on the back of a 3-0 loss against second-from-bottom Hamburg.
Midfielder Nuri Sahin dismissed claims that the defeat could have an adverse impact on the team.
“We won our very difficult Champions League group (with Marseille, Napoli and Arsenal) so we can approach the last-16 stage with confidence,” Sahin said. “This defeat against Hamburg doesn’t change a thing.”