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Olympiakos to play Man.United, PAOK draws Benfica

By George Georgakopoulos

Olympiakos will face the might of Manchester United in the round of 16 of the Champions League according to the draw conducted on Monday in Nyon, Switzerland. The first game will take place in Piraeus on February 25, and the return in Manchester on March 19. In the Europa League round of 32 PAOK will clash with Benfica.

Olympiakos coach Michel stated after learning the outcome of the draw that "tough though it may be, there is ample time for us to prepare until then, and try to reduce the gap that currently exists between the two teams. No one can convince us that we have no chances. We are certain we have our own chances and we will do our best," said the former Real Madrid legend.

"Olympiakos fans will have to enjoy these games, and with all the respect we have for Man.United, we will try to match it, and just hope that one day we grow to become like that club one day," Michel added.

Man.United fans had actually shown their preference in Olympiakos in the run-up to the draw.

"This certaily is a very difficult pairing – after all this is the top 16 teams of the competition – but I believe it will all go down to some details in the end," said a confident Avraam Papadopoulos, the Olympiakos and Greece central defender.

"We have to make the most of the fact that the first leg is at home, but we must also remember that this is an English team, and if an English team produces a great spell of 10 or 15 minutes it can destroy you," said Papadopoulos.

The Reds were always destined to face a European giant given that they finished second in their group, so they must have been prepared for a tough draw such as this.

Star striker Javier Saviola had even said before the draw that he had wanted to face Barcelona or Real Madrid.

The draw has also pitted Barcelona against Manchester City and Arsenal against holder Bayern Munich.

In the Europa League PAOK will play the first game against Benfica in Thessaloniki on February 20, with the return in Lisbon a week later.

If PAOK advances it will face the winner of the tie between Dnipro and Tottenham.

ekathimerini.com , Monday December 16, 2013 (13:15)  
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