Olympiacos FC will go into their UEFA Champion League round of 16 second leg against Manchester United FC on a high after sealing their 41st league title on Saturday.
With the finishing line in sight, Míchel's charges stumbled over the past couple of weeks as they suffered their first domestic defeats of the season against Panathinaikos FC and PAOK FC. There were no setbacks this weekend, though, as they eased to a 2-0 victory at home to Panthrakikos FC in a game played behind closed doors. They were crowned champions with five rounds of matches to spare.
Olympiacos took command from the start, but it took until 35 minutes to break the deadlock as Nelson Valdez guided in Alejandro Domínguez's free-kick from close range. If that eased nerves among the hosts, any jitters all but vanished six minutes later when Achilleas Sarakatsanos caught Valdez late and was shown a second yellow card for his troubles. Tensions mounted again, however, as Olympiacos toiled in search of a second.
Domínguez was denied by the woodwork and Panthrakikos goalkeeper Giorgos Athanasiadis produced an impressive save to beat away Tassos Papazoglou's header midway through the second period. Time ebbed away before, at the death, Joel Campbell was brought down by Asael Ben Shabat; substitute David Fuster made no mistake from the penalty spot.
"I dedicate this title to my players and their families," said Míchel, celebrating his second league title in 14 months at the club. "To the players for all their hard work, obeying me every time I ask them to be better. And their families for standing by them even when things are bad."
There will be no time for extravagant celebrations though: the "match of the year", as Wednesday's trip to Old Trafford has been dubbed by the Greek press, looms large. Olympiacos lead 2-0 after the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
"After the celebrations and the joy, we will be ready for United," warned Míchel. "The league title will make the trip more enjoyable. But we need to stay focused. If we think we have the upper hand in the tie, we will fail."
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