Manchester United's own Istanbul won't be happening anytime soon

Bayern Allianz Arena

After fighting back to defeat Olympiakos talk was rife that Manchester United could emulate Liverpool's Champions League triumph in 2005. Pulling Bayern out of the hat has put paid to that.

The parallels were there. Manchester United had to score three goals against Olympiacos to progress to the next round of the Champions League, just as Liverpool had had to do against the Greek side in the 2004-05 edition of the competition.

In that season the Anfield turnaround, where Liverpool were required to score three second-half goals just to get out of the group stages, was the turning point in the Reds' European campaign. Steven Gerrard's strike accompanied by Andy Gray's 'ya beauty' never to be forgotten.

From that point on Liverpool, underdogs who were performing poorly domestically, played with nothing to lose. And boy did it show as they proceeded to go on quite a remarkable run, defeating heavyweights Juventus, Chelsea and AC Milan along the way to claim 'old big ears' permanently.

Now though, it is Manchester United who are the underdogs and Liverpool 05' the example that anything can be achieved. While United's squad is a much more talented one than that early Rafael Benitez side, with top class players in Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Juan Mata, their loss of Alex Ferguson and subsequent rapid decline in the league tells of a side without a prayer as they enter the latter stages of the Champions League.

On radio stations, forum boards and social media United fans point to Liverpool's famous Istanbul triumph, that against the odds the Red Devils can win a fourth European Cup. Even David Moyes has been at it, using the Merseyside club's unlikely win as a precedent for what can be achieved.

While all that may have been just wishful thinking, coming across louder and louder the more United stunk it up in the league and with it their ever slimming hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season, there still remains the possibility, however faint, that they could pull off the miraculous and go all the way in Europe.

The reason for such optimism? That a victory would ensure their continued participation in the competition in the short-term, never mind actually winning the trophy itself. The last thing fans want are Kopites lording it over them that they are featuring on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, as United are relegated to potential Thursday evening viewings in the Europa League.

But as they say, in football anything is possible... until you draw Bayern Munich in the next round of the Champions League that is. Any notion of replicating Liverpool and Istanbul went out of the window the moment the Germans were confirmed as United's opponents.

Munich, to put it simply, are unstoppable. When and where it matters, they make it count. That is why the Arsenal results in the Allianz Arena, this season and last, were insignificant. The ties were effectively over by that point. Die Roten's power has been redoubled with the appointment of Pep Guardiola. There isn't such a sure thing in this sport but we may be almost at that point with this draw. Bayern will swat aside United and make Manchester's Liverpool allusions seem full of delusions.

Had Bayern been tasked with traveling to Old Trafford for the second-leg the United fans and Moyes would have been on firmer ground with their argument. As it is, they face a return trip to Bavaria and with it an exit from the playground where Europe's elite love to play.

Do you believe Manchester United can overcome the significant odds and get past Bayern Munich?

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