The Blades pre-season preparations have gone well under new boss David Weir. They had undertaken a tour of Scotland where they won at Greenock Morton (1-0) and Raith Rovers (2-1) whilst drawing 1-1 at Cowdenbeath. Upon their return to England they won 3-1 at Bury and 1-0 at Mansfield Town last Saturday – Febian Brandy netting as early as the third minute, finishing off Darryl Westlake’s slick cross to net his first goal for the club.
United still however have two more friendlies to undertake before hosting Nott’s County live on Sky next Friday (kick-off: 7:45pm). They face their Greek opponents tonight before setting off to York City tomorrow (3pm) at Bootham Crescent where former Blade Richard Cresswell may line-up to face them.
The friendly with the Athens side will give home supporters the opportunity to witness the new signings and the new manager David Weir. In just his short spell at the club he has already made six signings; Febian Brandy (from Walsall), Stephen McGinn (Watford), Sean McGinty (Manchester United), Jasper Johns (Everton), Lyle Taylor (Falkirk) and Connor Coady who joined on loan from Liverpool – all could play their first games at the Lane tonight.
However they will be without, Shaun Miller (crucial ligament damage), Danny Higginbotham, Diego De Girolama (knee) and Tony McMahon (Achilles) who are all sidelined through injury.
Possible Starting 11:
Westlake Maguire Collins Williams
McGinn Doyle (c) McDonald Murphy
Atomitos Athens FC
Tonight’s opponents, Atromitos Athens FC are somewhat of the unknown. They finished fourth in the Greek Super League (Greek Premier League) finishing 31 points behind Champions Olympiakos who have become somewhat masters in their domestic league. It’s also best to mention they did exceptionally better than their City rivals; AEK Athens who, managed by former Blade Traianos Dellas were relegated.
Atomistos were formed in May 1923 and were promoted to the Super League in 2009 after winning the Football League, but struggle with just a small ground which holds 10,000 (compared to AEK’s 69,000 stadium).
They have very rarely entered any European competitions; in 2006 they were beaten in the first round of the old UEFA Cup by Spaniards Sevilla 6-1 on aggregate and last season were defeated in the preliminary rounds 2-1 (on aggregate) by Newcastle United and will play in the same competition again this season and will face German side Eintracht Frankfurt over two legs and aim to be in the final at Juventus come May 2014.
Domestically, Atromitos have never won the Super League or their domestic; however they were runners-up for two years running in 2011 and 2012. Managed by George Donis who was a Sheffield United player during the 1998-99 campaign spearheaded them to the finals only to be defeat by City rivals AEK (2011) by three goals to nil and a year later by Olympiakos 2-1 after extra time.
They embarked on a tour of England this summer, starting with a 2-1 defeat at FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic which was played at Leigh Centurians Rugby Ground, Karamanos scored for the Greeks. They face Sheffield United tonight at the Lane before finally against Premiership opposition West Bromwich Albion, to be played at Shrewsbury Town's New Meadow stadium on 29 July.