Champions League will resume in midweek when Manchester United make the long trip to the Arena Khimki in Moscow , on Wednesday evening. Group B looks evenly poised at this moment in time with all four teams on level terms meaning a win for either side will shake things up a bit, interestingly enough. The Russian side go into this game on the back of a win in their previous game at home against PSV Eindhoven and would look to build on that encouraging form in front of their home support.
Manchester United, opened their Champions League campaign with a defeat in the Netherlands but managed to bounce back with a hard-fought win against German side VfL Wolfsburg at Old Trafford. Following the disastrous loss against Arsenal, the Red Devils found their bearings in the league with a clinical 3-0 win at Everton and enter a crucial period in their season where they face league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City following the Champions League encounter. Qualification to the knock-out stages is absolutely vital for a club of Manchester United’s stature and a win in Russia could provide a massive boost to the chances of achieving it.
For CSKA Moscow, Natcho (head) and Berezutski are ruled out for Manchester United’s visit but Leonid Slutsky will have the rest of his squad to chose from for this crucial group stage fixture.
Van Gaal revealed the team news for the trip to Moscow in his customary pre-game presser. He said,
“It’s the same amount of injuries so Luke Shaw, Paddy McNair and Ashley Young are not going with us, Willo was a little bit ill – Wilson as he is named but, for us, it is Willo – so he shall not travel with us. I’ll take 20 players with me. It’s a four-hour flight so, if a player gets ill, I have the other player in my environment. Of course that was the reason [Romero and Valencia were absent at Everton]. They have to cope with the jet-lag so I didn’t think it was wise to take them with us against Everton.”
Slutski’s men are unbeaten at home in this term’s competition having drawn with AC Sparta Praha (2-2) and beaten Sporting Clube de Portugal (3-1) in the qualifying rounds, then overcome PSV 3-2 on match-day two.
United won their third European Cup at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in 2008, beating Chelsea on penalties.
Zuran Tosic (CSKA) v Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Zuran Tosic is one of the few players in CSKA MOscow’s ranks to create something out of nothing and influence the result of the match with a moment of brilliance. He has already created a goal for CSKA Moscow in this campaign and his link-up with the pacy Seydou Doumbia will play a huge role in causing problems for the visitors.
Chris Smalling has come leaps and bounds for Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal and is one of the best defenders England and Manchester United can boast having in their ranks. His performances have contributed to United’s good record at the back in England and provides the license for midfielders to contribute more to the attacking side of the game which is why his leadership and presence at the back will prove vital for United’s chances of stretching their winning record.
Manchester United have always found it tough in Russia (not in European Cup finals). I could see a draw here.
CSKA Moscow 1-1 Manchester United