Having secured just 1 point in the opening two group stage fixtures with a 1-0 loss against Bayern Munich followed by a 1-1 draw at home against Italian side Roma, the Champions are under serious pressure to get their first win of the elite competition they have struggled to make an impact on, in recent seasons.
Manchester City will travel to the Arena Khimki in Russia for the first of the two encounters which will be played in succession and the Citizens should be aiming to make the most of these two relatively easier games in their group, with due respect to CSKA. Manager Manuel Pellegrini sounded confident though acknowledging the significance of the next two games in the Champions league, he said:
“They are two very important games. We need to win both of them, starting in Russia. It will be different [in an empty stadium]. I understand that UEFA has reason but an empty stadium is not the best for both teams. I always think in a positive way [though]. I am sure it’s a very important game but the pressure I feel is not an external pressure from the owners or the fans or the media. The best way to work is to feel you have pressure in every game. I trust a lot that we are going to qualify.If we win our next four games, maybe we can be first [in Group E] but the most important thing is to qualify.”
CSKA Moscow, troubled by supporter issues off the field, will be playing their next three European fixtures behind closed doors.They are also under considerable pressure to get a result against the visitors. Having lost both the opening games this season they find themselves at the bottom of Group E; the Russian side will be determined to get their first points on board against familiar opponents that is Manchester City. The home side has hit the ground running in the domestic scene though – they are placed second in their league and will resume their European campaign in good spirits, after the 6-0 thrashing of fellow Russian side Krasnodar.
In terms of selection, Frank Lampard is likely to miss out because of a thigh injury which saw his stretchered off, but it is expected that Yaya Toure will be reinstated to the starting lineup after being rested for the resounding over Tottenham Hotspur. Elsewhere, Pablo Zabaleta should claim his berth as usual at right-back replacing Bacary Sagna while forward Edin Dzeko may partner in form striker Sergio Aguero, who netted all four goals in the victory over Spurs, to lead the line. Mangala could be unavailable for selection due to a stomach illness.
As for the home side, they will be without their play-maker and main man Alan Dzagoev and Swedish defender Pontus Wernbloom because of suspensions. Musa and Doumbia are expected to start the game up top come Tuesday. Long-term absentees Rasmus Elm (stomach), Vitinho (ankle) and Kirill Panchenko (knee) are still sidelined. Mário Fernandes was substituted after nine minutes on Saturday with an elbow injury.
These two teams met in the group stages last season, with City coming away victorious on both the occasions. In Moscow, ex-Manchester United forward Zoran Tosic, put the home outfit in front, but two goals from Aguero sealed all three points for the English champions. CSKA have hosted English opposition on five occasions in total and have wins over Aston Villa and Arsenal under their belt.
Man City: DWWDWW
CSKA have won their last six domestic encounters, including a 2-1 triumph at second-tier FC Khimik Dzerzhinsk in the Russian Cup round of 32 on 24th September.
City are six games unbeaten since their 1-0 loss to Bayern on matchday one.
Ahmed Musa – CSKA Moscow
Ahmed Musa has become a vital player, spearheading CSKA’s attack with the forward finding the net on a more regular basis both in domestic and European encounters. The Nigerian has been played in several positions in the final third by the manager – down the left of a three, up top as the lone striker and as a second striker at times with the player doing well showcasing his versatility and utter professionalism. In 10 league appearances he’s managed to score 5 goals and set up 2 more for a teammate with under 3 shots per goal, which is commendable. With 12 key passes and 10 dribbles in as many appearances, Musa is one of the more complete strikers plying his trade in Russia. He’s already opened his account in this season’s Champions League against Roma which was rather a consolation goal and should be looking to build on his good goal-scoring form against the visitors come Saturday and possibly find the net, but this time more decisive.
Yaya Toure – Manchester City
Yaya Toure hasn’t hit the heights of last season yet and is understandably struggling with personal issues off the pitch. With only one goal to his name so far in the Premier League – although a crucial one at that – the explosive midfielder has been getting the stick for his lack of involvement during games at times and rightly so. With a remarkable pass success rate of 91% and 86% in the Premier League and Champions League respectively, the 31-year old is still seen as an important figure in that star-studded line-up and one the manager will always count on to deliver the goods during the big games. An away game in the Champions league with the team facing a must-win situation, this match is made for a player like the Ivorian.
CSKA Moscow 0-2 Manchester City