Wednesday 23rd October 2013 | Khimki Arena | Kick-off 17:00 |Coverage on Sky Sports 2
Referee: Ovidiu Haţegan (ROU)
Assistant referee: Cristian Nica (ROU) , Octavian Sovre (ROU)
Additional assistant referee: Cristian Balaj (ROU) , István Kovács (ROU)
Fourth official: Sebastian Gheorghe (ROU)
CSKA: Mário Fernandes, Alan Dzagoev, Rasmus Elm and Aleksandrs Cauņa are all out of action, but Doumbia is available. CSKA’s weekend result was a 2-0 defeat away at Zenit. Below is their team from that fixture.
Chepchugov; Schennikov, V Berezutski, Ignashevich, Nababkin; Milanov, Wernbloom, Tošić (Vitinho 53), Zuber (Doumbia 54), Honda; Musa.
CITY: Martin Demichelis and Jack Rodwell aren’t quite fit enough to return, Vincent Kompany is also still out but could return on Sunday against Chelsea.
City lost five out of six away games in their previous two UEFA Champions League campaigns but made a winning start on their travels this time, 3-0 at Plzeň.
CSKA’s overall home record against English sides is W2 L2. City have never faced any Russian team before, home or away.
Álvaro Negredo and Jesús Navas were in the Sevilla FC side beaten by CSKA in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League round of 16. Negredo struck the opening goal in a 1-1 first-leg draw at Luzhniki Stadium but CSKA prevailed 2-1 in Spain.
Another City striker, Edin Džeko, also hit the opener for his team, VfL Wolfsburg, in a 2-1 defeat at CSKA in the group stage that same season.
Stats courtesy of UEFA
CSKA are a very strong side, they are heavyweights in Russia. I saw their games against Zenit last Saturday, Plzeň and Bayern. I think we play better in away games in the Champions League rather than in the English Premier League.
It’s not the last match in the group but it’s a very pivotal, important game for us. The team who win this game will have more of a chance to get through to the next round, but there are still three matches ahead. For us the most important thing is to earn three points.
It is unbelievable that we can play on this pitch. We must pray tomorrow because if it rains it will be impossible to play. I think the most important competition in the world deserves a better pitch. I am surprised because they didn’t allow the other game against Viktoria Plzen to be played here and I think that the person from Uefa who reviewed it shouldn’t have given the authorisation to play here.
This is all about six points because we play CSKA twice back-to-back and we must win there,” he said. If we do that and then beat them at home, we will take a big step towards qualification. We have two hard away games this week with Chelsea coming up on Sunday, but we will try to keep our concentration. We have to go for the win. We can’t think about the draw – we need to go there and leave with three points.
I admit I am worried about the pitch because our team tries to play with the ball on the ground and if you don’t have a good surface it could be very hard for us. We will see when we train there on the day before the game and if the pitch is poor, we may have to fight to win the game, but that is no different to any other game – it is always a fight to win.
We knew that the two games against CSKA would be like finals because, with respect to Plzen, they are the team who will most likely finish fourth and second spot will probably be between us and CSKA. I don’t think they will change the way play, especially as they are at home, and they have some very good players who are quick up front so it should be an interesting contest. There are many good teams in Russia who try to play football, like we do. If we come back from Moscow with a win, we will have done 50% of the job and we would then have a home game against them to come.
I’ve played against CSKA before when I was with Marseille and we drew that game. I also played in Russia against Zenit St Petersburg – it’s always a difficult place to play because it’s usually very cold at this time of year and the quality of the pitches was a problem when I was last there. Those are the two main factors that are different but they are not a worry to us. We are all international players and we know how important it is to come home with a victory so we’ll be doing our best to make sure that happens.
Leonid Slutski (CSKA Manager)
We will have 11 players out on the pitch and our aim will be to get a positive result. It is a very important game for us and it will make the situation in the group a lot clearer. Neither team will qualify or be eliminated after the game, but it will be crucial in terms of our hopes of making the knockout stage. The third and fourth matches in the group are always key. There is an obvious favourite in our group, so the fixtures between us and Manchester City will decide who qualifies in second place.
They have a really strong squad; for example, I don’t know who will line up on the left and right of defence. It could be Micah Richards or Pablo Zabaleta, and it could be Gaël Clichy or Aleksandar Kolarov. They have four players who are always in the side – Joe Hart, Fernandinho, Yaya Touré and Sergio Agüero. When you can leave players such as James Milner on the bench, who is a national team player, it just goes to show the strength in depth they possess.
We must make sure that we play at a high tempo and look to play as a team and win our individual battles on the pitch. If we manage to do this, then we have a chance of beating Manchester City and overcoming the individual excellence of the players they have.
Compiled by Rob Toole & Rob Pollard