By John Ryan
- Pogba, Fellaini and Carrick all unavailable
- Bailly available after suspension, Phil Jones still suspended
Manchester United return to Moscow, the scene of their last Champions League win in 2008.
CSKA were founded in 1911. For much of their existence were considered Moscow’s ‘Army’ team in the old Soviet setup.
Roman Abramovich had businesses which sponsored CSKA for a couple of seasons. To date CSKA have won a third of the games they have played in Europe’s Premier Club Competition.
Known as ‘the Horses’ they have won the Russian top division on thirteen occasions. The Russian Cup on twelve and their sole European triumph was the 2005 UEFA Cup final victory.
That UEFA Cup win saw them face Liverpool in the following seasons Super Cup. In which they went down 3-1 after extra time.
Have We Met CSKA Before?
Manchester United have met CSKA Moscow on four occasions with two wins and two draws to date.
The Old Trafford meeting in November 2009 saw the home side falling 3-1 behind. But the famous Ferguson mentality saw United grind out a 3-3 draw.
CSKA finished runners up in Russia last season. They already have two ties under their belt to get to the Champions League group stages. As well as a round one win in Lisbon over Benfica.
Manchester United are up against a decent outfit in this game.
In the highly sanitised game of modern football. Manchester United are making headlines due to a chant about a players body part.
Maybe that is due to last Saturday’s Southampton game. when United did well to get a single goal victory at Saint Mary’s.
Romelu Lukaku at whom the chant was directed scored the winner but such is United’s start to the season that many fans are now expecting four goal victories each game.
Manchester City have set a high standard with flowing football and box to box player movement but there is a sense that Mourinho is building something more stable.
The steel shown at times in the game to see out the result and the work rate of players like Rashford and Mata are a solid foundation on which to build an assault on both the Premier League and Champions League.
The latter may be beyond Mourinho’s army this season but the group stages of the tournament should prepare United for knockout European football should the club progress.
Bailly Available After Suspension
Paul Pogba is still out injured but Eric Bailly returns after a three game European ban. Phil Jones is suspended and with Victor Lindelof still adjusting to life in the Premier League Chris Smalling should step in at centre back.
Marouane Fellaini injured himself against the Saints and with Martial and Rashford competing for a spot in attack it is unlikely both will start.
For CSKA, Mario Fernandes went off injured after half an hour last week against Dinamo Moscow. But Aleksandr Golovin returns to the side after suspension.
CSKA’s domestic games so far have produced fourteen goals in ten outings. While in the Champions League qualifying games they have found the net six times.
Their top scorer is twenty four year old Brazilian midfielder Vitinho. Who has a strike rate of just under one goal per two games.
With three defeats in their opening ten league games all of those came at home so there is no reason for Manchester United to fear this game.
United Are Turning Draws Into Wins
Manchester United have been clinical this season so far. Winning games that may have been draws last season or under the previous two managers now being groundout as wins.
The team have looked solid be it seeing out a single goal victory or going for the throat. With Romelu Lukaku in the goal scoring form of his career the big money move looks to be a very wise one and United have invested well.
Lukaku adds the one area United lacked in last season – goals. His movement at the top of the pitch is difficult to defend against and allows midfield runners to get into positions to score.
If Mourinho sends United out to attack this may well be a goal fest. But after a long flight on Monday and with Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday this may be a game where the Manager is happy to pick up a point.
Verdict: CSKA 1-3 Manchester United