Manchester United traveled to Moscow on Monday, preparing for the second round match of the Champions League group stages. The Reds will play CSKA, trying to continue their one hundred percent start after a 3-0 win against Basel.
Jose Mourinho and his players will, however, have a tricky test in front of them. The match arrives in an odd situation, after a hard-fought away win at Southampton and before the final league match prior to the October international break. It is a perfect moment for the team to continue their winning form, though.
Manchester United won four consecutive matches in all competitions since the 2-2 draw at Stoke. Basel, Everton and Burton Albion were quite easily dispatched, while Southampton took a lot more energy and endurance to claim a victory. But the match against CSKA Moscow will be a different type of a test.
Manchester United Missing Important Players
Manchester United will be missing some important players when the match kicks off on Wednesday evening. Paul Pogba has been injured ever since pulling hamstring against Basel, leaving the pitch after just 18 minutes of play. Marouane Fellaini replaced him very well that night, but he will not be in the squad against CSKA, either.
The Belgian midfielder suffered an ankle injury against Southampton and will be out of contention until after October international break. Michael Carrick will not be in the match squad while Phil Jones was left out in Manchester to rest for the weekend Premier League match.
This will be a test of character for Man United. Without many important players in some of key areas they will have to show if they are ready to chase the biggest titles. Mourinho’s team must show they can deal with injuries and unexpected on goings. CSKA are not the toughest team Man United could play, but the mental side of the match could be decisive.
Long Travel Is Never A Pleasure
Another mental side to this match could be a long travel to Moscow. While this is not something unusual, with the mixture of many missing players, it can turn out to be tricky. This is not to say Manchester United will have drastically smaller chances of winning than if the travel was shorter. However, it means the players could simply have a bad day and get nervous if things are not going well.
CSKA Moscow surprised Benfica in the opening round by winning 2-1 in Lisbon. It was not expected, but their appetites now grow. With three points against main rival for a spot in the knockout stages, CSKA will hope for a point at VEB Stadium.
Manchester United should be ready to show their strength in depth. Some other players will have to step in and send a clear message that Manchester United can do well if some important players are not on the pitch. Chris Smalling will play in defence instead of Jones and Ander Herrera is expected to start alongside Nemanja Matic in front of a back four.
This will Manchester United’s sixth match in 18 days. It is very important to finish September strong before a two-week long break. CSKA Moscow is just a part of that mission.