UCL Group Stage Preview: CSKA Moscow vs Manchester United

Manchester United will play their first away fixture of the current UEFA Champions League campaign. The Red Devils kicked off the season with an impressive 3-0 win against FC Basel at Old Trafford. But the upcoming match could easily be one of the toughest they will face all season long, as they will travel to Moscow to take on CSKA this Wednesday. Kick off is scheduled at 19:45 BST, and Jonas Eriksson will be the referee.

The Opponent: CSKA Moscow

CSKA Moscow have not started the season on their best form – at least at the domestic level. The Moscow-based side have gained 20 points in 11 matches thus far and sit fourth in the Premier League standings. But they conceded quite an upset in the Russian Cup after losing to Avangard Kursk.

Despite their slow start in the Russian Premier League, Victor Goncharenko’s side have looked quite convincing in Europe. They cruised their way against AEK Athens and BSC Young Boys in the Champions League qualifying rounds. And they also kicked off their group stage run with an impressive 2-1 win away at Benfica a couple of weeks ago.

CSKA will have a few absentees ahead of this game, though. Right-back Mario Fernandes is not likely to play after leaving Saturday’s Premier League draw against Dinamo Moscow with a concussion. And attacking midfielder Aleksandr Makarov will miss the game with an ankle problem.

The Venue

The match will happen at VEB Arena. The Red Devils have been quite successful playing on Russia against CSKA, as they feature one win and one draw. The last time these two sides met was in the 2015-16 Champions League group stage, when United escaped with a 1-1 draw on Russia.

Manchester United register a positive record overall against CSKA since they are unbeaten (two wins and two draws) in four matches.  And we could say their success extends to all Russian clubs. The Red Devils have lost just once in the past 11 fixtures against Russian sides, thanks to three wins and seven draws. The lone defeat came in the 2008 UEFA Super Cup, when Zenit defeated Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United 2-1 in Monaco.

Team News

Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are both available for selection after serving their respective European bans against FC Basel. But considering Victor Lindelöf and Chris Smalling did a good job against the Swiss side, it would not be far-fetched to think the aforementioned duo could get the start once again.

The negative news is that Paul Pogba is likely to miss out on the Russian trip since he is not fully recovered from his hamstring injury. Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain out as well. Same goes for Marouane Fellaini, who has previously been ruled out as well.

Predicted Starting XI

Manchester United could see a few changes to the usual starting lineup, per recent reports. United would line-up something like this:

David De Gea; Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Daley Blind; Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera; Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial; Romelu Lukaku

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