Match: CSKA Moscow vs Manchester United
Competition: UEFA Champions League Group Stages
Stadium: VEB Arena
Date & KO Time: Weds 27 Sept 17 – 1945 BST
Where can you watch it? – BT Sport 3
This is the second group match of Group A with the current top two teams in action against each other. Manchester United sit on top with a superior goal difference in the convincing 3-0 home win against Basel, whereas CSKA Moscow came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 away against Benfica. Man Utd are favourites despite the long trip and the slight change to time difference, as Man Utd have never lost in Russia and Mourinho has never lost against CSKA Moscow in 6 matches. CSKA Moscow has always finished bottom of the group stages, but has won all five Champions League matches so far this season!
CSKA Moscow almost have a full team to choose from with one injury of note, and that’s Aleksandr Makarov; a left winger who’s just been promoted to the first team this summer. Everyone else is fit to choose from. CSKA Moscow have an extremely experienced defence, with the youngest being 26 year old, and a young attack with the oldest being 23 years old.
Man Utd have a few absentees, some being rested and some are forced upon the club. Pogba (Hamstring), Fellaini (leg), Rojo (Knee) and Jones (Knock) will be missing out through injury. Shaw, Valencia & Carrick have not been taken through choice and therefore could play this weekend. The youngsters that have travelled with the squad are McTominay, Tuanzebe and Pereira.
Predicted Line Ups
CSKA Moscow have not changed their formation since the first game this season; they have used 3-5-2 in each of their last 16 fixtures.
They use their star wing backs in the wide positions giving them width and additional cover in defence if they need it, with three very experienced Centre Backs in front of an equally experience Goalkeeper, Akinfeev, the club captain. The two brothers, the Berezutski’s, usually line up on the centre and left hand side of the defence with either Vasin or Ignashevich making up the experienced back three.
The wing backs will likely be Schnnikov on the left and Mario Fernandes who could be a threat on their right wing. With an experienced midfield three that’ll look to dictate the tempo of the game, Wernbloom playing CDM and Natcho and key midfielder Dzagoev playing further forward.
Finally the front two, one player who will certainly start is Brazilian forward Vitinho with either Olanare & Zhamaletdinov partnering him. Zhamaletdinov is the usual starter, but Olanare started the previous Champions League game. With Zhamaletdinov being a goal scoring threat of late, I feel the young Belerusian manager Goncharenko will opt with him.
I think Mourinho will go for a 4-3-3 this evening with two wide attacking midfielders.
I’d be very surprised if Jose opts to go with anyone else but De Gea in goal, but I think he will shake up the back four to keep people fresh for the weekend. I’ve gone with Blind on the left to offer his crossing ability going forward with Lindelof and Bailly playing for the first time together in Central Defence, with Tuanzebe making up the back four with his fearless youthfulness.
CDM has to be Matic, and accompanying him in midfield I have put Herrera with the energy and Mata playing further up the pitch linking up with the front three.
On the left attacking flank I have put Martial, with the age of Moscow’s defence I think Pace will be their kryptonite and Martial will absolutely destroy them with his flair and dribbling ability. On the right flank I have put Young to give width and crossing ability from the right, as Blind will have that duty on the left.
Up top? Who else but Lukaku? Their defence will be physically strong, so we will need someone in there to bully their defence with physical presence and robustness. Lukaku is on a goal scoring run of late and has a desire to win which will go down perfectly with Mourinho.
I can’t see past a Man Utd win this evening. Man Utd are playing well despite having a few players out injured. Our defence have been solid lately, but I can see them making a mistake with the atmosphere in the stadium.
CSKA Moscow have only score more than 2 goals in a match once this season, and that was their first match. Man Utd have scored less than 3 goals only three times this season, but have scored on every occasion.
Score Prediction – CSKA Moscow 1-4 Man Utd (HT score prediction CSKA Moscow 0-2 Man Utd)
It’ll be a good game and I can’t wait for kick-off and for Man Utd to continue their winning start in Europe’s most elite football competition! See you all at the Watchalong!