A critical mid-week for English teams in the Champions League comes knocking on the door and Manchester United are one of those sides who cannot afford any negative results in Europe. Sitting second in Group B, they host CSKA Moscow with whom they drew 1-1 at the Khimki Arena a fortnight ago. Amazingly, United have failed to find the back of the net since and Louis van Gaal will have to look beyond just drab ball-possession tactics if they are to create goalscoring opportunities and overcome their Russian opponents.
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Channel: Ten Sports
Live Stream: Ten Sports Live
Kick-Off: Tuesday, 3 November – 19:45 (Wednesday, 4 November 2015 – 01:15 AM IST)
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United will wait on Morgan Schneiderlin’s availablity for Tuesday night’s fixture as he missed training due to personal reasons. Phil Jones – who missed out Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate with Crystal Palace – is fully fit and is expected to play a part.
Meanwhile, injured right-back Antonio Valencia may find this fixture coming too soon for him while Dutch winger Memphis Depay has been omitted from the 18-man squad due to injury and poor form. Luke Shaw remains a long-term absentee from the squad.
CSKA Moscow are set to miss out the services of Vasili Berezutski through injury, while his brother Aleksei Berezutski and Roman Eremenko remain doubtful for the clash at Old Trafford. Apart from that, manager Leonid Slutsky has no major absentees from his squad.
Manchester United have failed to find the back of the net since Anthony Martial’s equaliser against their upcoming Champions League opponents two weeks ago. Much of that is down to Wayne Rooney’s disappointing form in front of goal. Having made no touches inside the Crystal Palace box on Saturday, more questions continue to be asked about the 30-year-old’s ability to recover the goalscoring touch that made him one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers over the past decade.
Louis van Gaal needs to tinker with his starting line-up if he has to see possession converted into goals. Deploying Anthony Martial into the number 9 role with Rooney behind him seems to be a more plausible solution to United’s goal-scoring issues, with Ashley Young occupying the left-midfield position.
Last 5 games: D-L*-D-D-W (Last match: Crystal Palace 0-0 Manchester United)
*lost via a penalty shootout
CSKA Moscow are flying in the Russian Premier League, acquiring a 9-point lead at the top of the table after just 14 rounds. Goals from Ahmed Musa and Roma loanee Seydou Doumbia have been vital in their domestic success and manager Slutsky will be hopeful the pair link up well to expose the United defence and improve their chances of winning the game.
Defensively, however, CSKA Moscow face a daunting challenge of even coming out of Old Trafford with a clean sheet, having failed to do so in their last 34 Champions League games. Captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev will have to ensure that his defenders remain composed and stable against the likes of Anthony Martial and Juan Mata.
Last 5 games: W-W-D-D-W (Last match: CSKA Mocow 2-0 FC Ufa)
- United are yet to beat a Russian club at home in the Champions League in three attempts (D3)
- United have won just one of their last six games in all competitions (L2, D3)
- United have failed to score since Anthony Martial’s equaliser at the Khimki Arena against the same opposition a fortnight ago.
- Leonid Slutsky’s side are unbeaten in their last 10 games in all competitions (W7, D3)
- Igor Akinfeev has failed to keep a clean sheet in his last 34 UEFA Champions League appearances. The last time he managed to do so was in a goalless draw against Arsenal in November 2006.
- CSKA Moscow’s last visit to Manchester resulted in a 2-1 victory against United’s bitter rivals Manchester City last season with Seydou Doumbia netting twice on that occasion.
Seydou Doumbia vs Chris Smalling
The pacey striker is set to cause United some problems on the counter-attack, which their possession-based play is so vulnerable to. Chris Smalling, who has been outstanding at the back for United throughout the season, has the job of handling the threat the Ivorian brings to the pitch.
With Phil Jones returning from injury, the responsibility more or less completely lies on his shoulders to ensure that Doumbia is not allowed to find himself clear on goal.
Manchester United have been strong at home under Louis van Gaal, and that is unlikely to change on Tuesday night. Should Martial start up front with Rooney behind in the number 10 role, United’s quality in attack should prove too much of a challenge for centre-backs Ignashevich and Berezutski and the English side should run out comfortable winners.
Predicted score: Manchester United 3-1 CSKA Moscow
Manchester United – 8/15
Draw – 10/3
CSKA Moscow – 6/1