Manchester United won the 2008 Champions League final in MoscowManchester United travel far east to Russia for their upcoming Champions League group stage match. They will be up against CSKA Moskva at the Arena Khimki in Moscow.The Red Devils have happy memories of the city, where they famously defeated Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final at the Luzhniki Stadium.But, a lot of time has gone since the triumph. And, everyone is aware of the fact that there is a huge difference between the team that went to Moscow in 2008, and the one which reached Moscow on Tuesday.Moreover, playing against the home team in such tough conditions is an altogether different proposition.Following are 5 reasons why the boys from Old Trafford should be wary of Moscow.
#1 Weather in Moscow
Winter is as severe as it gets in Russia as we all know. And when you travel to Russia, especially during the latter half of the year, things can get real tricky.
The Red Devils travel from Manchester to Moscow, and the difference in temperature and conditions will be drastic.
The match kicks off at 21:45 local time, and according to the weather forecast, the temperature at that time will most likely be below zero degrees in Moscow. Whereas, in Manchester the temperature will barely fall below 15-degree celsius tonight.
Such an incredible difference in the temperature can adversely affect players’ performances as seen countless times before. The United goalkeeper, David De Gea, who is arguably the most integral part of the team, will certainly have a hard time keeping himself warm. Outfield players will have to make certain changes in their approach as well, to beat the opponents and the cruel conditions in Moscow.
#2 Travelling Exertion
The distance between Manchester and Moscow is 2549 km. The travelling time is around five and a half hours. In addition to that, Moscow’s timeline is 2 hours ahead from that of Manchester. If we combine all these, there is only one output- More aspects to ponder over for United.
Louis Van Gaal’s players were forced to train in Manchester before flying to Moscow. The reason strangely being ‘traffic jams’ in Moscow.
LVG said, “We trained in Manchester today because of the logistics and the way we have to prepare for matches. We were told that there would be traffic jams in Moscow so we thought it would be better to train at home on our training ground.”
The reason was quite surprising, as the Dutch coach is considered to be a perfectionist. So, one would expect him to take his team to Russia beforehand. So that players can get used to the conditions and the difference in time zone. But, now they have limited time to get acclimatized to the conditions.
#3 Poor history of English teams in Russian
A host of English clubs have travelled to Russia over the years to play in European competitions. But as a whole, they have failed to come good.
Since 2006, English clubs have played 14 matches against the Russian clubs, in Russia, across all European competitions. And the money-laden clubs from England have lost 8 of those matches.
The record speaks for itself, as to how the conditions can affect gameplans.
As for Manchester United, the last time they played CSKA Moskva in Moscow, they won the match 1-0 with the help of Valencia’s goal. Valencia is back in the squad for the trip to Russia, after missing the match against Everton.
The last English team to visit Moscow was Manchester City, in 2014 and the final scoreline was 2-2.
So, United must be completely aware of the fact that this is going to be one tough night.
#4 CSKA Moscow\'s form
The Moscow-based club currently occupy first position in the Russian Premier League, with 32 points in 12 matches. They have not lost a single match so far in the league, with 10 wins under their belt already.
CSKA have just lost one of their last 10 competitive matches. The defeat came against VFL Wolfsburg on Matchday 1 of this edition of the UEFA Champions League, but they got back to winning ways in the competition with a 3-2 win over PSV Eindhoven at the Arena Khimki.
Louis Van Gaal is an experienced manager, and the scintillating form of his opponents must have definitely crossed his mind. He knows how confidence can get a team through against difficult opponents. And, CSKA are really brimming with confidence right now.
#5 Zoran Tosic
Zoran Tosic had a short spell with United in 2009, making five substitute appearances. In 2010, the Serbian was sold to CSKA for a fee believed to be around £8 million.
The winger has since cemented his position in the CSKA line up. He has scored 44 goals for the club so far, in 185 appearances across all competitions.
This season, he has scored 4 goals and provided 7 assists so far in 18 appearances. This also includes the Champions League qualification matches.
In such kind of form, the winger must be raring to go against his former club, and make them repent for letting him go five years ago.