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Match Preview: Manchester United vs. CSKA Moscow

Manchester United take on CSKA Moscow in a Champions League crunch match on Tuesday. Here's what to watch for.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

CSKA Moscow will become the lates try to become the latest team to stop Manchester United scoring when the sides meet at Old Trafford on Tuesday. It's a vitally important match, with these sides both locked on four points in their Champions League group. Whoever wins will give themselves a potentially decisive edge in the race for the knockout stage places.

The reverse fixture ended 1-1, with CSKA taking the lead through Seydou Doumbia early in the first half, only to be pegged back by an Anthony Martial goal in the second. United generally dominated the flow of the game, though, as per usual, failed to convert their possession into a sufficient number of chances. Rather ominously, United will have to make history if they're to win on Tuesday, having never beaten Russian opponents at Old Trafford before.

Team news

Paddy McNair and Luke Shaw will both miss out, while there are several further doubts in James Wilson, Morgan Schneiderlin, Antonio Valencia and Memphis Depay. They've all either missed training sessions or been isolated from the rest of the squad in the run-up to this match.

According to UEFA, CSKA Moscow's only certain absentee is veteran centre-back Vasili Berezutski.


This game is unlikely to play out much differently to the first leg. Expect United to be allowed to dominate possession but struggle to break down a very well-organised unit, with Pontus Wernbloom and Bibras Natkho tasked with sweeping up everything in front of the defence. As with Crystal Palace and countless other games in Louis van Gaal's tenure, it could be difficult for United to pass their way through to goal. Moment of Martial magic, anyone?

CSKA Moscow aren't only solid at the back, but they're a very real threat venturing forward. The main source of danger should come from out wide, where you'll find former United man Zoran Tošić and the talented young Nigerian Ahmed Musa. Their pace enables them to be both defensively diligent and a counter-attacking threat, and they'll look to take advantage of any space in behind United's full-backs.

Finally, the main man: Seydou Doumbia. The Ivorian has an astonishing career record of 25 goals in 33 European matches, and added the latest of them in the draw against United last time out. His intelligent movement and his icy cool in front of goal make up for any deficit of pace and power, and the thought of him going up against the United defence (and Daley Blind in particular) isn't an especially inviting one.

Predicted lineups

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo; Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin; Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial; Wayne Rooney.

CSKA Moscow (4-2-3-1): Igor Akinfeev; Georgy Schennikov, Sergei Ignashevitch, Alexei Berezutski, Mario Fernandes; Pontus Wernbloom, Bibras Natkho; Ahmed Musa, Roman Eremenko, Zoran Tošić; Seydou Doumbia.