Football: In-form Man United return to scene of 2008 Champions League triumph to face CSKA

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney (front) and Chris Smalling are put through their paces, as manager Louis van Gaal and training physiologist Jos van Dijk look on during training yesterday. Moscow is a happy hunting ground, as United won their t
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney (front) and Chris Smalling are put through their paces, as manager Louis van Gaal and training physiologist Jos van Dijk look on during training yesterday. Moscow is a happy hunting ground, as United won their third European crown there in 2008. They beat CSKA 1-0 a year later on their last visit.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

United in good form for CSKA game with fond memories of previous visits to Moscow

MOSCOW • Manchester United return to the scene of their 2008 Champions League triumph, looking for a second away win over CSKA Moscow in exactly six years today.

United, who won their third crown when they beat Chelsea on penalties at the Luzhniki Stadium in May 2008, returned to the Russian capital on Oct 21, 2009 and beat CSKA 1-0.

A new-look United will be looking to repeat that victory at a different venue, the Arena Khimki, as the Luzhniki is under reconstruction for the 2018 World Cup Finals.

United will travel to Moscow in good heart after a 3-0 win at Everton kept them third in the Premier League last weekend.

"I feel, for me, it's by far my greatest achievement so far and the best feeling I have ever had was in Moscow," United midfielder Michael Carrick told Inside United.

"It's a special place for me and everybody else who has got such great memories from there. But it's a tough place to go to play against CSKA. It won't be easy and it's quite a long journey with tough conditions but we'll look forward to it."

The 34-year-old and skipper Wayne Rooney are the only two survivors from that 2008 squad.

Rooney was on the scoresheet at Goodison Park, along with Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera.

"Maybe it is the start of many, many victories. I am not stupid, I won't change too much on Wednesday," said United manager Louis van Gaal, who left out fellow Dutchmen Danny Blind and Memphis Depay at the weekend following the Netherlands' failure to qualify for Euro 2016.

While United may have one eye on Sunday's local derby against Manchester City, they would do well not to underestimate a CSKA side who have been in excellent form domestically.

CSKA are unbeaten in their last 19 matches in the Russian Premier League, equalling a club record set in 2001, and beat Ural 3-2 on Saturday to stay five points clear of second-placed Lokomotiv Moscow.

CSKA manager Leonid Slutskiy succeeded Juande Ramos shortly after the club's 2009 clash with United and is expecting a very different game today.

"It's difficult for me to compare different generations. When we played in 2009, Manchester United had effectively decided their place in the tournament," said the 44-year-old, who in August also started to coach the Russian national team. "Tomorrow's match is quite different, all teams are fully motivated for the tournament.

"When you play against players with these names, of this calibre, you have to be prepared for them to show their full potential."

All teams in Group B, which includes PSV Eindhoven and Wolfsburg, are on three points after two games.

CSKA will be without Bibras Natcho, who is suffering from a head injury but fellow midfielder Roman Eremenko is expected to be fit following a groin strain.

Eremenko has insisted that United's absence in the Champions League last season does not mean they are no longer a force in Europe.

"I don't agree that Manchester United are not so good any more," he said yesterday. "They're a strong team, they have lots of young players. I think they're a very strong opponent."

REUTERS

CSKA MOSCOW V MAN UNITED
Singtel TV Ch112, tomorrow, 2.30am

19: CSKA Moscow are unbeaten in their last 19 Russian Premier League matches.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'GOOD VIBES FOR LONG TRIP'. Print Edition | Subscribe