Injury-hit Tottenham face tough Russian test

MOSCOW • Tottenham Hotspur started their Champions League campaign at Wembley, but their second game in European football's biggest club competition will be at an even more exotic ground.

Today's match with CSKA Moscow will be the third-ever competitive game at the new Arena CSKA, which only opened two weeks ago.

The English club are on a decent run of wins in domestic football, but a 2-1 home defeat in their opening Champions League match by Monaco earlier this month puts them in huge need of a victory to keep their last-16 hopes alive.

Mauricio Pochettino's men have arrived in Moscow knowing that one of the hardest away matches in world football awaits.

Visiting teams to the Russian capital invariably tend to struggle with the strange pitch conditions, time difference and the infamous atmosphere of hostility - several of Manchester City's players were targeted for racist abuse a few years ago, with Uefa punishing CSKA for their fans' behaviour.

Tottenham are second in the Premier League table having opened the season with four wins and two draws from their first six games.

But Spurs did struggle against Monaco, France's third-best team, showing that they might find it difficult to tackle their Champions League opponents this season.

Moreover, Tottenham are depleted as they are already without striker Harry Kane while also having major doubts over Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Moussa Sissoko.

CSKA are second in their domestic league after eight matches of the season and kicked off their Champions League campaign with a 2-2 draw at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Russian outfit have lost just one of their last seven European matches on home turf and will definitely fancy their chances of maintaining that record today.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CSKA MOSCOW V TOTTENHAM

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'Injury-hit Tottenham face tough Russian test'. Print Edition | Subscribe