Villa v CSKA preview

18 February 2009 11:05
Premier League high-fliers Aston Villa host CSKA Moscow in the last 32 of the Uefa Cup on Wednesday night.

Domestically, Villa are threatening to break up the monopoly of England's 'Big Four' of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.

And manager Martin O'Neill will also be eager to signal the renaissance of his side - who defeated Dutch giants Ajax in the group stages - on the European stage when CSKA arrive for this first-leg meeting at Villa Park.

Villa famously won the European Cup in 1982 and, while the Holte End faithful are eyeing a place in next season's UEFA Champions League, they would quite happily welcome another piece of continental silverware this term.

CSKA visit England as underdogs and with a manager, Brazilian legend Zico, who only joined the Russian outfit in January after Valeri Gazzaev, the most decorated coach in the club's history, left in December.

Barry boostVilla will be without England striker Emile Heskey as the former Wigan player is sidelined with the Achilles injury he aggravated while on international duty last week.

O'Neill, though, will be boosted by the return of Gareth Barry - who was suspended for Sunday's FA Cup defeat at Everton, which ended a 16-game unbeaten sequence.

Midfielder Steve Sidwell is banned, but Curtis Davies should play in the centre of defence after overcoming a shoulder complaint.

CSKA are ranked as outsiders to lift the Uefa Cup in Istanbul's Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in May, but Zico's men travel to Britain as the only side to have made it through the group stages with a 100 per cent record.

The 2005 champions will also be well rested, having not playing a competitive game since a last outing in the Uefa Cup on 4th December.

Daniel Carvalho is back at the club following a loan spell in Brazil and may play a part, but Anton Grigoriev and Deividas Semberas (both suspended), and Tomas Necid (cup tied) will miss out.

Source: SKY_Sports