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CSKA to play Champions League tie in St Petersburg
Russian champions CSKA Moscow's Champions League Group D encounter with Czech title-holders Viktoria Pilsen will be played at the Petrovsky Stadium home of their arch rivals Zenit St Petersburg, the club announced Friday.
The switch has been forced as the pitch at the Moscow Khimki Arena, which is supposed to be used by CSKA as their home ground for Champions League matches, has been turned into a quagmire by the enormous amount of rain which has fallen on Moscow in September.
Next Wednesday's fixture will take place at Zenit's home venue the day after Zenit themselves play Austria Vienna there in Group G.
"We thank Zenit's management for their help in a very difficult moment for our club," said a statement on the CSKA official website.
The heavy rain which fell on the Khimki Arena during a European under-21 Championship qualifier between Russia and Slovenia on September 6 turned the pitch into an unplayable quagmire.
The club tried to protect the surface, switching their domestic league match with Rostov to another Moscow venue, the Torpedo stadium.
But other Moscow clubs, Lokomotiv and Dynamo, played their derby clash at Khimki on September 21 also under the rain, further damaging the pitch in the process.
Earlier this week, UEFA ruled the Khimki Arena pitch unfit for playing Champions League matches.
The Khimki Arena has served has hosted Dynamo and CSKA games since 2008 when the Dynamo Stadium, which was originally constructed in 1928, was closed for renovation.
CSKA might have risked playing their Champions League home matches abroad as the stadium in Krasnodar, which they had chosen as their reserve stadium for Champions League matches, was needed by the local side Kuban for a Europa League match.
CSKA general manager Roman Babayan said a decision about his club's other Champions League Group D home matches against Bayern Munich and Manchester City would be taken at a later date.
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