Manchester City v CSKA Moscow: Match Preview
Manchester City will be keen to keep pace with group leaders Bayern Munich, when they host Russian side CSKA Moscow at the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League Group D fixture on Tuesday.
Like their archrivals Manchester United, the Citizens have not had the best of starts in the Premier League this season, under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, and currently are six points off early leaders Arsenal. However, they have won two out of three games in the Champions League so far this term, losing only to holders Bayern.
After edging the reverse fixture in Russia 2-1 a fortnight ago, City are now second in the group, three points behind Bayern and three above CSKA. Another win against the Moscow outfit tonight will see the Blues edging closer to qualification to the last 16; something which the club failed to do in the last couple of years.
"For Manchester City, [getting through the group stage] would be a great achievement. We all know what happened in the last two years, so for a club that is always trying to grow every day, progression in Europe is very important. [It was] a very close game in Russia and I expect that it will be the same tomorrow," stressed Pellegrini.
City head into this game high on confidence, after hammering Norwich City 7-0 at the Etihad during the weekend.
Meanwhile, CSKA know they have to pull off an upset in Manchester tonight, if they still hope of progressing to the knockout stages of the competition. Leonid Slutski's men, who are currently six points behind Bayern, did not get off to a good start in their domestic competition as well and are now fourth in the Russian table, six points below title rivals Zenit St. Petersburg.
However, CSKA have won their last two matches in convincing fashion, after the defeat to City, and will be looking to extend that run in England tonight.
"We know that Manchester City are firm favourites to win, but we'll do our best to prove people wrong. It is a vital game so I expect City to fight for every ball and play to their maximum. We will need to be at our best to get a positive result. We can't worry about how well Manchester City played at the weekend, they are a very strong team," Slutski pointed out.
Team News: Captain Vincent Kompany and Stevan Jovetic remain sidelined, while Javi Garcia is an injury doubt. Otherwise, Pellegrini has a full quad to choose from, though the manager has revealed that England no.1 Joe Hart will be benched again.
CSKA: Slutski has a fair share of injury issues as star playmaker Alan Dzagoev has been ruled out, while talisman Keisuke Honda remains a major doubt. Defenders Vasili Berezutski, Mario Fernandes and midfielder Aleksandrs Cauna are also sidelined for CSKA.
Key men: Manchester City: Sergio Aguero seems to enjoying the best spell of his City career, with five goals and five assists from his last four Premier League matches. The Argentine scored one and set up three against the Canaries at the weekend and has form and momentum on his side.
CSKA: Zoran Tosic had two goals and an assist to his name from CSKA's last two Champions League outings, including the strike against City. The former United winger will be the Citizens' biggest threat tonight, especially if Honda fails to pass his late fitness test.
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