Madrid and CSKA Moscow prepare for Champions showdown
Real Madrid go into Wednesday night's Champions League quarter-final second leg with CSKA Moscow full of confidence that they can progress to the last eight after the 1-1 draw achieved in Moscow.
Madrid won all six of their Champions League group games, becoming only the fifth side to do so, and were on course for a seventh victory in the first leg before a Pontus Wernbloom equaliser in the last minute gave CSKA an unexpected result.
Cristiano Ronaldo got Madrid's goal in the Luzhniki stadium and the Portuguese superstar scored twice on Saturday night to make it 11 straight league wins as 'Los Merengues' overcame Real Betis 3-2 in a match that marked Jose Mourinho's 100th match in charge of the club.
Mourinho also has experience of beating CSKA in the Champions League after his Inter Milan team beat them 1-0 home and away in the 2009/10 quarter-final on their way to the trophy.
On Wednesday he will be able to call on French forward Karim Benzema, out since the first leg with a muscular injury, who is in contention along with Argentinian Gonzalo Higuain to lead the attack with Ronaldo.
Another man playing his part in Madrid's amazing recent run is Brazilian midfielder Kaka, who has enjoyed a good spell in the side in the absence of Angel Di Maria, who is still struggling with injury.
Kaka is looking forward to the tie and has called on the home crowd to help the team over the line.
"I'm always motivated to play this competition because they are always difficult games but we need our fans to get behind us because CSKA are a quick team and have players that can cause us problems," he said.
CSKA could only draw 1-1 with local rival Dynamo Moscow on Saturday, a result that means both clubs lose ground to Russian league leaders Zenit St. Petersburg, CSKA sit second six points behind Zenit and two ahead of Dynamo.
CSKA went a goal ahead on three minutes thanks to a strike from Seydou Doumbia but they lost their way a little in a second half and Igor Semshov managed an equaliser for Dynamo.
The first leg result meant CSKA have not lost in six matches against Spanish opposition and will look to provide a stern test in the Spanish capital.
At this stage two years ago CSKA put out another Spanish team, Sevilla, with a 2-1 away win thanks to goals from Tomas Necid and Keisuke Honda after the first leg in Russia had finished 1-1.
Both players along with Doumbia will be the dangermen that Madrid will need to keep quiet to avoid any surprises.
Alan Dzagoev, missing through suspension on Saturday, will be available in the Santiago Bernabeu, but inspirational goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev will miss the game through injury.
However, coach Leonid Slutsky is optimistic ahead of the tie.
"Madrid score lots of goals, even without their key players, and they make it difficult for the opposition to score against them, they are very fast and have some of the best players in the world.
"We need to be strong in defence and not give them any space but I believe in miracles and playing against them in the Santiago Bernabeu will be amazing," he said.
CSKA's Chilean midfielder Mark Gonzalez scored for CSKA in the first leg against Sevilla last season and he knows what it is like to beat Real Madrid having scored the winner for Real Betis in a 2-1 victory over 'Los Blancos' in 2008.
During his time in Spanish football the former Liverpool player also scored for Real Sociedad in a 1-1 draw in the Santiago Bernabeu and his experience will be crucial if CSKA are to achieve a miracle result on Wednesday and progress.
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