CSKA Moscow vs Manchester United: Preview

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ScholesIt’s been quite a week! From beach balls to touchline brawls and slack marking to summit embarking. Now Moscow and the artificial pitch awaits for Ferguson and his charges where three more points would go even further to sealing United’s progression into the next phase of the Champions League.

It’s worth noting that trips to the Luzhniki Stadium haven’t been too unkind in recent years either, although CSKA certainly won’t be a proverbial walk in the park synthetic grass.

Following his absence from Saturday’s victory over Bolton, Wayne Rooney continues to miss out with the calf injury he picked up whilst playing for England. That does, however, give another chance for Michael Owen to prove his worth and continue to develop a partnership with Dimitar Berbatov.

Ryan Giggs did get through 90 minutes against the Trotters on the weekend, although he has not travelled with the squad to Moscow. You would assume that he probably wouldn’t have been given the nod even if he was fully fit and with Liverpool in mind, it makes sense to allow the Welshman the evening off to rest up.

That could quite realistically present Nani with a terrific opportunity. Having scored an impressive goal for his country last week, the former Sporting Lisbon man should be chomping at the bit to show what he’s about and the ideal scenario may be to afford him the chance to go and express himself in Russia. It may be last chance saloon for the 22-year-old this season and it’s these sort of chances that he has to firmly clutch with both hands.

Patrice Evra is another to have stayed in Manchester so one would expect John O’Shea to switch to left-back with Wes Brown operating on the right hand side of the defence. Rio Ferdinand survived a further barrage of criticism following a steady showing on Saturday so he should continue alongside Jonny Evans with Nemanja Vidic possibly being rested for the trip to Anfield. Edwin van der Sar should continue in goal.

United will also be without Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung through injury so that should see a definite start for Paul Scholes with one of Anderson or Michael Carrick alongside him. With Nani undoubtedly occupying one flank, Antonio Valencia, fresh from his first competitive goal for the club, should start on the other.

In the build-up to the encounter, Ferguson admitted that he wasn’t concerned about playing on an artificial pitch, hinting that he would be happy with a draw in Moscow.

“CSKA are a young side who know what they are doing and have one win behind them already,” the Scot said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

“Also, their home advantage means more than usual because they play on an artificial plastic surface. I don’t have a problem with that, though, because we can cope and I am looking to our back-to-back games against CSKA to take us to 10 points and a place in the knockout stages.”

CSKA certainly shouldn’t be underestimated although despite Sir Alex’s best efforts to play down the need for a resounding result, and even with something of a depleted squad, three points should most definitely be in reach for the Reds.

The Moscow outfit are a little off the pace in the Russian Premier League, seven points behind leaders Rubin Kazan in fourth spot having played 25 games of the season (which kicked off in March). They did, however, beat Besiktas in the last round of Champions League fixtures and keep your eye out for goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, a player who has been linked with a switch to Old Trafford in recent times.

Prediction: 1-0 United

Squad in full: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Foster; Neville, Rafael, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Brown, J Evans, C Evans, Fabio; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Nani; Owen, Berbatov, Macheda, Welbeck.

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  1. @Red Ranter: I know what you me my friend. Football Manager is by far the better game overall and by the way, I just ordered my copy of FM 2010, which will be out officially on Oct 30th. Big changes to the GUI and the game has not become easier but has become easier in terms of how to perform time consuming duties like selecting tactics etc. The new interface looks to be a real joy. Check out this 15 minute video on the new improvements. I t made me just salivate with anticipation. It is the purists version of football gaming for sure and takes mental abilities as opposed to thumb bashing skills.

    Gaming has been a part of my life since childhood simply because I was a born an only child and in many of the places we moved to, I quite often had to fend for myself and use my own imagination to conjure up ways to have fun. Sports gaming was great because it allowed you to play games in solitaire mode. I had many friends over the years but none of them shared this gaming passion for me until my gaming passion also included war games like Squad Leader for example. I’ve grown up over the years but I still find a passion for this stuff and of course the invention of the PC eventually transferred that passion to the computer. I of course am not as busy as you so I can devote a lot of time to my hobby but I do remember those days in the 80’s and 90’s when I too was to busy to play games. I wouldn’t exactly call it growing up. I’d call it more conforming to the norm and having no time or energy to devote to such things. I’m impressed with your busy schedule that you still find time for FM. Anyway, don’t stifle the little kid in you completely RR. 😀

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    I still enjoy FIFA a great deal though because it has come a long way in the past 5 years. It used to annoy me to no end and in fact I much preferred PES five years ago on the old XBOX because of it’s editing tools (I had created the entire Bundesliga from 1979 to 1982 on those old games and truthfully, they would blow your mind on the accuracy and the look of every player and their skills. That was a fun game but the editing took hundreds of man hours. It was really an obsessive hobby to create an era of football that I loved. FIFA has never allowed for that control and their editing restrictions still piss me off but the game is good knuckle dragging fun and the graphics are a delight so therefore I still am addicted to it…..Until FM2010 shows up.

    Also, FM2010 will allow you to create your own leagues. For example, If you want to create a European Super League or do the Grognard thing and create a 16 team EPL, now you can. All sorts of nice tweaks and touches and the live games have improved their look also although they are a number of years away from reaching FIFA in that arena.

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