Preview: Manchester United out to win UEFA Champions League group with CSKA Moscow victory

Manchester United -v- CSKA Moscow

UEFA Champions League 2017/18

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 5th December 2017; KO 19:45 GMT

Live on BT Sport 2HD in the United Kingdom

Manchester United will host CSKA Moscow this evening at Old Trafford in the final UEFA Champions League group stage match. United currently top the table with 12 points and a healthy goal difference. In the last match, a 1-0 defeat to Basel, United failed to secure their place in the knockout stages of the competition, needing a point to make that happen this evening. This is not a must-win match for United, avoiding a high-scoring defeat will be enough for the Old Trafford club to make it through to the round of 16 next year. CSKA Moscow have never beaten United in any of the five previous matches played, so it could be a big ask of the Russian side, to win at the Theatre of Dreams.

Basel could win the group with a victory over Benfica, who have not won a single match or earned a single point in the competition this season. CSKA Moscow are guaranteed a place in the round of 32 in the UEFA Europa League unless they beat United and Benfica earn a victory or a draw with Basel. Jose Mourinho will be without a host of stars with David De Gea given an evening off with Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira as the two goalkeepers, the Argentinian starting the match. Paul Pogba will start ahead of his three-match ban for the red card shown against Arsenal at the weekend. Luka Shaw could be in contention for a start in this game, which could be good for him. Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are both expected to miss out due to injury despite Jones’ return to training.

Previous Matches: Manchester United unbeaten by CSKA Moscow in five matches – could it be six?

Manchester United and CSKA Moscow have played five matches in the competitive history of both clubs. United have not been beaten by the Russian side. United have beaten CSKA Moscow three times and drawn twice. The first match was played on the 21st October 2009, a 1-0 victory played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow with Antonio Valencia scoring the only goal of the game just over a year after the Red Devils won the UEFA Champions League in the stadium.

The next two matches were draws; 3-3 on the 3rd November 2009 and a 1-1 draw around six years later on the 21st October 2015. United then won 1-0 at Old Trafford on the 3rd November 2015. Earlier this season, United won 4-1 at the VEB Arena in Moscow with Romelu Lukaku scoring a brace, with Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the other two goals. The match at Old Trafford this evening will be the sixth match between the two sides.

Form: Manchester United in great form ahead of important match in the UEFA Champions League against Russian side CSKA Moscow

Manchester United have played 15 matches in the Premier League this season, winning eleven, drawing two and losing two. In total, United have scored 35 goals in the league, conceding nine, which leaves them with a goal difference of 26. At this stage last season, United had won five, drawn six and lost three matches in the league, only scoring 19 goals and conceding 16, leaving them with a goal difference of three. This season has seen a dramatic improvement in the league for United. In the Carabao Cup, United are in the fifth round, scoring six and conceding once so far. In the UEFA Champions League, United have been as consistent with four wins and one defeat, scoring ten goals and conceding two.

CSKA Moscow have played 19 matches in the Russian Premier League this season, winning ten matches, drawing five and losing four times. The Russian side have scored 28 goals, conceding 15 goals – a goal difference of 13. At this stage last season, CSKA Moscow has played only 17 matches, winning nine, drawing five and losing three times. In the Russian Cup this season, CSKA were knocked out after a 1-0 victory, after extra time, at the hands of Avangard Kursk. In the UEFA Champions League, CSKA have played five matches, winning three and losing twice. The club are guaranteed a place in the UEFA Europa League this season, but Basel will have to draw or lose to Benfica – who have not won a game this season, and CSKA Moscow will need to win at Old Trafford.

Team News: Sergio Romero and Paul Pogba will start; David De Gea, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the UEFA Champions League final group stage match

Jose Mourinho spoke to the media during his press conference on Monday afternoon and confirmed that Sergio Romero and Paul Pogba would both start with Joel Pereira on the bench with David De Gea being rested for the fixture, ahead of the Manchester derby. The Portuguese manager also confirmed that Nemanja Matic was injured and out of the match, saying:

“We have problems, we have injuries. Matic is injured and when I say he is injured, he is injured. I am not going to make him play so Matic is out. A couple of others guys are playing every match and they also need a rest. More importantly, the other guys deserve an opportunity to play.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be involved in the match either with the Swedish striker needing time out to work on rehabilitation on his knee injury – this was also why he missed the Arsenal match at the weekend. Mourinho said:

“He is okay but he needs, now and again, specific work on the muscle that supports that knee that went through such a difficult surgery. When he works really hard on that, he gets fatigue and you cannot play with fatigue. It is something that we knew would happen now and again, that he needs to stop playing to become ready for harder work for prevention.”

Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, despite the former back in training, will most likely miss this game after the manager confirmed none of the injured players will be back. Luke Shaw was asked about by the media, with Mourinho saying:

“He’s working to have an opportunity and sooner or later, the opportunity will arrive. Because he deserves that opportunity. Selected for tomorrow, yes, for sure. To start or to be on the bench, I cannot answer.”

Predicted Starting XI: Manchester United to field strong side against CSKA Moscow to win UEFA Champions League group

Match Prediction: Manchester United too strong for CSKA Moscow…

Manchester United 4-0 CSKA Moscow

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