Manchester United v CSKA Moscow Preview : Can United secure top spot?
Event Venue: Old Trafford, Kick off: 19:45. BT Sport.See Stats
Manchester United will finish top of their group if they can avoid defeat against CSKA Moscow in their final Group A game in the Champions League. It would have been easier for United if they had of gotten something from their battle in Basel a couple of weeks ago, but now they enter the final game with both CSKA and Basel sitting on nine points jostling for the second spot in the group. Moscow will have to beat United by four clear goals to usurp them in their position at the top of the group.
The last week has been pretty special for Manchester United. A 4-2 win over Watford was followed up with a wonderful 3-1 victory away over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. While David De Gea was the star of the show against the Gunners, Jesse Lingard has reached new heights following these two fixtures with three goals to show for his efforts. The return of Paul Pogba has been huge for the Man United midfield and although he saw red against Arsenal last time out, he is ok to feature in European competition. Will Jose Mourinho unleash Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku on the Russians? There's no denying the sheer talent of that front three, but Mourinho rarely opts to deploy all three of them. With Lingard in electric form, he is almost guaranteed to play and the Red Devils should be something close to full strength - just to endure they get the job done. The ball is certainly in their court.
Still in it
CSKA Moscow have won five of their last six games and they drew the other. Make no mistake about it; they enter this game in red-hot form and will take to Old Trafford with plenty of confidence. Worst case scenario? They qualify for the Europa League. Best case scenario? They redeem themselves and smash Man United to qualify for the knockout stages. The problem with them beating Man United is the evidence of the first leg. Veteran defenders like Sergei Ignashevich and the Berezutski twins were destroyed by the pace and power of United and, in particular, the skill and direct running of Martial. They'll be having nightmares at the prospect of facing the Frenchman again, but in Alan Dzagoev, Vitinho and Aleksandr Golovin, they have plenty of attacking threats of their own.
When these two sides last met, the style and substance of United was way too much for CSKA and the idea of the Russians solving those problems on a bigger Old Trafford pitch is extremely slim to none. United will win here as CSKA go for it, probably by a few goals too.
- Man United beat CSKA 4-1 earlier on in this group
- CSKA have won five of their last six games
- Man United have won three games in a row
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