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Champions League Preview: CSKA Moscow - Inter

Kick Off: Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 18:30 CET.
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia.

Hopes Are Slim But They Are Alive

This is the first time in their history that CSKA Moscow have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the Russians seemed overwhelmed by the big occasion last week in the first leg game against Inter. The Italian champions dominated the former UEFA Cup winners for the most part and could have scored three or four goals with ease.

However, in the end it finished just 1-0 to the Nerazzurri and this has left the tie finely balance for the return leg. CSKA Moscow will certainly allow themselves a good chance of reaching the semi-finals of Europe's most prestigious club competition.

CSKA, whose Russian Premier League fixture against Zenit St. Petersburg at the weekend was postponed due to security reasons, have lost just once in the Champions League this season at home and that was to Manchester United as they went down narrowly 1-0 at the Luzhniki Stadium. Moreover, in their last two seasons of European football, one of them in the now rebranded UEFA Cup, CSKA have scored in all but one of their home fixtures

However, in their last home match in the European Cup CSKA conceded a goal as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Spanish side Sevilla in the first leg of their last 16 tie. So the Army Men will be aware not to raise up their hopes too much.

Furthermore, Inter defeated Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in their last away fixture in Europe and coach Jose Mourinho will try to ensure that Inter do not concede in Moscow by trying to to keep it tight at the back, especially on a synthetic pitch that is said in some quarters to be of a disadvantage for la Beneamata.

One Step Away From Redemption

Inter have long been criticised for dominating only in Italy and failing miserably in Europe. Indeed, for the last three seasons the Nerazzurri had failed to reach even the quarter-finals of the Champions League, dropping out from the last 16 stage every time.

However, this season it's been largely different as, after somewhat limping through the group stage, Jose Mourinho's side have looked very organised and professional. They defeated Chelsea both home and away in the last 16 stage and have an 1-0 advantage going into the second leg of their quarter-final tie with CSKA.

But Mourinho and his unit will be wary that it is not a big advantage and that they should have buried the tie at the San Siro in Milan last Wednesday when they had loads of chances. Playing on a synthetic pitch might be a problem too.

Form-wise Inter could be doing better, though they hammered Bologna 3-0 at home on Saturday afternoon to maintain their one-point lead at the top of the table in Serie A. Interestingly, Inter have scored in all but one away game in the Champions League this campaign.


FORM GUIDE

CSKA Moscow

March 31 v Inter (A) - LOST 1-0 (Champions League)

March 26 v Anzhi (A) - WON 2-1 (Russian Premier League)

March 21 v Dynamo Moscow (H) - DREW 0-0 (Russian Premier League)

March 16 v Sevilla (A) - WON 2-1 (Champions League)

March 12 v Amkar (H) - WON 1-0 (Russian Premier League)

Inter

April 3 v Bologna (H) - WON 3-0 (Serie A)

March 31 v CSKA Moscow (H) - WON 1-0 (Champions League)

March 27 v Roma (A) - LOST 2-1 (Serie A)

March 24 v Livorno (H) - WON 3-0 (Serie A)

March 20 v Palermo (A) - DREW 1-1 (Serie A)

 

TEAM NEWS

CSKA Moscow

Midfielders Milos Krasic and Evgeni Aldonin are suspended for the second leg in Moscow as both picked up yellow cards last week. Attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev is likely to replace Krasic in the starting XI.

Probable Line-up (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev; A. Berezutsky, V. Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Schennikov; Semberas, Rahimic; Dzagoev, Honda, Gonzalez; Necid

Inter

Striker Mario Balotelli has been recalled to the Inter side for the European match and this is a major boost for the Nerazzurri. The Italian teenager scored against Bologna on Saturday in Serie A and it is likely that he will be given a start in Moscow. Lucio and Thiago Motta will return from suspension but Davide Santon is not included in the 23-man squad.

Probable Line-up (4-2-1-3): Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu; Zanetti, Cambiasso; Sneijder; Balotelli, Milito, Eto'o


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alexei Berezutski (CSKA Moscow)

The Russian international had a good game against Inter last week. The 27-year-old was dominant in the air and also looked strong on the ground. Berezutski made a crucial goal-line clearance from Goran Pandev and he will have to be at his best on Tuesday too.

Diego Milito (Inter)

The Argentine international striker scored the only goal in the first leg last week and will be a key player for Inter on Tuesday evening too. Milito is gradually grooving into European football and is starting to show the form that he has been showing in Serie A for quite some time. His runs, touches and passes will be key for the Italian side in Moscow.


PREDICTION

CSKA Moscow are quite strong at home and will do everything to score. However, they shall have two key players missing and this should swing the advantage towards Inter. The Italian champions have a one-goal lead and coach Jose Mourinho knows how to set up his team so that they don't concede.

CSKA Moscow 0-0 Inter



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