Group B Kick-off: 19-45 (BST)
CSKA Moscow coach Juande Ramos is looking forward to pitting his wits against Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson when last season’s runners-up travel to Russia for their third Group B game.
United are returning to the Luzhniki Stadium, scene of their 2008 final win against Chelsea, but despite the emotions stirred by a return to the Russian capital, the United manager is fully focused on the task in hand.
“What I like about Russia is that the players are very disciplined, ready to listen and take on new things so training is very positive,” said Ramos.
“Some United players won’t feature but I’m sure they will find replacements, just as we will replace the players we are missing. The game will be a kind of barometer for us, showing how close we are to clubs like United. We will be looking to win, to pick up three points and have the chance to do that at home.
“They have a big match against Liverpool this weekend but [Wednesday’s] game, in terms of emotion and the challenge will be comparable to Liverpool. I don’t think they will take it easy in any way. Of course, two big matches so close to each other will make their coach shift the workload somehow, but they want to win the group so they need to play for victory.”
Ferguson acknowledged that he had great memories of the Moscow final, but refused to dwell on them.
“Obviously I have fantastic memories [of the Moscow final] but these are things of the past,” he said. “It was wonderful and I won’t forget it but we have a more important match tomorrow.
“We have analysed CSKA quite a lot in the last two weeks. It is an interesting combination: they have more experienced players in the back four and good young players in front in [Milos] Krasic and [Alan] Dzagoev. They keep the ball down all the time and show good speed.
“The [Russian] league becomes stronger and can be compared to other good leagues like Germany and France. There are new teams like Zenit St. Petersburg and Rubin Kazan – it shows there is room for people with ambition. CSKA are now fifth and need to win all the games to qualify for Europe, so that shows the level of the league. It’s not an easy league at all. Our advantage is that we have very good players.”
United will be without Wayne Rooney (calf), Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, Ji-Sung Park (knee), Darren Fletcher and Owen Hargreaves (knee), while there are doubts over the fitness of Nemanja Vidic and Dimitar Berbatov