CSKA Moscow vs Roma – Wednesday, November 7, 17:55GMT/18:55CET/20:55MSK – Luzhniki, Moscow, Russia
CSKA Moscow had a massive reality check on matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League. The Koni were the surprise team on matchday 2 after beating Real Madrid at the Luzhniki in Moscow.
Spanish teams, however, have traditionally struggled when travelling to Russia. Furthermore, Roma knew what was coming, and head coach Eusebio Di Francesco saw right through CSKA head coach Viktor Goncharenko’s tactic.
Relying on their typical 3-4-2-1 formation, CSKA were unable to contain Roma, who romped to a 3-0 victory. Edin Dzeko, in particular, had a field day at the Olimpico scoring two goals.
Since then CSKA have struggled to find their rhythm as Goncharenko has moved away from the 3-4-2-1 formation. The Roma result was followed by a 2-1 defeat at home to Krasnodar and a 0-0 draw against Dinamo Moscow at the Khimki on Saturday.
In both those games, CSKA went with four in the back in what looked like a classical 4-2-3-1 formation. The major problem with that setup has been the lack of natural wingers in the CSKA side, and as a result, Goncharenko’s attempt to install a more cultured approach in his Red Army side has been futile.
It will, therefore, be interesting to see whether Goncharenko will change his formation and play with three in the back against Roma. After all, it was an approach that worked against Real Madrid, and a more defensive approach would allow a more natural role to midfielders Alan Dzagoev and Nikola Vlasic, who are not made for a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Roma, in the meantime, moved to the top of Group G with an emphatic home win against CSKA Moscow on matchday three and travel to Russia for the reverse fixture looking for more of the same. Domestically the Giallorossi, however, have struggled since beating CSKA on matchday 3.
Currently in ninth place in the standings, Roma drew Napoli 1-1 on matchday 10 and then followed that result up with another 1-1 draw against Fiorentina on matchday 11. With just 16 points from the first 11 games, Roma are already 15 points behind league leaders Juventus and more importantly five points out of the Champions League race.
Head coach Eusebio Di Francesco, therefore, needs a positive result in the Champions League to get his side back on track. A resounding win against CSKA would do exactly that as the Giallorossi would go five points clear of CSKA and with just two games left would have all but secured their passage to the round of 16.
CSKA Moscow vs Roma – Players to look out for:
Rodrigo Becão #50 – CSKA Moscow
Rodrigo Becão has been one of the best transfers of the season. The 22-year-old Brazilian ranks among the best defenders in the league and has been a major reason that CSKA have been able to compensate for the retirement of Ignashevich and the Berezutski twins.
Lorenzo Pellegrini #7 – AS Roma
Roma’s stuttering start to this season has overshadowed the threat posed by Lorenzo Pellegrini. Snatched up from Sassuolo last summer, the Italian international has the potential to become a complete midfielder with his speed of the mark and eye for goal. His creativity in the middle allows for attacks to spring more fluidly and must be countered of CSKA hold hops of stemming the flow of service to Roma’s wide players. In eight overall appearances in all competitions this season, he has only registered three assists and scored once, but in just over 100 minutes of Champions League action, he has already made nine key passes.
CSKA Moscow vs Roma – Match Stats
- Roma picked up four points when the sides met in the 2014/15 group stage, winning 5-1 in Italy – the only home victory in the clubs’ four contests prior to matchday three – before a 1-1 draw in Russia.
- In the 1991/92 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round, Roma went through on away goals thanks to a 2-1 first-leg win in Moscow; the Giallorossi progressed despite a 1-0 reverse in the home return.
- The Russian club won four of their eight European home games in 2017/18 (D1 L3), although they lost two of three in the group stage.
- Excluding qualifying ties, and despite the win against Madrid, CSKA have won only three of their last 12 European home fixtures (D4 L5).
- CSKA have lost three of their last five European fixtures at home to Italian clubs (W1 D1), all the defeats coming against Internazionale – including in the last such encounter, a 3-2 reverse in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage.
- The loss in Madrid on matchday one made it five successive away defeats in Europe for Roma. They lost all three away matches in last season’s knockout rounds – conceding 11 goals in the process – and also went down 2-0 at Atlético on matchday five.
- Roma won only one of their six away games in last season’s UEFA Champions League – 2-1 at Qarabağ on matchday two – and have tasted victory in only three of their last 18 European away encounters (D6 L9).
- The Giallorossi are, however, unbeaten in Russia, winning on their first three visits before that 1-1 draw with CSKA in 2014.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: CSKA Moscow vs Roma – 2-3
CSKA Moscow vs Roma – Lineups
Akinfeev – Chernov, Magnusson, Rodrigo Becão – Nababkin, Akhmetov, Oblyakov Mario Fernandes – Dzagoev, Vlasic – Chalov
Head Coach: Viktor Goncharenko
Olsen – Kolarov, Juan Jesus, Fazio, Florenzi – Nzonzi, Pellegrini – El Shaarawy, Zaniolo, Ünder – Dzeko
Head Coach: Eusebio Di Francesco
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.