Champions League last-16 first leg preview

CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has warned his team to expect a difficult Champions League tie against CSKA Moscow in the freezing temperatures of the Stadion Luzhniki on Tuesday night. Mourinho is no stranger to these tough European examinations and has plenty of respect for the Russians who have only recently returned from their winter break.

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Real Madrid qualified as top of Group E having won all of their six matches, the only team to achieve a 100% record in the group stages of the competition this season. Only Barcelona managed to score more goals in qualification (20 to Madrid’s 19) whilst only Manchester United were able to match Madrid’s defensive record of only 2 goals conceded.

Mourinho, already twice a Champions League winner with Porto and Inter Milan, singled out Seydou Doumbia and Ahmed Musa amongst a strong squad. Real Madrid will be without Angel di Maria because of injury but Xabi Alonso, Kaka, Estaban Granero, Nuri Sahin and Sami Khedira are all with the squad.

Madrid could hardly be in better league form as they return to Champions League action. They are currently ten points clear of Primera rivals, and Champions League favourites, Barcelona. But there is no room for complacency in Mourinho’s plans as he shuffles his powerful squad for the knockout phase of the Champions League.

CSKA Moscow qualified as runners-up in Group B behind Inter Milan. They edged out Trabzonspor and Lille in a difficult group to make it through to the knockout phase. Moscow coach Leonid Slutsky admits that his side could be short of match practice but was greatly encouraged by Zenit St Petersburg’s 3-2 first leg victory over Benfica last week. Moscow do not even have the benefit of a recent league game as they prepare for the visit of Madrid but Slutsky hopes their training and eagerness will be enough to compensate for the lack of recent competitive play.

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Harvey Mayson

Harvey Mayson is a professional sports writer and artist living in South West Scotland. He began working at his local newspaper in the south of England before going freelance to work on specialist sporting publications. He writes for a number of specialist sports sites both at home and abroad including football, horse racing and sports betting sites. He has also covered a wide range of sporting events such as the Paralympic Games, Euro 2012 and the Grand National. Harvey is also well known as an equestrian artist and can be contacted through his website.

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