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Season 2013/14

Slavic Football Union: An introduction to CSKA Moscow

  • 21 October 2013 10:38
  • Posted by @markbooth_mcfc, words by @Dommnorris

Experts on all matters concerning Eastern European football, the Slavic Football Union, provide us with this handy guide to City's next UEFA Champions League opponents.

It was in 1971 that CSKA Moscow enjoyed their first forays into the European Cup, fresh from the club's first Soviet Top League title in two decades, however it wasn't until the dissolution of the Soviet Union that they became a regular fixture on the continent.

Since the turn of the Millennium, CSKA have become one of Russia's most prominent exports in European competition, culminating in the team being crowned as UEFA Cup champions in 2005. 

However the club have come under criticism for not building upon the foundations of such a major success, and have only navigated their way out of a Champions League group twice since that point.

"Last season's Premier League victory, in which they managed to overthrow Zenit St Petersburg's recent stranglehold on the title, was a coming of age moment for a young, vibrant team and their coach, Leonid Slutsky." 

...Slavic Football Union on CSKA...

Since taking the reins in 2009, following the unsuccessful appointments of Zico and Juande Ramos, Slutsky has often found himself under a barrage of stinging criticism due to the perception that the club had failed to close the gap on Zenit, and previous champions Rubin Kazan. 

The manner in which CSKA managed to overcome their long standing demons and triumph ahead of an imploding Zenit side last season showed that the club's faith in Slutsky was justified.

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Since the club lifted the trophy in the spring, results have not exactly been as strong as one would expect from the league champions. 

Goals have been extremely difficult to come by, especially in the absence of the prolific Seydou Doumbia, and the team have generally lacked the craft and penetration needed to damage deep lying defences. 

The 4231 formation that proved to be so effective last season has fallen foul this time round, despite much of the personnel remaining the same.

"The return of Seydou Doumbia from injury will provide the club with a much needed boost as they look to provide a greater attacking threat." 

...Guest blog...

The Ivorian forward remains one of European football's most clinical finishers, and his presence in the starting line-up will give welcome respite to Ahmed Musa, who has been overly relied upon for goals throughout the season. 

Doumbia's goal scoring ability could also serve to revitalise Keisuke Honda who, despite looking increasingly disillusioned with life in Moscow, remains a key source of creativity. 

It's also important for CSKA to ensure that the likes of Zoran Tosic and Steven Zuber aren't dragged too far in field from the flank, for when the team are brave enough to play with width then they become a far more intimidating outfit.

cska Moscow

It will be vital for CSKA's chances that they are able to gain a foothold in central areas. The role of Pontus Wernbloom will be all important due to the physicality that he provides in front of the back four - you can put a safe bet on him picking up a yellow card - while Rasmus Elm needs to be assertive in his distribution from deep. 

CSKA have suffered major problems in gaining control of the midfield in Europe this season and while Bayern Munich's dismantling may be entirely unsurprising, the way Viktoria Plzeň ghosted through the midfield on the break set alarm bells ringing.

"Should CSKA find themselves in a position whereby they have a chance of progressing out of the group then it will be reliant upon their home form." 

...@Dommnorris on CSKA...

Travelling to Moscow remains one of the lengthiest trips in this season's Champions League draw and CSKA must build upon the difficulties opponents have in the ever plummeting Moscow climate. 

Progression isn't necessarily an expectation, but positive showings are a must for Leonid Slutsky if he is to remain in charge of one of Russian football's grandest institutions.


For more on Eastern European football, visit the excellent http://www.sfunion.net and follow @Dommnorris on Twitter.

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