CSKA will surely feel they can get something from this trip to Old Trafford.
Man Utd picked up a crucial point in Moscow two weeks ago to leave them in a good position to qualify. However, they’ve since played three consecutive nil-nils and the pressure is beginning to mount again on a team that continues to lack the flair and freedom normally associated with Manchester United.
These sides currently have identical records so United will certainly be aiming to take all three points as Wolfsburg currently look well placed to take one of the two qualifying spots. However, they are likely to have to do without Memphis Depay, while Morgan Schneiderlin is also a fresh doubt and so we should see Wayne Rooney continue up front with Anthony Martial on the left and the combination of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick operating from deep.
United’s play is clearly too slow and lacking a cutting edge with the attackers unwilling to either take defenders on or run in behind, so CSKA will surely feel they can get something from this trip. A comfortable win at the weekend means they are still unbeaten in Russia this season and are now nine points clear of their nearest challengers. Since the start of 2012 they’ve lost eight of their 10 away games in the Champions League but within that they did win a year ago in Manchester – 2-1 over City – and they pushed Wolfsburg hard in a narrow 1-0 loss earlier in the group stage. That game and two trips to Bayern Munich are the only times they’ve failed to score in their last 11 away games in this competition as they’ve found the net at venues such as Man City (twice), Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Roma.
Man Utd’s current scoring troubles and record of just two wins by more than one goal in their last 17 Champions League group stage home matches means they have to be opposed here. CSKA can be backed on the Asian Handicap +1.0 at almost evens and that looks outstanding value for a team that hasn’t been beaten by more than one goal throughout 2015.
We liked Seydou Doumbia to score when these teams met last month but in a match that doesn’t promise a lot of goal action we’d avoid the goalscorer markets, though it may pay to back Under 2.5 Goals at 1/1. Nine of United’s last 14 home matches in the Champions League group stages have had fewer than three goals, including fewer than two in seven, and with CSKA conceding just twice in their last four matches they look increasingly solid at the back.
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