MANCHESTER United will be looking to seize the initiative to take charge of Group B in their Champions League match against CSKA Moscow.
The Red Devils bounced back from their opening-game defeat to PSV Eindhoven with a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg and will set their sights on taking three points from their visit to the Russian capital.
Leonid Slutsky’s men produced a strong first-half display against PSV in their last match as they raced out into a 3-0 lead through a brace from Seydou Doumbia and a strike from Ahmed Musa.
Doumbia should have put the game beyond the reach of the Dutch side when CSKA were awarded a penalty just before half time, but the Ivorian sent his effort over the bar.
The Russian team almost paid for their inability to kill the match off as PSV rallied in the second half through a brace from Maxime Lestienne, but the dismissal of Santiago Arias allowed Slutsky’s side earn their first win of the group stage.
CSKA competed well in their opening game against Wolfsburg, but fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat. The manner of their display against PSV will have pleased Slutsky to get his side off the mark in the tournament and will now have his sights firmly set on causing an upset against the Red Devils.
The club are in good form at home and are unbeaten in their last 13 contests in all competitions at the Arena Khimki, with their last defeat coming at the hands of rivals Dynamo Moscow in April.
Moscow are also unbeaten in their last six competitive matches, with their last loss being the defeat to Wolfsburg in their Group B opener.
CSKA do have problems at the back as they have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight matches, conceding 13 goals in the process.
However, Slutsky’s side have found the net 17 times in the same amount of matches, so they have enough firepower to trouble Louis van Gaal’s men.
The Red Devils got off to the worst possible start in the competition when they were defeated by PSV in their trip to the Philips Stadion.
Hector Moreno and Luciano Narsingh guided the Dutch side to a comeback win in their Group B opener, leaving United under pressure to get back to winning ways against Wolfsburg.
Against the German team, they fell behind in the fourth minute when Daniel Caligiuri found the net. Juan Mata restored parity from the penalty spot and Chris Smalling secured the win in the second half to get the club off the mark.
All four teams in the group are now positioned on three points, having all collected a victory in their opening two matches leaving qualification for the knockout stage wide open.
Van Gaal will know that his side face a tough challenge to go to Moscow and record a victory. United have been inconsistent on their travels this season, losing three matches in defeats to Swansea City, Arsenal and PSV.
However, the club did end their recent problems travelling to Goodison Park with a strong performance to defeat Everton 3-0 on Saturday to keep their challenge for the Premier League title on course.
Van Gaal admitted that he would rather win the top-flight crown rather than the Champions League, but he will be determined to end his side’s patchy form in European competitions by securing a place in the knockout stage.
Wayne Rooney has showed signs of sparking into life with two goals in his last four matches, while the form of Mata will also please the Dutchman as his side look to seize control of the group in Moscow. —