Manchester City will be desperate to get their Champions League bid back on track when they travel to Moscow to face CSKA on October 23rd.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side got their campaign up and running with an encouraging 3-0 victory over Viktoria Plzen but came back down to earth with a bang against Bayern Munich. The holders showed why they are favourites to retain their trophy in a classy 3-1 win.
CSKA Moscow beat Plzen 3-2 last time out so it will be a tough assignment in a difficult environment for a City side that can ill-afford another defeat.
City have failed to make an impact in the competition since becoming a major force in England, although, in their defence, they did have horror draws in 2011 and 2012.
The 2011-12 Premier League champions have already gone one better than last term, when they lost all three games on the road. They need to put their setback against a special Bayern outfit to one side and focus on a crucial double-header against CSKA.
City are better equipped to enjoy a good season in Europe’s premier competition, with Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic adding to an already impressive squad. They are still finding their feet under Pellegrini; it is surely a matter of time before they find consistency.
The men from the Etihad Stadium would probably take a point from their away date in Russia, knowing they still have home games to come against both CSKA and Plzen.
More than anything, City need to prove they are a genuine threat to the likes of Bayern, Barcelona and Real Madrid. They have more than enough quality to make an impression in the Champions League; they just need to believe. Pellegrini’s men are 16/1 with BetVictor to lift the trophy in May.
CSKA are already eight points off the lead in the Russian Premier League and are the kind of side City should be beating, even away. The English club should have too much for the hosts, but there will not be much in it.