Manchester United vs CSKA Moscow
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Paul Pogba will start Manchester United’s final Champions League group game against CSKA Moscow before he begins a three-match domestic ban.
The midfielder was sent off in Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League win at Arsenal.
United have decided not to appeal against the red card, meaning the France playmaker will be suspended for the Manchester derby at the weekend.
Nemanja Matic (muscle problem) is out while Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be rested but Luke Shaw could return to the side.
Shaw to start?
The former Southampton left-back has played just 48 minutes of first-team football this season.
Manchester United are all but through to the last 16 but a point will secure top spot in Group A and boss Jose Mourinho hinted the return of Shaw could be one of a few changes he makes.
“I am going to make a few, but not too many changes,” Mourinho said.
“We didn’t qualify yet, we didn’t finish first in the group yet, there are other clubs also involved in qualification and I need to keep a certain balance in the team.
“But when we speak about Luke Shaw, he’s working to have an opportunity and sooner or later that opportunity will arrive because he deserves that opportunity.
“He is selected for tomorrow for sure… to start or be on the bench, I cannot answer.”
Sergio Romero will start in goal as David de Gea is rested.
De Gea was superb against Arsenal at the weekend, making 14 saves including a stunning double stop from Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez.
When asked if he had seen a better goalkeeper this year, Mourinho responded playfully: “Yes. Romero.
“Because he plays tomorrow. My goalkeeper is always the best goalkeeper in the world.
“Now David is third best. Romero is number one and Joel [Pereira] number two.”
Manchester United can equal a club record of 40 successive home games unbeaten if they avoid defeat to CSKA Moscow.
However, ending that run has given CSKA Moscow’s players extra incentive to get a result.
“To be honest I didn’t know about this record and I hope we will be the first to end it,” said CSKA Moscow midfielder Alan Dzagoev.
“Of course Old Trafford is a special stadium, always a big attendance and I have a special feeling playing there.”
- CSKA Moscow are winless in their five previous games against Manchester Utd (D2 L3), all in the Champions League group stages. They have also failed to keep a clean sheet in their five games against the Red Devils.
- Manchester United have lost only two of their past 48 Champions League group games at Old Trafford (W34 D12), against Besiktas in November 2009 and Cluj in December 2012.
- Russian clubs have lost eight of their 12 away games in the Champions League against English opposition (W2 D2).
- However, CSKA Moscow have won their two away games in the competition this season (both by a 2-1 scoreline), already the most they have achieved in a Champions League campaign.
- A point against CSKA Moscow will guarantee top spot for Manchester Utd in Group A. They have not reached the knockout stages of the competition since 2013-14.
- CSKA Moscow will definitely qualify for the knockout stages if they better Basel’s result; failing that, they are already assured of third place and a Europa League spot. If Basel and CSKA both win, the top two will be decided in a three-way head to head with Manchester Utd.
- CSKA Moscow have failed to reach the knockout stages in their previous four Champions League appearances. The last time they made the last 16 was in 2011-12 when Real Madrid eventually knocked them out.
- CSKA’s last game against Benfica saw them keep a clean sheet for the first time in the Champions League since November 2011, putting an end to a run of 32 games where they had conceded at least one goal.
- In the last round of matches, Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the first player to feature for seven different teams in the Champions League (Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris SG, Manchester Utd).
- As manager, Jose Mourinho has faced CSKA Moscow seven times in the Champions League, winning six and drawing one. He is one of five managers to have won the European Cup/Champions League with two different clubs, alongside Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Jupp Heynckes and Carlo Ancelotti.