PFC CSKA Moskva have never lost against Spanish opposition but that record will be consigned to dust on Tuesday if Fábio Coentrão gets his way. The Real Madrid CF defender, when alerted by a local journalist to CSKA's unbeaten sequence of five matches against sides from Spain, did not hesitate to respond: "Let's hope they lose tomorrow."
CSKA's record includes two-legged victories over FC Barcelona in the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League second round and Sevilla FC in the round of 16 two seasons ago, and much has been said about the freezing conditions, and artificial surface, helping their prospects of claiming another Spanish scalp at the Luzhniki Stadium. Coentrão was more concerned, however, about the quality in the home ranks. "
I don't think the cold will make things much more difficult, I think what will worry us is the quality CSKA have. We have to start the game well, however cold it might be."
Madrid go into the tie as favourites having won all six games in the group phase with 19 goals scored and two conceded, and Coentrão, who sat out the Liga leaders' 4-0 victory against Real Racing Club on Saturday, noted that they should fear no opponents: "We are a team with a lot of quality and have some of the best players in the world in our ranks."
His only problem is earning a regular place in it. The versatile Portuguese international has started nine of Madrid's 23 Liga games since arriving from SL Benfica last summer, but has featured in five of their UEFA Champions League fixtures, starting four of them. "
I work hard every day to play but we have a very strong squad, and I'm prepared for anything – to play or not to. It's the manager who decides," said the 23-year-old who has featured at left-back, in left midfield and also in a defensive midfield role.
"Of course I want to start the game, just like any player who has flown with the team to Moscow would want to," he added when it was pointed out that the player who attends the pre-match conference with José Mourinho tends to start the next day. This is one tradition he intends to uphold; CSKA's proud history against Spanish sides is another matter altogether, though.
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