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Moscow decider for Madrid

Published: Monday 17 March 2003, 21.02CET
Despite a poor record in Russia, Real Madrid CF's European destiny is in their own hands.

Tournament statistics

Lokomotiv MoskvaReal Madrid

Goals scored8
Attempts on target53
Attempts off target74
Fouls committed222
Yellow cards27
Red cards1

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Published: Monday 17 March 2003, 21.02CET

Moscow decider for Madrid

Despite a poor record in Russia, Real Madrid CF's European destiny is in their own hands.

By Simon Hart

Real Madrid CF may need to make a little piece of history on Tuesday night as they look to secure their place in the UEFA Champions League last eight.

Poor record
The holders have not won in Russia in eleven years of the Champions League and only victory will guarantee their progress from Group C; any other outcome and their fate will hang on BV Borussia Dortmund's result at an AC Milan side who have already won the group. Dortmund, who sit a point behind second-placed Madrid, will overtake the Spaniards if they can better their result.

Freezing temperatures
Madrid's record in the Russian capital provides cold comfort. They have lost on their last three visits, including a 2-0 reverse against Lokomotiv last season, albeit in their final game of a first group stage section they had already won. That is not the sole reason for them to shiver: the temperature in Moscow is expected to be below freezing.

All to play for
Vicente del Bosque's team needed a late Raúl González equaliser to rescue a point at home to Lokomotiv and while the Russian champions now have only pride to play for, Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has admitted there is no margin for error. "It's all going to be decided on the turn of this card," he said. "One stupid mistake or a poor piece of play could see us knocked out."

'Victory is a must'
Casillas stressed, however, that Madrid's destiny lay in their own hands. "The good thing is that we only depend upon ourselves to reach the quarter-finals. If we get into trouble we'll know we've messed things up by ourselves. Victory is a must for us in this game."
Conditions less than perfect
According to Casillas, the state of the pitch at the Lokomotiv stadium is, like the weather, "different from what we're used to" but he was confident Madrid would rise to the occasion. "Afterwards we've got a five-hour flight back and that will seem like a very long journey if we don't seal our place in the quarter-finals," he said.

Helguera doubt
The Argentinian Santiago Solari will replace the suspended Roberto Carlos in Madrid's starting lineup while French international Claude Makelele returns in midfield after missing Saturday's 1-0 win at Villarreal CF, which kept Madrid top of the Primera División. However, Ivan Helguera, who scored the only goal at Villarreal, is a doubt after injuring an ankle in training and in his absence Rubén González would partner Francisco Pavón in central defence.

Loskov returns
Lokomotiv, meanwhile, are missing the Costa Rica striker Winston Parks, who joined James Obiorah on the treatment table after picking up a knock in the 2-1 victory against FC Uralan Elista with which they began their domestic title defence at the weekend. However, Maxim Buznikin, another striker, may return after missing the games against Elista and Dortmund, while captain Dmitri Loskov is back after suspension.

Semin warning
Lokomotiv coach Yuri Semin warned that the conditions would not facilitate good football. "It is hard for us to play quality football on our pitch and at this time of year," he said. "There will be a lot of challenges, a lot of turnovers [and] the team which shows more will to win every ball with win."

Last updated: 18/03/03 20.37CET