|Attempts on target||71||42|
|Attempts off target||72||67|
|B||Man. United||CSKA Moskva|
FC Rubin Kazan's eye-catching 2-1 win at FC Barcelona on Matchday 3 has filled Igor Akinfeev with hope as his PFC CSKA Moskva side head for Old Trafford to take on another continental heavyweight, with the goalkeeper noting: "It's a great development for Russian football."
The Russian champions earned a surprise win at Camp Nou two weeks ago while CSKA – in their final UEFA Champions League game under Juande Ramos – lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United FC. However, with new boss Leonid Slutski now installed in the dugout, Akinfeev sees reason for optimism in the return fixture thanks to Rubin's impressive new benchmark.
"Their victory was very important for Russian football," the 23-year-old explained. "Rubin showed their ability and managed to play like a top-class team in that match. It's a great development for Russian football. It's a great leap forward. Every time a club or the national team does something like that, it's significant."
United top Group B with a 100 per cent record, while CSKA are third on three points from their three games, but despite having only one striker available – Tomáš Necid – the Army Men still have second-placed VfL Wolfsburg in their sights. Not that Akinfeev has not been calculating group permutations on his days off, however.
"It's for the press to speculate," he said. "Players have to play. They should not be studying tables, counting points and goals conceded. We have to play good football in every game. It's eleven people who win and eleven who lose. If you want to count points, you should leave football straight away and go into the media."
Fifth in the Premier-Liga with no hope of reclaiming the title in their remaining three fixtures, CSKA are on to their third coach of the season after Ramos's exit followed the departure of Zico earlier in the season. Akinfeev, who has played over 200 games for CSKA in all competitions, is now hoping that the new trainer can steady the ship.
"The team needs some stability, so we hope that Slutski stays for a long time and brings it," said the player capped 37 times by Russia. "You can see it from his work with FC Moskva and Krylya Sovetov Samara that he can turn middling teams into strong ones. I hope that he can get the best out of our club for a long time to come."
The new coach might also bring some luck, with CSKA having narrowly missed out on a knockout phase place in 2004/05 and 2006/07, before collecting just one point in 2007/08. "The last campaign was a bit off, but we were only one [result] short in the previous two," said Akinfeev. "Both times were near misses, with fortune evading us."
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