With three defeats in their last four games, coach Leonid Slutski is hoping a change of scenery will do his PFC CSKA Moskva side good as they look to get their Group D campaign up and running at the expense of FC Viktoria Plzeň. In a match that will be held in St Petersburg due to the condition of the pitch in Moscow, both coaches picked out home playmaker Keisuke Honda as a key man, with Pavel Vrba urging Plzeň to prove they belong at this level.
Leonid Slutski, coach
From the available options it is better to play in St Petersburg than abroad. Recently we have had a lot of flights and played on different pitches. We are very grateful to Zenit for putting us up in their stadium and we hope the St Petersburg fans will support us too.
Every game is important for us; it is necessary to win and break up the situation we are in. This match is also of strategic importance in terms of fighting for a place in the group. We have some players who've been in more difficult situations than this. I hope our experience will help us.
We have a lot of information about our opponents; we have studied them. Pavel Horváth, the captain, is very good, and the team as a whole is strong and skilled.
Much of our attacking play depends on how Honda plays. In recent outings we have performed poorly, and Keisuke has to show leadership skills to take responsibility for a lot of action on the field, to lead the team with him.
Saturday: FC Terek Grozny 2-0 CSKA (Kanu 19, Lebedenko 74)
Akinfeev; Ignashevich, A Berezutski, Nababkin, V Berezutski; Wernbloom, Milanov (Bazelyuk 67), Tošić (Vitinho 46), Zuber (Elm 46), Honda; Musa.
• CSKA have lost three of their last four matches in all competitions, a sequence that started with a 3-0 defeat by FC Bayern München on matchday one. They have not scored in any of those four fixtures, a run of 379 minutes in all.
Rasmus Elm, who had been sidelined since 4 August with a calf injury, came on at half-time against Terek. Alan Dzagoev and Seydou Doumbia have both been out with hamstring problems but Mário Fernandes – victim of a cruciate ligament injury in May – has resumed full training. Aleksandrs Cauņa is on the treatment table until November with a fractured big toe.
Pavel Vrba, coach
We have studied CSKA and know their strengths. They may not be playing their best football but they remain a fine team. They are particularly strong in the middle of the park, with Keisuke Honda a key player. We expect them to rise to the occasion.
The Russian league continues to get stronger and stronger and this is reflected in European competition. This is a very important match for us and our opponents. We want to do our talking on the field and prove we can compete at this level.
Friday: FC Vysočina Jihlava 1-2 Plzeň (Harba 16; Rajtoral 10, Bakoš 79)
Kozáčik; Řezník (Kolář 67), Hubník, Procházka, Limberský (Kovařík 23); Petržela, Horváth, Hořava, Pospíšil, Rajtoral; Tecl (Bakoš 63).
• Plzeň had gone 272 minutes without a goal before František Rajtoral struck the opener on Friday. Vrba's side remain unbeaten after ten rounds of the Czech First League, recording seven wins and three draws.
Left-back David Limberský went off with a thigh injury on Friday and has been laid off for six weeks. Marián Čišovský has missed the last five fixtures with a calf problem but another defender, Radim Řezník, is back after four weeks out with a thigh complaint.
• Plzeň arrive in the Russian capital boasting an impressive unbeaten streak on their travels in Europe. Since losing their opening away fixture of last season's UEFA Europa League group stage at Club Atlético de Madrid, Vrba's men have registered five wins and two draws on the road.