A heavy pitch at the Arena Khimki will not make life easy for PFC CKSA Moskva defender Georgi Schennikov as his side look to defend stoutly at home against Manchester City FC.
The wettest September in 130 years in the Russian capital led to extreme measures – the Army Men played their UEFA Champions League matchday two fixture against FC Viktoria Plzeň nearly 650km from the capital in St Petersburg. However, they are back at the Arena Khimki for the Group D visit of City – though Schennikov still expects the going to be a little on the heavy side. "When I looked at it, it seemed fine, but today we will be training at our training ground," the 22-year-old explained. "It's playable and we will not be looking to make excuses if things don't go well for us."
Of more concern to the defender is CSKA's recent tendency to ship goals – they conceded three in a defeat by FC Spartak Moskva in the league, and in their matchday one loss at FC Bayern München, while their success against Plzeň was a little too close for comfort. "We have started to concede a lot of goals in our last few games," Schennikov said. "But we are looking ahead and want to concede fewer and try and keep more clean sheets."
That will be no easy task against Manuel Pellegrini's all-star City side, who scored three at Plzeň in their previous Group D away game and are eager to make amends after being taken apart at home by Bayern last time out. "They have got a word-class lineup with very few weaknesses," conceded Schennikov. "Their forwards particularly impress me and there is a lot of competition for places. Take Jesús Navas – he's a very good player, and we played against him when he was at Sevilla FC."
The task ahead is a tough one, then, but the twice-capped left-back saw last season what CSKA were capable of, as Leonid Slutski guided them to a domestic treble. "I have played 150 matches for CSKA and there have been good times and bad times," he reflected. "Last season was a great campaign for us as we won all the trophies on offer and the mood in the camp couldn't have been better."
Rain and a few unwelcome results may have dampened that euphoria a bit, but a win against City would go a long way to raising morale once more.