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PFC CSKA Moskva midfielder Evgeni Aldonin expects sparks to fly as his side take on FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Cup, telling uefa.com: "Russia against Ukraine is a big football rivalry and the Luzhniki game will be no exception."
The two sides were regular opponents in the days of the Soviet Union and have met three times since in a pre-season friendly tournament held in Israel, with Shakhtar prevailing 3-1 in their most recent encounter in January. "We know Shakhtar quite well," Aldonin said. "It makes our match against them even more interesting."
The Crimean-born Aldonin knows what Ukrainian champions Shakhtar have to offer, but is undaunted by the prospect of facing Mircea Lucescu's side. "I saw some of their game against Tottenham Hotspur and I could see Shakhtar are a solid team," he said. "They are very successful in Ukraine, always rival Dynamo Kyiv for the title and will be in a different shape to us as their league is up and running. But I would not say that they were favourites."
Aldonin, 29, is back in training after sustaining a knee injury two weeks ago and remains a doubt for the Shakhtar game, while Ramón is certainly out after a freak accident, as Zico explains: "Ramón saw something on the floor of his flat and decided to kick it, mistaking a piece of glass for metal." Tomáš Necid, who scored the winner on his debut on Saturday as CSKA beat champions FC Rubin Kazan 2-1 to claim the Russian Super Cup, is ineligible having played for SK Slavia Praha in the UEFA Cup this season but Yuri Zhirkov is expected to shake off the ankle problem that kept him out of training on Monday.
Shakhtar have been in Moscow since Sunday, having beaten FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1-0 to move to within a point of second-placed FC Metalist Kharkiv in the league. "This is our main task for the season," said Lucescu. "We came to Moscow early because our hosts are used to the Luzhniki's artifical pitch while our players need some time to get acquainted with it. CSKA are an experienced, confident team who have been playing with the same squad for the last few years," he said. "We have freshened our team up significantly during the last three or four seasons. However, that may give us a certain advantage as we know them better than they know us."
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