Berezutski brothers assess CSKA campaign

The twins at the heart of PFC CSKA Moskva's defence, Vasili and Aleksei Berezutski, talk to about their partnership and the crucial trip to Trabzonspor AŞ.

Twins Aleksei (left) and Vasiliy Berezutskiy
Twins Aleksei (left) and Vasiliy Berezutskiy ©AFP

At the heart of defence for PFC CSKA Moskva and Russia are the familiar – and identical – figures of twins Vasili and Aleksei Berezutski.

The 29-year-olds, who began at FC Torpedo-ZIL Moskva, have been at CSKA since 2002. They hope to mark a decade at the club with a long UEFA Champions League run, a prospect helped by the 3-0 defeat of Trabzonspor AŞ a fortnight ago that lifted them into Group B second place. Both twins spoke to ahead of Wednesday's return in Turkey. How do you assess CSKA's start in the Champions League?

Vasili Berezutski: We are in second place at the moment, although we have the same points as Trabzonspor, but I don't think that's an issue for us. Everything will depend on the next match when we play Trabzonspor away. In theory a draw with Lille is not a bad result, but we didn't deserve the defeat by Inter. But anything can happen, everything can be rectified, everything is in our hands. We can still achieve qualification from the group.

Aleksei Berezutski: To be honest, I was hoping that we would play better, but our current situation is not too bad. A game with Trabzonspor is awaiting us. This time we will play away, and there it will be more difficult. But if we manage to win I think our situation in the group will be rather good. After a slow start, how important was it for you to beat Trabzonspor?

Aleksei: I think if we hadn't beaten Trabzonspor, our chances of qualifying and advancing further in the Champions League would have been doubtful. I think we might have managed to get into the Europa League, but not stay in the Champions League. Will Wednesday's return in Turkey be a totally different match to the one you had in Moscow?

Vasili: It's always very difficult to play in Turkey. On the other hand, any team will find it easier to play at home. But we have every chance, we played Beşiktaş before, and beat them. Therefore I don't think it's a big problem. This match is also very important for us, and we certainly need to win it.

Aleksei: Yes, it will be very difficult there. First of all, because of the Turkish fans; it's always very difficult to play in Turkey because the fans are absolutely fantastic, and Turkish teams become unrecognisable. But I think we have a good chance to win. Seydou Doumbia is in his best form this season in the Champions League. How important is he for the team, and what is his contribution?

Vasili: Very important. He is a very good striker and a good and cheerful guy. If we manage to succeed, I believe Seydou could be the striker of the Champions League. As everybody knows, you partner each other in defence. How helpful is it to play with your twin brother?

Aleksei: It's hard to judge the football side only, because we are together in life. But naturally we have a mutual understanding on the pitch. Certainly it helps us. It's hard to add anything else.

Vasili: Well, we have known each other from very early childhood, so to speak, and our mutual understanding is absolutely 100%; I know how he will behave at this or that moment, and vice versa. Therefore those moments are much easier for us when on the pitch. Do you compete with Aleksei to some extent?

Vasili: Perhaps to some extent when we were younger, but now we are more relaxed about things, as we are more experienced players. Such competitiveness isn't present on the pitch, but in life we constantly argue and play somewhat different games, and for us it matters.