Temperatures of -10C await them but coach José Mourinho is backing Real Madrid CF to overcome the conditions and a PFC CSKA Moskva side whose defensive qualities he noted.
Article top media content
José Mourinho is backing his Real Madrid CF team to overcome the inhospitality that awaits them at PFC CSKA Moskva on Tuesday, namely temperatures of -10C and a formidable back line. He needs no introduction to the latter, having won all four of his previous encounters with the Russian club in the UEFA Champions League with FC Internazionale Milano and Chelsea FC. CSKA will, says coach Leonid Slutski, have to be at their best to prevent number five in this round of 16 first leg – especially as they have not played a competitive game since 7 December.
Coach Leonid Slutski
The most important thing for a coach is to prepare his team tactically, although morale and mental preparations are also important. We have a specific game plan. When we are up against a team we are superior to, we can guarantee the result by implementing the plan. But in games like this we need favourable circumstances, we need Real to be under par and then to capitalise [on this]. Every team makes errors; we must be ready for them.
In theory Real should be in a better place because they are in the middle of their season, playing regularly and getting good results. But it was the same last week for Zenit, when they played a team [SL Benfica] whose championship is in full swing and they showed that you can prepare well without competitive matches. If anything, Zenit looked better prepared.
Real are strong. They are dangerous on the counterattack, even in the second phase. They can attack through the middle or with strong play on the flanks. You can close the space and prevent them from breaking with pace but that in itself is not necessarily enough; you need a comprehensive approach. I will be satisfied with any score that allows us to go through to the next round. Even our new players are ready – their knees aren't trembling.
CSKA have not played a competitive match since their 2-1 victory at FC Internazionale Milano on 7 December because the Russian Premier-Liga does not resume until 3 March after the winter break. They have played a host of friendlies, most recently last Thursday when goals from Zoran Tošić and winter signing Ahmed Musa earned a 2-2 draw with FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
Tomáš Necid has recovered from torn knee ligaments suffered on 10 June and Keisuke Honda has returned to training after a knee injury although the first leg comes too soon for him. Igor Akinfeev (torn knee ligaments, out since 28 August) and Mark González (hip, 30 April) remain sidelined, as is Aleksandrs Cauņa after breaking his toe last month.
Coach José Mourinho
Before I start answering questions I would like to congratulate our basketball team that beat Barcelona in the final. Tomorrow we have to be stronger than the conditions, with the artificial pitch and also temperatures of -10C, which is something new for all of us. We have not been able to prepare for the conditions that await so we have to adopt the right mental approach: we must be stronger. Our goal is a positive result, a win or a score draw.
I have faced CSKA with Inter and also Chelsea in 2004. Many CSKA players have been playing for the club for ages and know each other very well, supplemented by newcomers like [Seydou] Doumbia and Musa. It is not for nothing that CSKA play in the Champions League play-offs every year. That shows the strength of the club. One of their strong points is defence; I remember with Inter how hard it was to score.
The foundations that CSKA have have not changed for years. And all the teams that work with solid foundations improve as CSKA have done. They are very good in defence, and both physically and tactically the players are well prepared.
Saturday: Real Madrid 4-0 Real Racing Club (Ronaldo 6, Benzema 45+1 89, Di María 73)
Casillas; Ramos, Pepe (Carvalho 76), Varane, Marcelo; Özil (Di María 63), Granero (Khedira 71), Alonso, Kaká, Ronaldo; Benzema.
• Racing had Domingo Cisma sent off after 39 minutes as Mourinho's side, shorn of the suspended Álvaro Arbeloa, claimed an eighth successive Liga win. Madrid have won 27 of their last 30 games in all competitions, finding the net in every match during that run.
Ángel Di María has been ruled out of the CSKA trip with muscle bruising picked up on Saturday, his first appearance of 2012. Lassana Diarra (back) and Hamit Altıntop (torn calf) are also sidelined.
These teams have never met before but CSKA will be eyeing revenge on Mourinho, whose Inter team beat them in the 2009/10 quarter-finals on their way to lifting the trophy. It was the furthest the Moscow club had progressed in the competition but they lost both legs 1-0.