Preview: Roma v CSKA Moskva

Leonid Slutski and Rudi García both attempted to discard the favourites' tag ahead of up-and-coming AS Roma's home meeting with experienced PFC CSKA Moskva.

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Roma coach Rudi García calls CSKA Moskva "the strongest team in Group E"
Roma without influential midfielders Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman
The Giallorossi have won two out of two this season
Leonid Slutski says CSKA will have to curb their attacking instincts
The CSKA boss also reveals how a cat ended his playing career

Possible lineups
Roma: De Sanctis; Maicon, Manolas, Astori, Cole; Pjanić, Keita, Nainggolan; Iturbe, Totti, Gervinho.
Out: Daniele De Rossi (suspended), Kevin Strootman (knee), Leandro Castán (earache)

CSKA: Akinfeev; Mário Fernandes, V Berezutski, Ignashevich, Nababkin; Tošić, Natcho, Eremenko, Milanov; Panchenko, Musa.
Out: Alan Dzagoev (suspended), Pontus Wernbloom (suspended), Rasmus Elm (stomach), Georgi Schennikov (ankle), Vitinho (ankle)

Rudi García, Roma coach
CSKA have played seven matches already this season, we have only played two. At the moment they are the strongest team in Group E. There aren't weaker teams at this level – absolutely not. CSKA have a much better pedigree in UEFA competitions than us, because they play in a group stage every year. They have talented, fast players and an excellent defence.

I know that my players are 100% ready and they will do everything they can to win – I trust them. I faced CSKA when I was LOSC Lille coach, they still have the same coach and some of the same players, but I have another team, AS Roma, with different players – this will be different.

Leonid Slutski, CSKA coach
Bayern and Manchester City are favourites to go through to the round of 16 but we are spurred on by this: it will be very important for us to face them and assess our level. I think we are better than a year ago because we have strong new players like Roman Eremenko. I'm sure we have reached a higher level.

Roma have an amazing attack, with players like Francesco Totti, Gervinho, Juan Manuel Iturbe and Miralem Pjanić. They can produce some magic at any moment and we will have to pay a lot of attention. CSKA Moskva are a team that are used to attacking, but against someone like Roma we have to defend first and foremost, then we will have to be able to try to counterattack.

I don't think we are the favourites tomorrow, even if we have played so many times in UEFA competition in recent years. In any case, I am not signing up for a draw. I've already faced Rudi García when he was at LOSC Lille. I suppose he has the same approach but with much stronger players.

How did my playing career end? I stopped playing after falling out of a tree trying to retrieve my neighbour's cat. I was 19 and soon turned to coaching.

Weekend results
Empoli FC 0-1 Roma  (Sepe og 45+1)
CSKA 2-1 FC Arsenal Tula (Natcho 20pen, Eremenko 78; Zotov 50)

Form guide (all competitions)
Roma: WW

Match facts
• CSKA have won on their last two trips to Italy, but who were their opponents? Find out in our extensive match background.