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Champions League: FC Bayern vs. CSKA Moscow | Preview

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Title holders Bayern look to get off to a fast start at home against Russian opponents CSKA Moscow as the team continues to have to deal with injuries to key players.

Alex Grimm

"Really, we don't care about the game, we just want to see the footage of Lahm lifting the trophy at the end of the 'Chompyons' song before every match."

Bayern's Champions League group stage success is almost unparalleled, having advanced from their group every time except for once, in 2002, and of course in the season in which they did not qualify for the competition at all in 2007/08.


That's the hope for this season, at the very least, as Bayern begin their title-defense campaign on Tuesday against CSKA Moscow, the team mostly known around the world for employing the Japanese free kick master Keisuke Honda.

However, CSKA have a rich history, and were for the majority of the Soviet Union's existence, the official club of the Red Army. For a period of time, the club was known as the Experimental & Demonstrational Playground of Military Education Association, which sounds like the worst summer camp ever.

On the field, they have won the Russian league 11 times, including last year when they beat Zenit by only two points at the top of the table to get Russia's only automatic bid into the Champions League.

In 2010, they lost by two goals over two legs to eventual UCL winners Inter (not that we would know anything about that) in the quarterfinals of the competition, their best ever performance in modern European play. That is unless you count winning the 2005 Europa League against Sporting Club Portugal in Sporting's own stadium (also not that we'd know anything about losing a European final in our own stadium) a bigger accomplishment.

Bayern have never played this Russian team, but Franck Ribery (with Marseille) and Arjen Robben (with Chelsea) have both defeated them in the last decade, both in the Champions League.  Robben managed to score the winning goal in Moscow.

As for Bayern's league form, an encouraging display against Hannover on the weekend will serve to boost the team's confidence as they certainly looked to play more as a team, despite so many key players being injured.

Philipp Lahm put in a good shift in midfield in what was by far his best performance since having to occasionally fill in for Javi Martinez or Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Speaking of Schweinsteiger, he should be fit to play against CSKA, meaning a permanent return to the attacking midfield for Toni Kroos, should the team stick to their 4-1-4-1 formation. Kroos did, however, seem to play a little closer to Lahm against the 96ers than he had in other matches this season, so maybe Guardiola (or perhaps Kroos on his own) is seeing the merits of the double-pivot that served the team so well last season. There were not as many counterattacks as in previous matches, even though H96 are known for being potent on the counter.

The match begins at the usual European start time of 20:45 for those in the Allianz Arena, or 1:45 pm CST in the Americas.

The referee is Gianluca Rocchi of Italy.