Champions League 2015/16 profiles: CSKA Moscow
Russian juggernauts CSKA Moscow, 7/4 with Coral to qualify from Group B, will be aiming to make it tricky for Champions League pool rivals Manchester United, Wolfsburg and PSV Eindhoven.
Currently running amok in their domestic league, and beaten just once across all competitions this campaign, can CSKA pull off a continental shock?
Domestic league: Russian Premier League
How they qualified: Runners-up spot in the Russian Premier League saw the Red-blues qualify for the Champions League play-offs. Defeats of Sparta Prague and Sporting Lisbon have since allowed them entrance into the competition proper.
Best Champions League era performance: CSKA had their best run in 2009/10, when the Russians fell 2-0 on aggregate at the quarter-final hurdle to eventual winners Inter Milan.
Coach: Leonid Slutsky. According to reports, the former custodian’s playing career was cut short after Slutsky injured his knee falling out of a tree to rescue a cat, but he has since found success as a coach.
The 44-year-old, currently juggling managerial roles with both CSKA and Russia, has lifted the Russian Premier League twice.
Ins and outs: There was not much transfer merry-go-round action in Moscow, with former striker Seydou Doumbia, loaned back from Roma after being sold last summer, the only addition of note.
Familiar faces: Wily winger Zoran Tosic famously had a short and not-so-sweet stint with Manchester United, for whom he made just five appearances. Will he show the Red Devils what they are missing when he meets his former team?
Eagle-eyed Championship viewers may recognise Latvian midfielder Aleksandrs Cauna, who toiled for just five games in England’s second tier with Watford back in 2009.
Key player: Captain and keeper Igor Akinfeev is solid between the sticks for his boyhood club, playing with a confidence and composure which trickles down to the rest of the team. He has been patrolling the posts at Arena Khimki for over a decade.
Ones to watch: Nigerian marksman Ahmed Musa has taken over the scoring mantle from Doumbia somewhat, while Tosic and regular Russia international Alan Dzagoev provide plenty of threat from midfield.
Emerging talent: Club academy graduate Aleksandr Golovin (19) could play a more important part in midfield this campaign, while ex-Barcelona youngster Amir Natcho (also 19) was snapped up this summer for free.
CL group and fixtures:
v Wolfsburg (Away), September 15th
v PSV Eindhoven (Home), September 30th
v Manchester United (Home), October 21st
v Manchester United (Away), November 3rd
v Wolfsburg (Home), November 25th
v PSV Eindhoven (Away), December 8th