CSKA aim to freeze out Sevilla

MOSCOW - CSKA Moscow must overcome a prolonged winter break and the possible loss of playmaker Alan Dzagoyev when they host Sevilla in the Champions League first knockout round on Wednesday.

The Russians said the first leg would go ahead as scheduled despite the fact a huge storm hit Moscow this week, dropping more than half a metre of snow on the capital over the last few days.

CSKA fans were hoping cold weather and Luzhniki's artificial turf would give their team the edge but full back Vasily Berezutsky was taking nothing for granted.

"It would be a big mistake to think the Spaniards would just fall over on the slippery surface and give us a clean path to their goal," Berezutsky was quoted as saying by local media.

"As far as the cold, both teams will be on equal terms. We must also have to get used to the cold after spending the last several weeks training in Spain and Turkey," he said. "It's been a tough training camp so we should be fit and ready to play."

CSKA have played only one competitive match in almost three months - a 2-1 win over Besiktas in Istanbul on December 8 - that clinched them a place in the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition for the first time.

Berezutsky's twin brother Alexei and fellow defender Sergei Ignashevich are available for Wednesday's game after serving a one-match ban for breaking doping regulations at November's Champions League match against Manchester United.

The players escaped a longer suspension when UEFA's disciplinary committee ruled that they had been the victims of a procedural error by the club's medical staff.

However, Dzagoyev, one of CSKA's key players, was likely to remain on the bench, nursing a painful groin injury.


Sevilla go into the match on something of a high after they became the first team to come away from Real Mallorca's Ono Estadi with any points this season thanks to Saturday's 3-1 victory in La Liga that cemented their hold on fourth.

Coach Manolo Jimenez will be without striker Luis Fabiano and winger Diego Capel, who are both injured, for the trip to Moscow, but Frederic Kanoute is available after the Mali forward shook off a muscle injury that sidelined him at the weekend.

President Jose Maria del Nido left no doubt on Monday as to the importance of Champions League success to the club.

"In economic terms, progress to the next round has been written into the budget for this season and if we don't manage it we will start to talk about negative figures," he told a news conference.

"Not conceding (in Moscow) is of fundamental importance and if we can score a goal that would be the icing on the cake."

Probable teams:

CSKA Moscow: 35-Igor Akinfeyev; 24-Vasily Berezutsky, 4-Sergei Ignashevich, 6-Alexei Berezutsky, 42-Georgy Shchennikov; 2-Deividas Semberas, 7-Keisuke Honda, 13-Mark Gonzalez, 17-Milos Krasic, 11-Pavel Mamayev; 89-Tomas Necid.

Sevilla: 1-Andres Palop; 15-Marius Stankevicius, 2-Federico Fazio, 3-Ivica Dragutinovic, 18-Fernando Navarro; 7-Jesus Navas, 22-Ndri Romaric, 8-Didier Zokora, 25-Diego Perotti; 12-Frederic Kanoute, 19-Alvaro Negredo.