Underdogs CSKA would need both dedication and luck in order to succeed against Real Madrid in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League says Moscow team’s coach, Leonid Slutsky.
“It’s that rare case when CSKA have to play against an opponent, who is much stronger on paper,” Leonid Slutsky, CSKA coach, told Sport-Express newspaper. “If they produce their top game it’ll be difficult for us to to do something. So, two things have to happen for the happy outcome: we have to play our best football, while they don’t.”
Tuesday’s game will be CSKA’s first official encounter this year, while Spanish La Liga table toppers, Real Madrid, came to Moscow in a good mood after a 4-0 hammering of Racing Santander.
“We’re in for a very tough challenge,” the 40-year-old stressed. “Real are at their best now and no team in the world can take a positive result for granted in the match against them… Well, maybe there is one, but even Barcelona have to push themselves to the limit to prevail against the Madrid side.”
Slutsky told his boys that they have to begin strong in order to have any chances against Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.
“A lot will depend on the opening minutes of the match,” he said. “If we’re be able to start an equal battle – the opponents’ weaknesses will be revealed, but if we fail to feel the clash immediately, it’ll be very hard for us. When Real feel full of confidence they can’t be stopped.”
“Like any other super-team, Real Madrid, have few weak spots, but there are still some. Only sometimes they don’t show at all, but sometimes they can be exploited. Our task is to achieve the latter,” he added.
The absence of Russia’s best keeper, Igor Akinfeev, will make Slutsky’s task even more difficult.
But the coach expressed full confidence in substitute goalie, Sergey Chepchugov, despite the 26-year-old having played just six games for the main team.
“The pressure is going to be huge for everyone,” the coach explained. “The experience will, of course, help deal with it easier, but one has to start playing on a new level someday.”
It’s the second time CSKA have made it to the Champions League playoffs. They reached the quarterfinals in the 2009/10 season right after Slutsky took charge of the team.
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