Champions League – CSKA host Roma in what will be a battle of survival for the Red Army team. CSKA Moscow had a massive reality check on matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League. The Koni were the surprise team on matchday 2 after beating Real Madrid at the Luzhniki in Moscow.
Spanish teams, however, have traditionally struggled when travelling to Russia. Furthermore, Roma knew what was coming, and head coach Eusebio Di Francesco saw right through CSKA head coach Viktor Goncharenko’s tactic.
Relying on their typical 3-4-2-1 formation, CSKA were unable to contain Roma, who romped to a 3-0 victory. Edin Dzeko, in particular, had a field day at the Olimpico scoring two goals.
Since then CSKA have struggled to find their rhythm as Goncharenko has moved away from the 3-4-2-1 formation. The Roma result was followed by a 2-1 defeat at home to Krasnodar and a 0-0 draw against Dinamo Moscow at the Khimki on Saturday.
In both those games, CSKA went with four in the back in what looked like a classical 4-2-3-1 formation. The major problem with that setup has been the lack of natural wingers in the CSKA side, and as a result, Goncharenko’s attempt to install a more cultured approach in his Red Army side has been futile.
It will, therefore, be interesting to see whether Goncharenko will change his formation and play with three in the back against Roma. After all, it was an approach that worked against Real Madrid, and a more defensive approach would allow a more natural role to midfielders Alan Dzagoev and Nikola Vlasic, who are not made for a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Roma, in the meantime, moved to the top of Group G with an emphatic home win against CSKA Moscow on matchday three and travel to Russia for the reverse fixture looking for more of the same. Domestically the Giallorossi, however, have struggled since beating CSKA on matchday 3.
Currently in ninth place in the standings, Roma drew Napoli 1-1 on matchday 10 and then followed that result up with another 1-1 draw against Fiorentina on matchday 11. With just 16 points from the first 11 games, Roma are already 15 points behind league leaders Juventus and more importantly five points out of the Champions League race.