Manchester United will settle for a point away to CSKA Moscow in their Uefa Champions League Group B clash on Wednesday, according to the club’s Dutch manager Louis van Gaal.
United, back in Europe’s top club competition after a year’s absence, have three points from their opening two games, recovering after losing their opener at PSV Eindhoven to beat German club VfL Wolfsburg at Old Trafford. “I said before the away match against PSV Eindhoven, one point is good. Three points is better but one point is good,” van Gaal told a news conference.
Considering United went on to lose to PSV, putting them immediately under pressure, Van Gaal will hope those words do not come back to bite him. The squad arrived late on Tuesday after leaving it until the last minute to fly to the Russian capital -- the scene of their 2008 triumph in the final against Chelsea. It gives the three-times European champions scant time to get used to conditions at the Arena Khimki, not the Luzhniki Stadium where they beat Chelsea because that venue is under reconstruction for the 2018 World Cup.
“We trained in Manchester today because of the logistics and the way we have to prepare for matches,” he explained. “We were told that there would be traffic jams in Moscow so we thought it would be better to train at home on our training ground.
“My preference is to train here, because then the players know the circumstances and where they have to play, but in this case we decided to train in Manchester.”
Despite the game being played in a different stadium, Wayne Rooney said returning to Moscow with United revived special memories, describing the win over Chelsea on penalties as “possibly the greatest moment in my club career.”
“Winning this trophy gives you a desire to win it again. This is a different group of players, but hopefully myself and Michael Carrick, who also won it here, can share our experience and help the others.”
United will be without James Wilson, Ashley Young and Paddy McNair for Wednesday’s game. Winger Young was injured against Arsenal before the international break while 20-year-old defender McNair is still recovering from the abdominal injury he suffered while playing for Northern Ireland. Striker Wilson is ill and despite training on Tuesday, was left at home by van Gaal.
All four teams in Group B have three points after two games.