Manchester City have made a decent start to their Champions League campaign and they should be very determined to react with a win as they were thoroughly outplayed by Bayern Munich in the last round of games.
City travel to one of the biggest teams in Russia, playing at a ground where the pitch is likely to be more mud than it is turf and the temperature will also be much lower than City’s star players are used to.
However, the stats are very much on City’s side ahead of the game. Here’s how the two teams match up against each other in several key areas.
City are having more possession on average this season with 59% of the ball compared to the 55% enjoyed by CSKA Moscow.
City’s ability to control possession is a common feature of their game and what makes their possession stat more impressive, is that it’s come predominantly from games in a more difficult league.
City should be confident they can keep the ball well, despite the conditions, and wear down their opponents.
The passing success stats for each team also suggest that City use the ball better and move it more effectively when they do have possession.
City are completing 86% of passes throughout games this season which is higher than Moscow’s 81%.
What that suggests is that when City have the ball, it’s often very difficult for the opposition to get it off them again easily and quickly.
If the pitch really is as poor as reports are suggesting, then aerial tactics may become more favourable than trying to pass the ball into the back of the net.
City have the edge in terms of aerial duels, winning 7% more of their aerial match ups this season than their Russian opponents.
It’s no surprise considering City have some big players all over the field, perfectly shaped to come out on top in aerial battles.
There is nothing between the teams in terms of discipline.
City players have been shown 14 yellow cards so far this season while CSKA Moscow’s stars have been shown the same number, with the addition of one red card.
If it turns into a scrappy, aggressive and physical match then neither side appears to have an advantage in terms of discipline.
When City don’t have the ball, they are making 20 tackles per match trying to win back possession.
That’s higher than the 18 per game that CSKA are putting together and they are committing four fewer fouls per game on average.
That suggests City have a great ability to time challenges and press the opposition to stop prolonged spells of pressure from forming against them.
How do you see this match panning out?
image: © Pavel "KoraxDC" Kazachkov