Tuesday, September 27, 2016

CSKA Moscow FC

CSKA Moscow 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - UEFA Champions League, Group Stage Match 2

The Moscow Region is located in the basin of the Volga, Oka, Klyazma, and Moscow rivers and covers an area of 46 000 square km, which is considerably larger than Denmark, Switzerland, or Belgium. Forests cover a third of the territory of Moscow Region. They are home to elk, wild boar, deer, foxes, weasels, lynx, and martens, as well as all kinds of birds. Moscow’s climate is continental, though mild. There are no severe frosts or excessive heat, although deviations from normal seasonal temperatures are quite frequent. December, for example, might bring along long-run thaws. In summer, periods of heat might be alternated with the sudden cold weather and protracted rains. On average Moscow has 194 days of above-zero and 103 days of below-zero temperature every year. As the city grew, the differences in climate between Moscow and Moscow Region became more distinctive. During clear frosty nights it is usually colder in the country than in the city (the difference might reach 4-5 degrees centigrade, while 10-12 years ago it didn’t exceed 1-2 degrees). 
Arena CSKA is a multi-use stadium in Khodynka Field, Moscow. The construction of the stadium was completed in 2016. The construction process was started in 2007 has been halted several times, with the longest pause lasting 16 months (between 2009 and 2011). The stadium was designed with a capacity of 30,000 people. An integral part of it is a skyscraper aimed to resemble the UEFA Cup, first European trophy won by a Russian club with CSKA beating Sporting CP in 2005. The remaining three corners have office spaces and skyboxes instead of regular stands.

PFC Central Sport Club of the Army, Moscow is a Russian professional football club. It is based in Moscow, playing its home matches at the 30,000-capacity CSKA Moscow Stadium. The club is the most known division of the CSKA Moscow sports club. Founded in 1911, CSKA had its most successful period after World War II with five titles in six seasons. It won a total of 7 Soviet Top League championships, including the last-ever season in 1991. The club has also won 6 Russian Premier League titles, and the 2004–05 UEFA Cup. CSKA was the official team of the Soviet Army during the communist era. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union it has become privately owned, with the Ministry of Defence as a shareholder. Russian businessman Roman Abramovich's Sibneft corporation was a leading sponsor of the club from 2004 to 2006.

The third part of my Moscow trilogy was to attend this UEFA Champions League encounter. Having attended the U19 match between the same clubs earlier in the afternoon, we were aware that there are factions associated with CSKA who are not interested in the football. An earlier visit to the stadium proved such a point. The much travelled Adam Carne alerted us to one such individual hovering close by. This person was clearly tracking our movements and I saw him hiding in some bushes – the spiv Harry played by George Cole in the original St Trinians films springs to mind!

Having purchased match programmes and taken a few daylight photographs, we decided to frustrate ‘Harry’ by leaving the vicinity in a taxi. We returned to the stadium in plenty of time prior to the 21:45 kick off. The stadium is rather good and all areas afford a decent view. The Tottenham Hotspur support was housed in a segregated upper tier section behind one of the goals. All four sides of the stadium are two tiered and I would think if the home side was doing well, this arena would generate a great atmosphere. There is a general greyness about the stadium’s exterior and the walkways within the confines before you reach the seated arena. That said, this venue will see good service when Russia hosts the World Cup.

Having lost to AS Monaco in the first group match, Spurs really needed to get something from this fixture. I did not know what to expect of CSKA and was surprised that throughout the 90 minutes they offered very little. A second half goal from Heung-Min Son was enough to secure victory for the visitors. At the time of going to press CSKA has played three matches at their new home stadium. They have won, drawn and lost. Tottenham Hotspur will forever be credited as the first visiting side to win there and currently have as many victories there as CSKA.

After the match we were able to snaffle a cab in the Moscow darkness, it was already Wednesday morning by this time! My three game tour of Moscow football was drawing to a close and I was contemplating my journey home via Brussels. Three new grounds in a little over 24 hours too (never done that before). As for “Harry” -  for all I know he may still be in the bushes on his mobile phone – I do hope so!

Attendance: 26,153
Admission:  Ticket states 15 Euros
Programme: 300 Rubles (32 pages)

Click here for a full set of photographs

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