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Champions League group rivals profiled

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Champions League group rivals profiled

Postby FCBayernNews » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:40 am

Bayern face CSKA Moscow for the first time in European competition. The men from the Russian capital claimed the domestic double last term, narrowly edging out dethroned champions Zenit St Petersburg in the league and defeating Anzhi Makhachkala on penalties to win the cup. Six games into the new season, CSKA are back on top of the Russian Football Premier League ahead of local rivals Locomotive Moscow.

CSKA, the elite Army club in the former Soviet Union but now privately owned, are 11-time domestic champions and 12-time cup winners. Coach Leonid Slutsky took the helm in 2009 and immediately led the club to the Champions League quarter-finals, where they were beaten by eventual winners Inter Milan. Two years later, CSKA were knocked out by Real Madrid in the last sixteen.

CSKA's nominal home stadium is the 18,500-capacity Arena Khimki, which they share with rivals Dynamo Moscow as both clubs await completion of new stadiums. It is highly possible that the meeting with FCB will be switched to the nation's biggest arena, the 78,360-seat Luzhniki Stadium at the heart of the Moscow Olympic complex. The best-known players currently representing CSKA are captain and keeper Igor Akinfeev, Japanese import Keisuke Honda, and Sweden international Rasmus Elm.

The English Premier League runners-up and Germany's biggest club have got to know each other well in recent years. The teams last met earlier this month on 1 August in the final of the Audi Cup 2013, which ended in a 2-1 victory for Bayern. The sides were also drawn together in the Champions League group stage back in 2011/12. FCB won an absorbing encounter in Munich 2-0, but lost the return in England by the same score, although it was a dead rubber from a Bayern point of view as FCB were already through as group winners and Jupp Heynckes sent out a second-choice side.

City were beaten to the Premier League title last term by bitter rivals Manchester United, prompting the owners to install former Málaga boss Manuel Pellegrini as head coach. The Blues have invested heavily this summer in the likes of Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina), Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk), Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas (both Seville), and are now determined to improve on a disappointing Champions League record over the last two seasons.

Plzen is the fourth-biggest city in the Czech Republic with 168,000 inhabitants. Gambrinus liga champions Viktoria play their home games at the Doosan Arena, previously known as Stadion města Plzně (Plzeň municipal stadium), with a capacity now restored to 11,700 after modernisation in 2011. In their one previous appearance in the Champions League group stage two years ago, Viktoria switched their home fixtures to the Eden Arena in Prague, venue for this year’s UEFA Super Cup.

Bayern and Plzen have met just once in the past, in the first round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971/72, when a Munich team including the likes of Beckenbauer and Hoeneß ran up a comfortable 7-1 aggregate victory. Plzen most recently faced German opposition in February 2012, when they drew 1-1 with Schalke at Stadion města Plzně in a Europa League Round of 32 tie.

Viktoria are now back in the elite competition after defeating Bosnian side Željezničar Sarajevo, Estonian outfit Nõmme Kalju and NK Maribor of Slovenia in qualifying. Superstars Petr Cech and Pavel Nedved both started out with Viktoria, with the best-known of the current squad being veteran captain Pavel Horvath and Czech international Milan Petržela, who made 12 appearances for FC Augsburg last term.
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