Manchester United’s Juan Mata is fully focused on the Champions League with all four teams in Group B tied on three points after two games.
Mata and the rest of the United squad will fly out to Moscow soon ahead of a tough game against CSKA, currently top of the Russian Premier League. Mata knows it will not be easy to get a win in the Russian capital, where United won the UEFA Champions League in 2008.
United were impressively fluid and fast in their 3-0 win over Everton on Saturday where Mata was subbed off at half-time for Jesse Lingard, meaning the 27-year-old is likely to start against CSKA.
The side won’t revel in that victory though and won’t only look towards next weekend’s Manchester derby which a win in could see United leapfrog title challengers Manchester City and go top of the table. Mata says everyone is focused on Europe’s biggest club competition.
“As from today, we are already focused on the Champions League; you know it’s a very important competition for us,” the Spaniard wrote on his weekly blog for Kicca on Monday.
“We have three points after the first two weeks and the game in Moscow could be crucial. Defeating CSKA would give us momentum ahead of the last three games.”
United beat CSKA away from home in the group stages of the Champions League in 2009 and grabbed a late 3-3 draw at home. Mata is hoping to replicate the away win, where Antonio Valencia scored a late goal.
He added: “I’ve been told that Antonio Valencia scored the winner for United the last time the team visited CSKA, so we will ask him for the secret to beat them because they haven’t lost at home this season, both in the group stage and in the previous rounds.”
The Reds know that playing on the artificial surface at CSKA’s Luzhniki Stadium will be a challenge, but it’s one some have faced before, in that game in 2009, with Valencia and Michael Carrick playing that day.