Marouane Fellaini is expecting a very different type of game to the Premier League when Manchester United face off against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.
Having gone 12 games undefeated, CSKA are a team in great form but Man United will be the toughest test they have had this season.
United’s free-flowing display at Goodison Park at the weekend was one of the best team displays we’ve seen in a long time under Louis van Gaal, yet Fellaini believes it will be an altogether different match in the Champions League.
“For me, European games are more tactical,” he said.
“We play against great teams but it’s a different type of football. In England, it’s more attack, attack, attack. In Europe, it’s more about tactics.
“Both teams will want to win and it will be different for both teams [to domestic football]. We know how to play; the manager and the staff have watched a lot of games on the opponents so we know how to play.”
When it comes to tactics away from home in Europe, United had a very traditional style of play under Sir Alex Ferguson. We’d sit deep and have a lone striker, typically Wayne Rooney, high up the pitch ready to burst away on the counter-attack. It was a tactic which served us very well.
Away at PSV Eindhoven, it’s hard to look at United’s tactics because Luke Shaw‘s horror injury affected the players mentally. Anthony Martial held the ball up very well to let his team-mates overlap but the game resulted in a loss, so we can’t afford to repeat that mistake tonight in Moscow.
United’s defensive structure against Everton was as good as it has been all season and that foundation is something van Gaal will want to bring into this Champions League tie. If we can defend as well as that and hit hard on the counter-attack, there’s no reason why United can’t control the game.
If we fail to do that, it could end up being a very difficult night. Time for the players to channel their inner 2008 memories from when we won the competition in Moscow…