Back In the USSR (Prioritised Preview)
Grand Sports Arena of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex
Oh boy, how to get excited about this one? How am I supposed to be bothered if Martin O`Neill isn`t, let alone the fact that no UK TV station is actually covering Villa`s 2nd leg UEFA Cup tie against CSKA Moscow?
Prioritisation was the word on everybody`s lips as the Villa boss takes what can only be described as a "weakened" side to Russia, with the club now feeling the wrath of those who have spent up to and some well above £1,000 to make the journey.
So it`s 1-1 from the first leg, with Vagner Love dazzling the full-strength side, one can only imagine what he will do to our second string midfield. Still it`s Villa, it`s CSKA Moscow, COME ON SALIFOU!
(Please note, this article was previously titled "From Russia With Love" however upon noticing that Jack Woodward had already used this, I decided not to sound like a complete amateur.)
Q.) Who said this?
"'I am frustrated he can't play; he played for a team not in the competition so the logic isn't right. But it's the rule, and we can't complain because we knew that when we bought him. But the logic is not obvious."
It is to me mate, it`s called being "cup tied."
Turning our attention away from Mr Wenger and his crazy antics, Villa boss Martin O`Neill has been similarly odd in his media commitments this week. As mentioned previously this UEFA Cup squad that`s jetted out to Russia is somewhat wide of the Marx compared to what the travelling Villans would have hoped for. Here`s a Monny Montage:
The Good: "We have some really capable players - as we showed in Prague. I'm sure they will step up to the mark again.
"We should look forward to the challenge. You hear talk and you'd think we are beaten already. That wouldn't be my view."
The Bad: "I accept CSKA Moscow hold the advantage - we won't have long to practice on the plastic surface - but we are capable of winning.
"It will be difficult of course. It would have been even if we went with every single player in the squad."
The Downright Ugly: "Whether in time it proves to be correct is in the lap of the gods. "I've made a decision and I stand by it. Am I comfortable with it? I'm not sure you're ever comfortable."
The lap of the God`s Martin? I don`t think you should be relying on organised religion to get an away goal!
On a more positive note, the weakened squad does allow the up and coming youngsters to perhaps get a taste of what could be yet another great European Night (at least it will be marketed as such for next years UEFA cup ties! ;o) )
Youngster Barry Bannan who had a brief cameo as Villa crashed to Hamburg with as the similarly-second-string-squad-suffered a miserable old time, is hoping to get another chance to show what he can do. The pint-sized starlet told avfc.co.uk:
"That was only the start,' he said. 'I know I have to keep working hard and hopefully a few more opportunities will come my way.
"I've been happy with my form for the reserves so far this season and my aim is to keep improving."
"It's hard to describe how I felt - probably the best feeling I've had in football so far."
Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall, CSKA`s Brazilian boss Zico or to give him his real name, Arthur Antunes Coimbra isn`t taking Villa for granted, despite having a few swipes at what is (even to some Villans) a rather one-dimensional aspect to our play when the going gets tough.
"It's a very difficult time for them," said Zico.
"They have a lot of games, one after another, in a very short time, and this is the price you pay to take part in this tournament.
"Just because their best players are at home, that does not make it any easier for us, not at all. There is no easy game, especially in the UEFA Cup.
"If a player is at Aston Villa it is because he has a lot of talent and ability."
I take it you haven`t seen Salifou before then Mr Coimbra?
CSKA Moskva Team News:
According to Santa, Zico welcomes back Anton Grigoriev and Deividas Semberas who missed the first leg due to suspension. Aside from that, I can`t actually find that much team news. I very much doubt, after tormenting the Villans, that Vagner Love will be rested.
Player to watch: Vagner Love
The tournaments top scorer is a dangerous player at any point on the pitch, and I think many of us (General K included) were impressed with his performance and would love to see him pop up in Claret & Blue. If Sali could kick him in the first 5, it`d make life easier.
AVFC Brum Team News:
Ah heck, I wasn`t looking forward to this bit. Villa have deliberately left behind a number of players to rest them up ahead of Sunday`s Premier League clash with Stoke City. Brad Friedel, Carlos Cuellar, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Ashley Young, Stiliyan Petrov and Gabriel Agbonlahor will all enjoy the game from home, or probably (whilst the boss is away…) the pub.
Martin Laursen, Nigel Reo-Coker and Wilfred Bouma are all still Kaputnik.
Villa Squad: Brad Mk.II, Stuart Taylor, Elliot Parish, Luke Young, Curtis Davies, Zatyiah the Giant, Nikolas Shorey, Eric Lichaj, Ciaran Clarkski, Shane Lowry, Steve Sidwell, Salifou (yay!), Craig Gardner, Isaiah Osbournov, Boris Bannan, Marc Albrighton, Hare, John "It was Diet Coke, honest" Carew, The Fonz.
(Had to make it sound interesting, somehow.)
Player to watch: John Carew, Carew
You really want to be a Villa legend JC? Well get us 3 goals in the cold eh?
Match Facts & Stats
A blast from the past, an enjoyable one too!
Super, smashing, great.
Staying with things all peace time, the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov is 1005ft long. It can house up to 15 naval fighters and 25 helicopters.
It may also be possibly large enough to house John Carew`s ego, although this is current unconfirmed.
The Russian`s were the first nation to put a man made object, dog, monkey and human into space.
With so much detailed scientific data on placing objects into space, it is unknown as to why Nigel Reo-Coker is unable to master a similar ability.
Maria Sharapova is the top earning female sports star in the world, and is someone who looks in need of a bit of Western spirit in her. Add Anna Kournikova to that list too, amongst others.
Just for Col8, often thought of as a Russian car, the Trabant was actually built in Germany.
For the singles out there, brides are available from Russia to come and look after you. In the interests of research (honest!) I have had a look at a few websites. One had a picture of a lady posing with an ironing board (handy!) Another, Alena, is interested in "ridiculous love," whatever that entails?
Please remember folks, tonights game is NOT on any UK TV channel. Apparently Ozzie beach babes are more interesting than watching Salifou play on Channel 5?
Coming between the might of the Russians and English pride, once again, are the Germans. Felix Brych takes charge of the game, assisted by Thorsten Schiffner, Mark Borsch, the man with the injury time board is Deniz Aytekin.
2-0 to the Villa with the priorotisation falling on it`s arse, Salifou and big John are the heroes. Mug and Fear will be around later no doubt.
Villa return to home comforts to take on Stoke City with this Sunday also seeing the return of Thomas Sorensen to Birmingham int' it.
Thanks for reading all, I'm off to find some ridiculous love.