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‘A point, ideally a win’

FCB head for Moscow without Mandzukic

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Mario Mandzukic stayed at home when the Bayern stars set off on Tuesday morning for the Champions League Group D fixture away to CSKA Moscow. The Croatia international has a calf injury sustained while representing his country in the World Cup play-offs last week and has remained in Munich for treatment. In his place 18-year-old reserve starlet Julian Green makes a first appearance in Pep Guardiola’s senior squad.

“We want at least a point and ideally a win,” declared FCB president Uli Hoeneß as the party prepared for the 2,000 km flight to the Russian capital. “It would put us in an outstanding position prior to the final match against Manchester, because we want to win the group at all costs.“

“If we win we’re as good as guaranteed to finish top of the group,” agreed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge prior to take-off. Listing the other motivating factors towards playing for victory, the chairman mentioned the UEFA win bonus of €1 million and two points in the UEFA coefficient ranking. “And that would be good for us.”

Covering of snow in Moscow

The players, coaching staff and officials gathered at snowy Munich airport at 8 am on Tuesday. Apart from Mandzukic the definite absentees are Franck Ribéry, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xherdan Shaqiri, Claudio Pizarro, Diego Contento and Holger Badstuber. After around three hours in the air, the Munich party will disembark in the Russian capital, where there is also a light dusting of snow, at 3 pm local time, three hours ahead of CET.

The group will transfer by bus from the airport to Khimki, a suburb of 200,000 to the north-west of Moscow and location of CSKA’s home Khimki Arena where the evening press conference and pre-match training take place. Just like Munich, today’s air temperature in Moscow is around freezing, although the thermometer could drop as low as -5°C for Wednesday evening’s match.