CSKA ready to neutralise Sporting's home comfort

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The Independent Online

Valeriy Gazzaev, the CSKA Moscow coach, is not unduly concerned about Sporting Lisbon's home advantage in the Uefa Cup final here tonight.

Valeriy Gazzaev, the CSKA Moscow coach, is not unduly concerned about Sporting Lisbon's home advantage in the Uefa Cup final here tonight.

The Estadio Jose Alvalade is the venue and CSKA are sure to face a hostile reception as they try to overcome a side looking to bounce back from the weekend defeat at Benfica which ended their challenge for the Portuguese league title.

But Gazzaev dismissed suggestions that home support made Sporting the favourites. "We know they are playing at home, but it is a final and it should not make any difference," he said. "The atmosphere will be of no concern. The players know what kind of game they will play and they are in good condition.

"In a major final, players want to show their best, there is pressure and sometimes emotions can get out of control. We need to monitor that. Players can get worked up on such a stage and there could well be dismissals."

In their last game, CSKA, whose sponsors, Sibneft, have Roman Abramovich as a major shareholder, lost to Zenit St Petersburg in the Russian Cup semi-final first leg, but Gazzaev was "satisfied with our preparation and the injuries we suffered in the game against Zenit have now cleared up".

But he acknowledged that Sporting presented a formidable challenge. "They are a very powerful team and have good players like Ricardo, Fabio Rochemback, Sa Pinto and Pedro Barbosa," he said. "It is a good mix of youth and experience, but we have followed virtually all of their games and we know how they play."

His Sporting counterpart, Jose Peseiro, has been heavily criticised since the defeat to Benfica for using negative tactics in a game Sporting needed to win. "Against Benfica we had 13 shots and they only had eight, so we were attacking," he said. "We never go out with a defensive mindset and that will apply against CSKA."

The Brazilian striker, Liedson, who is the side's top scorer, will return to the line-up after being suspended for the Benfica game.

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