Manchester City will play their crucial Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow in front of a sold-out Etihad Stadium – but only after they resorted to offering two-for-one tickets to reach capacity.
City came in for criticism in their last Champions League group game to be played at home as they failed to sell-out tickets for the 1-1 draw with Roma, something that The Independent’s columnist Paul Scholes questioned due to the importance of the fixture following the opening defeat to Bayern Munich.
Only 37,509 fans attended the draw with the Italian side, but a capacity 45,500 – Uefa reduces the maximum capacity from 46,708 – is expected to turnout for Wednesday night’s match.
Added to this problem is that CSKA Moscow fans are banned from travelling to the game due to the sanction imposed on them by Uefa for the “racist behaviour” by their fans during the trip to Roma in September. The same ban should have seen the 2-2 draw between City and CSKA at the Arena Khimki played behind closed doors, but a portion of CSKA fans were able to gain access due to sponsor ticket holders allowed to attend the match.
With that in mind, City need to fill the stadium with their own fans on a Wednesday night, and having shown difficulty in doing so already this season, they have offered a two-for-one deal on the game to attract more fans.
There’s no doubting that Manuel Pellegrini’s side need all the support they can get, as they languish down in third in Group E with just two points, two off Roma and a worrying seven off Bayern. Anything but victory would likely see City miss out of progression to the last-16, while defeat would mean they would need to beat Bayern at home and Roma away with results also going in their favour to stand any chance of reaching the first knockout stage.
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