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  Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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On Friday, August 26, CSKA Moscow may capture a historic hat trick by winning the European Supercup after taking the UEFA Cup and the Cup of Russia
Only Liverpool, which completed perhaps the most famous fight back of all time in May against Milan in the Champions league final, stands in the Russian team's way. These two teams are probably the most combative in their home countries. Although Liverpool has not taken the English league title since the last 1980s, the Merseyside team's players are still fighters, and have taken great scalps such as Chelsea and Manchester United in addition to Milan on their European travels. CSKA is currently writing Russian soccer history. Twice runners-up to Lokomotiv Moscow in the league in the past three years, the side is steadily taking Russia up the European soccer ratings with its performances in the continent's club competitions. Last year, the army side just missed out on making it through to the later stages of the Champions League. The team, however, did not lose heart after it started its campaign in the UEFA Cup, which it won by defeating local favorites Sporting at Lisbon's Jose Alvalade stadium on May 18. And that means two Russian teams will be in the Champions League this season. But, curiously, CSKA, which has made this possible, may not play in Europe's premier club tournament, as it trails leader and constant rival Lokomotiv by seven points with nine matches left, and shares second place with Zenit St. Petersburg, only a point ahead of Spartak Moscow. So CSKA will have to fight hard at home. But on Friday, all domestic squabbles will be forgotten, and Russian soccer fans will be rooting for them. This is particularly true after Lokomotiv was knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday night by Rapid Vienna, something of an outsider in European terms, and now, with CSKA, will be playing UEFA Cup football. Perhaps between them they will climb this peak once more. The army with face another test of character in the Liverpool match. Ill luck seems to be following the Moscow club, with players heading off to the physio's table one after the other. A few days before the Supercup final, CSKA lost Croatian striker Ivica Olic, and Brazilian forward Vagner Love is also a fitness worry. As a result, 20-year-old Sergei Samodin led the CSKA attack in the last domestic match with Zenit. It may well be that he and equally young forwards, 17-year-old Alexander Salugin and 19-year-old Sergei Pravosud, will have to breach the defensive lines of the Champions League winners at Monaco's Louis II stadium. However, the army side is accustomed to working miracles. Russia is now expecting them to continue their exploits in Europe. There is good reason for that. Thirty years ago to the day, Dynamo Kiev, for the first and as yet only time, won this honorable trophy for Soviet soccer, beating Bayern Munich in the final, which was no weaker than present-day Liverpool.
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