Our third group game of the campaign is away to last seasons Russian League runners up Spartak Moscow. The game takes place in the Luzhniki Stadium, the scene for the agonising 2008 Champions League Final defeat, due to the Russian weather the game will take place at 17:30 English time.
The pitch we’re playing on is artificial and as usual in the Champs League, yesterday we trained on the pitch to get a feel for not just the surface but also for the cold weather that will ensue. The pitch will take some getting used to so it may be a slow start from us. The sun has been out today and yesterday so hopefully the weather won’t be too bad later.
With both teams beating the other two in the group so far it demonstrates the toughness that this game will bring, a win today and against them again at the start of November will guarantee qualification to the knockout stages.
The weekends draw with Aston Villa wasn’t shambolic and gave us a chance to get used to Lampard and Drogba being absent together. Alex and Bosingwa also haven’t made the trip to Russia for the match.
Spartak Moscow’s warm up was ideal for them, a 3-0 win at home on Friday means they have had extra rest. They are a point ahead of third placed Zenit St Petersburg and eight points off the lead (According to Russia Today, TOCFCWS claims they are 17 points off the top), after 30 games played. Spartak’s Welliton is the Russian League’s top scorer with 21 goals. Their captain, Alex, is out of the match, one of their fans said Sergei Parshivlyuk will be their captain tonight.
Spartak won the inaugural Russian League in 1992 and from then up until 2001 they won the Russian title every year except one. Since then they have failed to regain the Russian League. The Russian League replaced the Soviet Championships.
Of the 3,000 allocation we were given, around 2,000 of them have been sold, it seems a lot of which are to the Moscow Chelsea Supporters Club. Walking about there last couple of days there doesn’t seem to be many Chelsea around, but with Spartak being one of five Moscow based teams in the League the chances of hostility around Moscow actually aren’t that high. Last night there were fans of other Russian teams telling me they wanted Chelsea to win 5-0 and would love to be in our end.
There’s supposedly going to be two police checks on the way to the ground and security is always very tight for football matches over here, hopefully there is a lively atmosphere in the stadium. Tickets are only £11.50, over here if you get all three group matches it costs just £15!
There’s limited taxi drivers here so normally you just flag down a random persons car and they will use it to earn a bit of money on the side. They aren’t the most reasonable of people though, we got charged an extra 100 roubles before because our driver didn’t actually know where it was we wanted to go and got us slightly lost.
Having seen Moscow two years ago I was pleased my mate who lives here has local knowledge, the highlight of the trip so far was far and away the circus. He swung it to me when he told me last time he went there was a woman with 20 dancing cats and they got some monkeys to re-inact a Jewish wedding. This time around they’d changed the schedule and sadly neither were in attendance, there was however a bear that pedalled a pushbike around in circles unassisted. Easily one of the funniest things I have ever seen.