15 September 2014 21:59
Roma coach Rudi Garcia is set to recall some attacking big guns for his team’s UEFA Champions League return against CSKA Moscow.
Francesco Totti, Juan Iturbe and Gervinho were all among the substitutes for Sunday’s 1-0 win at Empoli with one eye on the Russian champions’ visit to the Stadio Olimpico.
All three are poised to return, although there is not such a wealth of options in midfield for Garcia, where the suspended Daniele De Rossi joins long-term knee-injury victim Kevin Strootman on the sidelines.
However, Garcia knows the importance of getting off to a winning start in his first Champions League campaign as Roma boss.
“It’s a fantastic competition and I had the good fortune of playing in it with Lille,” he said. “So I know a bit about it.
“The players are also looking forward to playing in it again.
“How do I feel about our game against CSKA? It’s the first one, and we have to win it since it’s our first home match of the group.”
Roma complete an imposing Group E line-up for CSKA, who must once again tackle Bayern Munich and Manchester City outfits that beat them home and away last season.
Coach Leonid Slutsky must do without Pontus Wernbloom and Alan Dzagoev as the duo begin three-game bans, while fellow midfielder Rasmus Elm (stomach) and defender Georgi Schennikov (ankle) are yet to feature this term and remain sidelined.
Roman Eremenko has enjoyed a rich vein of goalscoring form since joining from Rubin Kazan, finding the target on both CSKA appearances to date either side of netting for Finland in his country’s 3-1 win over Faroe Islands this month.
Seydou Doumbia also scored on international duty, the Ivory Coast striker’s first goal since a month on the sidelines with a hip injury.
Doumbia’s return provides a timely boost for Slutsky – the 26-year-old struck in the opening two matches of this term having scored 20 times in all competitions last season, including a Champions League brace at Manchester City.
Vitinho endured a less profitable time while away with his national side, the Brazil Under-23 attacking midfielder sustaining an ankle injury against Oman that will keep him sidelined until November.