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CSKA Moscow Vs. Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League 2012 Match Recap: Bittersweet Game Ends in Draw

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Real Madrid got a very disappointing 1-1 draw away from the Santiago Bernabéu in the first game of their Champions League's leg against CSKA Moscow. Given the huge value of away goals in the Champions League, Mourinho's team made a big step forward to qualify for the next round. However, considering CSKA's scored in the last play of the match, the final outcome could have been better.

Khedira and Pepe were arguably Real Madrid's best players on the pitch, which tells you something about the state of the game. Even so, they didn't travel to Moscow to get a fancy win. With the cold and the artificial grass, a 1-1 win is a score that should please most Real Madrid fans. Unfortunately, though, Benzema is probably going to miss some weeks due to injury.

Jose Mourinho decided to play all his intense, working weapons on the field with Coentrao, Khedira and Callejón replacing Marcelo, Granero and Kaka. While Coentrao and Callejón weren't at their best, Khedira stood up to become one of Real Madrid's best players on the pitch. Real Madrid's attacking players weren't brilliant either, especially Özil.

CSKA started the game by pressing Real Madrid's players, and with the bad weather and the grass, Madrid's players had a hard time getting used to the conditions. As a matter of fact, Karim Benzema got injured after his first shot of the game. It looked as if it was a muscle injury, so the French striker could be out of the team for a month (maybe even more). He was playing great lately, but Higuaín is also a good striker, and will be able to replace him.

The team wasn't getting in the rhythm, but Cristiano Ronaldo managed to score a very important away goal in the 28th minute after a CSKA's defender made a big mistake in trying to clear the danger from Coentrao's cross. The first half ended with the exact same result. Pepe, Ramos and Arbeloa were really great recovering most of CSKA's possessions to prevent Iker Casillas from working.

When the second half started, Pepe became a contender for Man of the Match. CSKA tried long passes and the Portuguese defender stopped and recovered everyone of them. He was also making the right choices with the ball and gave support to Arbeloa, Khedira and Alonso whenever they needed it.

CSKA's coach introduced Keisuke Honda, one of the most popular players, who's still recuperating from a major injury. The Japanese player tried to score on a free-kick, but Casillas sent the ball away from his goal. Mourinho decided to make a change as well, replacing Callejón for Kaka. CSKA was going to the attack more often, so Kaka could have been useful against tired defenders. Unfortunately, however, the Brazilian never had a real chance to show off his speed.

Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo came close to scoring, and Mourinho replaced Özil with Albiol in order to defend the set pieces. But in the 92nd minute, the Russian team was able to touch the ball inside the box three times with their heads before Wernbloom beat Casillas for the final 1-1 result.

It's a shame that CSKA managed to tie this game up off a set piece, but it's also true that a 1-1 result away from the Bernabéu in such a tough environment is a good ending to this first leg. CSKA Moscow should struggle to keep a clean sheet in Madrid's stadium, but that should be our defense's main target if the team is aiming for the Champions League title.

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