AS Roma return to the Champions League after a gap of three years on Wednesday as they host CSKA Moscow at the Stadio Olimpico in a Group E encounter.
Rudi Garcia's side, which finished second in the Serie A last season, started this year's domestic campaign positively as well, winning their first two league matches. The Giallorossi lost key man Mehdi Benatia to Bayern Munich this summer but strengthened overall bringing in the likes of Juan Iturbe (Verona), Kostas Manolas (Olympiakos), Ashley Cole (Chelsea) and Seydou Keita (Valencia).
Captain Francesco Totti is preparing for his 50th appearance in the Champions League but Garcia is not complacent, in a group which also involves Bayern Munich and Manchester City, especially with Roma not having played in Europe's elite club competition since the 2010-11 season.
"CSKA have played seven matches already this season, we have only played two. At the moment they are the strongest team in Group E. There aren't weaker teams at this level. CSKA have a much better pedigree in UEFA competitions than us, because they play in a group stage every year. They have talented, fast players and an excellent defence," the French tactician pointed out.
"I know that my players are 100% ready and they will do everything they can to win - I trust them. I faced CSKA when I was Lille coach, they still have the same coach and some of the same players, but I have another team, AS Roma, with different players - this will be different."
CSKA, on the other hand, also had a great start to their domestic season - their best in over a decade - and are now second in the Russian Premier League, after seven matches. Leonid Slutski's side have also lost an important player in midfielder Steven Zuber this summer but replaced him with the creative Roman Eremenko, who could be key tonight.
The Russian champions might have experienced a déjà vu when the group draws were made this time as they were drawn with Bayern and City last season as well. CSKA lost all three away games in the group that time, and will be looking to do improve that record this year.
"Roma have an amazing attack, with players like Francesco Totti, Gervinho, Juan Manuel Iturbe and Miralem Pjanic. They can produce some magic at any moment and we will have to pay a lot of attention. CSKA are a team that are used to attacking, but against someone like Roma we have to defend first and foremost, then we will have to be able to try to counterattack," CSKA manager stressed.
"I don't think we are the favourites tomorrow, even if we have played so many times in UEFA competition in recent years. In any case, I am not signing up for a draw. I've already faced Rudi García when he was at LOSC Lille. I suppose he has the same approach but with much stronger players."
Roma: The Giallorossi have defender Leandro Castan and midfielder Kevin Strootman sidelined, while Daniele De Rossi will sit out due to a one-match ban.
CSKA: Slutski will be without suspended midfielders Alan Dzagoev and Pontus Wernbloom, while striker Vitinho is out with an ankle injury.
Roma: de Sanctis; Maicon, Manolas, Astori, Cole; Keita, Nainggolan, Pjanic; Gervinho, Totti, Iturbe
CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev; Fernandes, Ignashevich, Berezutski, Nababkin; Milanov, Natcho; Tosic, Eremenko, Musa; Doumbia
Where to Watch Live
The match is set for an 12.15 am IST (8.45 pm local time) start, and can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Catch the action in the UK on Sky Sports Red Button, with the option to live stream the match online HERE.
Viewers in the US can watch the game on ESPN3 Online-App, Watch ESPN and Fox Soccer Plus, with an option to live stream HERE. Audience in the Middle East and North Africa can catch the action via live streaming HERE.
Catch the match on NTV+ Sport and NTV Russia in Russia.