Bayer were the story of the weekend in Europe - down 1-0 in the 79th minute before substitute Joel Pohjanpalo went on to score a hat trick for a 3-1 victory over Hamburg. It was only his second appearance for Bayer and is a welcome addition in attack as Chicharito returns from injury. The latter played all 90 minutes and is expected to start against CSKA. The Moscow side are adjusting well domestically to the loss of top scorer Ahmed Musa to Leicester - midfielder Roman Eremenko and forward Lacina Traoré have combined for five goals in CSKA's first five matches. Bayer will expect to get out of the group - if not win it - and that should start with a victory over CSKA on Wednesday.
Bayer are a mainstay in the top four of the Bundesliga, but have not made a deep run into the Champions League since they were runners-up in 2002. While a return to those heights is too ambitious for this squad, they are still dangerous enough to be playing late into the spring. Led by a rejuvenated Chicharito, who scored five goals in six Champions League appearances last year, and backed by a defense who only allowed 40 goals in the Bundesliga last season, this is a squad with the ability to take down some giants.
Last season, CSKA brought the Russian Premier League back to Moscow, making it their third title in four years. They managed to do so on the back of only 51 goals, 11 of which came from their leading scorer, Ahmed Musa, who is now at Leicester City. In the Champions League, they finished bottom in a group that included Manchester United, Wolfsburg, and PSV Eindhoven, scoring five goals across six matches. While goals may be scarce, they’ll be solid defensively with Russia’s most-capped player Sergei Ignashevich, in central defense and Igor Akinfeev in goal.
The former Manchester United striker's career was revived upon his arrival at Bayer, where he scored 26 goals in his first season.
A lethal free kick specialist, just watch the highlight video above.