AS Roma vs CSKA Moscow preview - Totti excited by CL challenge

Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2014 by PA

Roma captain Francesco Totti is relishing the chance to once again play in the Champions League.

The 37-year-old will make his 50th appearance in the competition on Wednesday at home against CSKA Moscow in Group E.

However, it will be the first time that Totti and Roma have played in Europe's elite club tournament since the 2010-11 campaign.

"To return to the Champions League is gratifying for me and for Roma as a team," Totti said in Wednesday's press conference. "I feel fortunate.

"I am happy with what I've done so far in my career and I hope I can give a lot more with this jersey.

"Time goes by but fortunately I don't feel it.

"I will be the first to step aside when I no longer have the strength to play."

Roma finished runners-up to Juventus in Serie A last season and have enjoyed a strong start to the domestic campaign.

The Giallorossi beat Fiorentina 2-0 in their league opener before winning 1-0 at Empoli on Saturday, courtesy of an own goal from goalkeeper Luigi Sepe.

With Bayern Munich and Manchester City also in Roma's group, coach Rudi Garcia says every point is vital in a bid to reach the next stage.

"Every game counts," Garcia said. "The fact that we start and finish the group at home is important.

"I expect a packed Stadio Olimpico.

"We not only need our fans to support us but also to be there to annoy our opponents.

"We must be confident, we must win tomorrow."

Roma have reason to be optimistic for they have won five times and lost just once against Russian opposition.

Moreover, Leonid Slutski's CSKA lost all three away games in their group stage last season.

The Russians, however, travel to the Eternal City having enjoyed their best start to a campaign since 2002.

They lie second in the Russian Premier League, seven points behind league leaders FC Zenit after seven games played.

CSKA will have to do without suspended midfielders Pontus Wernbloom and Alan Dzagoev while Brazilian striker Vitinho is sidelined with an ankle injury.

Roman Eremenko, who scored the winner in Saturday's 2-1 triumph over FC Arsenal Tula, is confident his team can overcome those absences.

"Every player dreams of playing in the Champions League," the Finnish international midfielder said to "We will recovery and show our good form on Wednesday."

The hosts are without injured pair Leandro Castan and Kevin Strootman, while key midfielder Daniele De Rossi must serve a one-match ban.

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