Cold weather and artificial turf at the Luzhniki stadium seem to be more of a worry for Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho than opponent CSKA Moscow. They meet in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, and after his team trained in sub-zero temperatures Monday he expressed his mindset to reporters.
“Minus 10 [degrees Celsius] outside is not the same as a plus 15,” Mourinho told reporters in reference to the frigid conditions. “Then you must play on a plastic pitch, which is not easy, especially in cold weather.”
Two years ago, while coaching Inter Milan, Mourinho criticized the artificial playing surface, declaring that soccer was “much more beautiful when it is played on a natural grass.” He also said he will send out his strongest available team in the first leg, irrespective of conditions. Real Madrid hosts the second leg March 14 at Estadio Santiago Bernebeu. “I don’t think I will rest a player just because of the cold or the plastic pitch,” he said. “We have a strong squad, all players are of the same top level and I will make my selection based on the opposite team and not on the outside factors.”
The weather forecast is for temperatures of zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) at kickoff time.