Euroleague - CSKA MoscowWinning a Euroleague title is extremely difficult but retaining the trophy is even harder. However, this will be the aim of CSKA Moscow and many people believe that the Russian side will be able to finish the job in style in Istanbul this weekend. Knowing that they stand just two games from glory and being regarded as one of the finest eras in the Russian side’s history, CSKA Moscow have the players that can stamp their quality on the Euroleague Final Four.

The CSKA Moscow record for the 2016/17 Euroleague season, so far, is as follows:

  • Regular Season: 22-8
  • Playoffs: 3-0
  • Overall: 25-8

With a 14th appearance in the Final Four in the past 15 years, it is fair to say that CSKA Moscow are perennial challengers in the Euroleague. This is a level of consistency that should be admired throughout the sporting world and even though players and coaches change, it seems as though the Russian side has the ability to get to where it needs to be. This year could be special though and if the Russians clinch back to back Euroleague titles for the first time, it will be one of the greatest nights in CSKA Moscow’s history.

The Moscow team has won seven Euroleague titles before and they will be desperate to add an eighth this season. There is also an added incentive of heartache in Istanbul to avenge. Back in the 2012 Final Four, CSKA Moscow let a strong lead slip, allowing Olympiacos to take the crown. With Olympiacos the rival that CSKA Moscow have to face in the Semi Final of the 2016/17 Euroleague Final Four, you can bet that CSKA Moscow fans will be keen to make amends.

CSKA Moscow had a stunning start in Euroleague this season

CSKA Moscow got off to a flying start in the regular season and it looked as though the reigning champions were going to run away with the campaign. 12 wins out of the opening 13 games of the season is a startling record for most teams and it put the Russians on easy street for the rest of the campaign. Being far in front, and a cert for progress to the playoff carries its own problems and the Russian side also dealt with a number of injuries throughout the campaign but the roaring start the holders got off to ensured they were always bound for the Playoffs.

While the second half of the season wasn’t as thrilling or as consistent as the opening third of the season, anyone suggesting that CSKA Moscow are off the boil may have been reconsidering their thoughts after the Playoffs. A 3-0 clean sweep showed that the Russians are still a fantastic team and the side has given itself plenty of preparation time to plan ahead for their assault on Istanbul.

A huge part of the CSKA success story from last season is still in place this year and you can guarantee that if the Russian team is on form, Nando De Colo and Milos Teodosic will be playing their part. De Colo was the MVP in last year’s Euroleague Final Four and for the full season; and he was the key player for the Russians in the average performance index rating this season. Of course, De Colo is part of a dynamic duo in Moscow, with Teodosic being the league leader, by a considerable margin, with respect to assists.

You don’t want to say that CSKA Moscow are a two player team, this is clearly not the case but when these two players are on top form, you can be confident that the Russian side will stand a great chance of triumphing. It is one thing for opponents to say that stopping De Colo and Teodosic will give them a greater chance of winning but it is an entirely different thing to do on the basketball court.

While the two star players were in good form during the Playoffs against Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz, other players also chipped in with support. In Game 2, a match that was going down to the wire, Kyle Hines was the match-winner with free throws in the last second to clinch an 84-82 win. Game 3 was played out in Spain and Cory Higgins offered up 21 points in the victory with Kyle Hines ensuring the 88-90 win with a stunning block on the buzzer. The strength of the squad was a big factor in CSKA Moscow triumphing last season and it is a likely factor in why the team should go far this season in the Euroleague Final Four.

Russian hopes are high for the Final Four

Euroleague Final Four Istanbul 2017The Euroleague champions got their season underway in Istanbul, defeating Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul by a score of 84-109; in a match which set a new CSKA Moscow club record for the number of points scored. There was a three-game losing streak at one point in the season, when Teodosic was injured, and this run included the side’s only home defeat of the campaign, losing to Fenerbahce Istanbul. This is something that may become relevant in the final and of course, these are the two sides that met in the Championship game of last season’s Euroleague.

That losing streak wasn’t enough to derail the CSKA Moscow charge to the Playoffs and the Russians won four games in a row to secure their Playoffs spot with five games of the regular season to go. At this point, the Russians are looking good to make the Final once again but it will be a huge challenge to retain their trophy.

CSKA Moscow are seen as second favourites for many bookmakers

Even though they are the reigning champions, it is interesting to note that the bookmakers don’t currently tip CSKA Moscow as the favourites. The fact that Fenerbahce are playing in their home city appears to be a big factor in how the bookmakers think it will pan out and Bet365 have CKSA Moscow listed as second favourites at odds of 3.00. This isn’t bad odds when you think of the firepower that the Russians have at their disposal and the fact that their squad knows exactly what has to be done to win a major European basketball tournament.

This is a tournament that will see a lot of pressure and expectation placed on the Russian side but CSKA Moscow will be confident that they have the players who can finish the task at hand. With the chance to be consecutive Euroleague winners, the Moscow team is a good bet for the weekend’s action.