Battle weary Chelsea entertain Russian side Rubin Kazan in the quarter finals of the Europa League. Stamford Bridge should be still vibrating from the pulsating victory over the English Champions elect, Manchester United. What a goal, what a save, what a morale boost. However caution is the key word for Thursday night’s tie. Rubin Kazan are no pushovers!
The Russian team currently lie fourth in their domestic championship with 38 points from 22 games. They beat Locomotive Moscow two nil on Saturday. The Russians have faired well in this year’s Europa League and knocked out favourites and holders Athletico Madrid, remember them? Rubin won, impressively, 2-0 in Spain, although they were beaten 1-0 at home.
Rubin did not want to draw Chelsea. The current Champions of Europe are recognised as the competition’s strongest team. Rubin must also travel to London without midfielder M’Vila and striker Ryazantsev, both major players.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will play their 3rd game in six days. The treatment room is filling up with Ashley Cole joining Gary Cahill on the medium term absentee list. Benitez should once again rotate and I expect JT, Lampard and Torres to return for this one.
The Russian side are particularly strong on the break and usually control the midfield. Chelsea will need Ramires and Lampard to hold, whilst allowing Hazard, Moses, Mata and Torres to express themselves. The winner of that key mid field battle will win the game. Chelsea are stronger and should win this one. Do not expect an avalanche; a hard fought 2-0 is more likely.
Next up for the Blues is a headlining clash with our old nemesis, Paulo Di Canio. Let’s hope we hammer the first nail in to what will surely prove to be a fragile coffin.