Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Match Preview : Rubin Kazan vs. Chelsea

No one cared who I was, until I put on the mask.
Moscow. The word brings about memories, sad ones at that. The same ground where our Captain infamously slipped while taking a penalty, and slip did the Cup as well from our hands. Last May in Munich, it was all about that unfinished business, knotting together those broken ends of the rope of Chelsea and Roman's European dream, REDEMPTION.... Now, after successfully defying all odds in Munich, Chelsea have the opportunity to become the only club ever to hold both European trophies, the big-eared Champions League trophy as well as its younger, slightly uglier sister, the Europa League trophy.

Chelsea FC go to Moscow to play Rubin Kazan in the return leg of the Europa League tie where they already hold a pretty comfortable 3-1 advantage. Rubin have been barred from holding their home matches at their home stadium, and instead have been made to travel to Moscow to play their "home" game at the massive and impressive Luzhniki Stadium. While the stadium boasts of a capacity of roughly 80,000, it is expected to be less than half-filled.


Chelsea are coming off the back of a sluggish 2-1 win over Sunderland, whilst Rubin had a 0-0 draw against Kuban Krasnodar. Rubin boast of shackling Barcelona and Inter Milan impressively when they themselves were a lesser name in previous seasons, but those came in their home ground, rather than their "home" ground, you get it, right?

Rubin have lost thrice in their last 22  European home games, with all three of those losses coming in Moscow their "home" ground. In their actual home ground, they remain unbeaten in 18 European games, including win in the last five, conceding only once in that span.


For Chelsea, Ryan Bertrand is the most recent casualty of the mystery 'illness' catching up with most of the squad in the Rafalution period. Other absentees include Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill, Oriol Romeu and Demba Ba. The sudden crisis at the Left Back position could cause Rafa to throw Nathan Ake or Paulo Ferreira into the mix. I personally would prefer Ake to start at Center Back and Paulo at Left Back, resting David Luiz for the crucial FA Cup semifinal game vs. Manchester City.

For Rubin, dangerman and Europa League hitman, former Chelsea-target Salomon Rondon is expected to start after starting on the bench in the first leg, only to come on as a second half substitute. Perennial bad-boy Yann M'Vila is unexpected to make his Kazan debut, missing out due to injury.

The newly reborn masked marauder, destroyer of opposition defences, avenger, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, whatever on Earth Fernando "Zorres" Torres should lead the Chelsea attack with the diminutive magician Juan Mata, Yossi Benayoun and his faith restores Moses expected to comprise the band of three behind Zorres.


Day and Date : Thursday, April 11, 2013
Time : 17:00 GMT / 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 a.m. PT / 21.00 IST
TV Details : Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer 2Go, ESPN Deportes (US), ESPN UK / HD, ITV 4 (UK), Ten Action (IND)


RUBIN KAZAN: Sergei RyzhikovOleg Kuzmin, Roman Sharanov, Ivan Marcano, Cesar Navas; Pablo OrbaizBibras NatchoGokdenizKaradeniz, Roman Eremenko, Alan Kasaev; Jose Salomon Rondon

CHELSEA: Petr CechBranislav Ivanovic, Nathan Ake/David Luiz, John Terry, Paulo Ferreira/Nathan Ake; John Mikel Obi, Ramires; Yossi Benayoun, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard; Fernando Torres

REFEREE: Fırat Aydınus (Turkey)

While the team is expected to park the bus, shore up the defence and midfield and retain the comfortable two goal cushion, easier said than done. I believe I wouldn't go too wrong hoping for a Chelsea win at Roman's den.

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