Chelsea FC will make their long trip to Russia in order to face Rubin Kazan in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie tonight. Rafa Benitez’s men have already taken a huge step towards the semi-final with their 3-1 victory in the first leg, although they will be disappointed to have conceded an away goal in the first half of that fixture. However, a brace from Fernando Torres and another goal from Victor Moses have not given them enough breathing space for the second leg one would imagine.
Rubin Kazan have struggled with their form a bit recently. They won just one of their last four matches in all competitions; in fact they have struggled to score goals as well. Their 0-0 draw against Kuban Krasnodar means they have failed to score in two of their last four matches. They missed a golden opportunity of pulling away from the other Europa League qualification contenders as teams around them dropped points in the league. However, the Russian side are on three-match winning streak at home. They have recovered their home form in March after a miserable February, where they lost four matches on the row at the Tsentralnyi Stadion.
Chelsea, on the other hand did take advantage of Tottenham dropping points this weekend as they picked up all the three points against Sunderland in a close match. That was their third victory on the row and their fifth win in their last six matches in all competitions. However, worryingly for Chelsea, their away form hasn’t been good enough in recent times. Their last victory away from home came against Middlesbrough in the FA cup. The Blues have won just two of their last 10 away matches in all competitions!
Manager Kurban Berdyev doesn’t have any injury concerns ahead of this match, although he will certainly face some selection dilemmas. This weekend Berdyev made three changes to the team that he fielded against Chelsea. Rubin Kazan played with both Rondon and Dyadyun in the starting line-up against Kuban Krasnodar, which meant that they dropped Eremenko, who had a poor match against Chelsea. Berdyev also made changes to his defence which conceded three goals at Stamford Bridge. Kuzmin, who started as right winger against Chelsea, was pushed back to the right-back spot, while Kaleshin, who played as the right-back, was moved out to the left-back spot. Sharanov was replaced by Marcano at the center of the defence.
However, it is unlikely that Berdyev will persist with these changes in the second leg against Chelsea. Only two changes are expected to be made to the starting line-up that was fielded in the first leg. Rubin Kazan’s top scorer in the Europa league, Rondon, will come back to the starting line-up with Dyadyun starting from the bench, while Oleg Kuzmin will make way for Alan Kasaev.
Probable Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1) : Ryzhikov (GK); Kaleshin, Navas, Sharonov, Ansaldi; Orbaiz, Natcho; Karadeniz, Eremenko, Kasaev; Rondon
Rafa Benitez has had to deal with a congested schedule in the past few weeks, which means he has had rotate his players. In their last match against Sunderland, Ba, Hazard, Oscar, Mikel and Ivanovic were drafted back into the starting line-up. A lot of changes are once again expected to be made to the team take will take to the field against Rubin Kazan, with most of them being forced.
Benitez will have a problem to select his left-back for this match and while Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole remains injured, usual replacement Ryan Bertrand is ill (virus) and is unlikely to travel to Russia. This means 18-year-old Nathan Ake, club’s only remaining left-back could make his European debut in this match. Four more changes are expected to be made to the starting line-up with Fernando Torres making is way back into the starting line-up in place of Demba Ba, Lampard replacing Ramires in the midfield, John Terry will start alongside Ivanovic in defence, while Moses is expected to replace the over worked Juan Mata in attack.
Probable Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1) : Cech (GK); Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Ake; Mikel, Lampard; Moses, Oscar, Hazard; Torres.
Rubin Kazan 1 – 1 Chelsea
Rubin Kazan will come out all guns blazing in this match as they are in desperate need of goals and they will even manage to score one, but Chelsea will hit back and expect this match top end in a stalemate. The Blues will sit back as they will hardly need to stretch themselves in this match. In the end, they should qualify easily based on the result from the first leg.