As Chelsea return to the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, one cannot help the memories going back to the horrible Champions League 2008 final defeat against Manchester United. However, the stadium may actually provide some good memories for Chelsea, as we are in a position to qualify for the Europa League semi-finals. The 3-1 win from the first leg gives plenty of breathing space, but Rubin Kazan should not be taken lightly.
Further, the artificial pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium could pose problems for the team that has been looking weary in recent weeks. However, it did not pose troubles back in 2010 when we managed a 2-0 win over Spartak Moscow. Perhaps, it is one of the reasons for Chelsea being given a price of 1.52 by popular bookmakers like Unibet, while the latest sports news also suggests the same.
Fernando Torres has been looking in good form since scoring two goals against Rubin Kazan. Demba Ba is ineligible for the Europa League, which means that the Spaniard is almost certain to start. Benitez’ biggest problem will come in defence. Ryan Bertrand, who has deputised the injured Ashley Cole in recent matches, has not travelled due to a virus. This could mean a start for either the inexperienced Nathan Ake or Paulo Ferreira, who has played very little football in recent times.
“David Luiz has also played as a left full-back before so maybe he can be an option. We have a lot of respect for Rubin Kazan. We know they are a good team. You have to play on a synthetic pitch and adapt to that but it will be the same for everyone,” said Benitez to Chelsea’s official site.
Benitez is expected to continue rotating the squad, as he struggles to cope with the huge number of matches. Lampard and Moses can expect a recall to the starting line-up.
Rubin Kazan have no major injury worries.
Chelsea have a two-goal advantage on the aggregate score, and an early goal could just settle the tie in favour of the blues.
Mikel may have said a few days ago that Chelsea players are not really happy with playing in the Europa League, but when you get to this stage of the competition, you are in it to win.
Rubin Kazan vs Chelsea predicted line-up:
Rubin Kazan (4-2-3-1): Ryzhikov, Kaleshin, Navas, Sharonov, Ansaldi, Orbaiz, Natcho, Kasaev, Eremenko, Karadeniz, Rondon
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Ake, Lampard, Mikel, Moses, Oscar, Hazard, Torres
Kick-off: Luzhniki Stadium, Thursday, 11 Apr 2013, 17:00 GMT