Chelsea travel to Russia on Thursday to take on Rubin Kazan in the second leg of the quarter finals of the Europa League. The Blues are favourites to make it to the semis, having already notched up a 3-1 win over Rubin in the first leg at Stamford Bridge last week.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-Off is set for 5pm BST. Live coverage of the match will be available on ESPN and ESPN HD.
Rubin Kazan are the dark horses of this tournament, having eliminated defending Champions Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, but have seemingly left themselves with a lot to do coming into this fixture. The Russians have to overturn a two-goal deficit and restrict Chelsea at the other end, which will prove to be a daunting task against the European Champions.
Their league form has not been great off late either, with the club currently fourth in the league, 16 points behind leaders CSKA Moscow. Their last game ended in a 0-0 draw against sixth placed Kuban' Krasnodar, which will do little to boost their confidence ahead of the fixture.
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez is fuming at the pile-up of fixtures that is threatening to blow their season apart, with the Blues currently active in three competitions, namely the FA Cup, the Europa Cup and the Premier League. The Blues have to travel to Wembley to take on Manchester City in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday, only a couple of days after their Europa League game against Rubin in the freezing temperatures of Russia.
The Blues have played four games in nine days over the past week, something which has had an adverse effect on their league results. However, their FA Cup triumph over Manchester United will come as a major boost for Benitez's side who are currently struggling to keep pace for a place in the Champions League next season.
Chelsea are currently third in the league, level on points with Tottenham and only two points ahead of Arsenal. The Blues have Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham to play in the seven games left in the season and face a tough task setting their priorities right in such a vast saturation of fixtures.
Benitez can be forgiven for taking this fixture lightly, with the Blues cruising following their 3-1 win in the first leg. However, the West London club do have a problem with keeping their composure away from home in Europa, with their 1-0 loss to Steaua Bucharest in the round of 16 an apt example of the same profligacy when travelling. Chelsea are among three sides English sides currently active in Europe, with Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United being the other two.
Last Five(All competitions, Most Recent First):D L W D W
Last Result: Kuban 0 - 0 Rubin
Last Five(All competitions, Most Recent First): W W W L W
Last Result: Chelsea 2 - 1 Sunderland
The Russians have no major injuries to concern themselves with and are expected to field the same squad that started against Chelsea in the first leg. Moreover, star striker Salomon Rondon is expected to make a return after missing out in the last game.
Probable Line-Up: Ryzhikov; Kaleshin, Navas, Sharonov, Ansaldi ; Orbaiz, Natcho, ; Kasaev, Eremenko, Karadeniz ; Rondon
Chelsea have a major headache in left-back with Ashley Cole(hamstring) and Ryan Bertrand unavailable owing to illness. Nathan Ake is expected to come in from the reserves to deputize in their absence. Gary Cahill is yet to return to full fitness, having had a minor arthroscopic surgery for his knee. Demba Ba is cup tied with Newcastle with Fernando Torres keeping his place in the squad.
Probable Line-Up: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Ake; Lampard, Mikel; Moses, Oscar, Hazard; Torres