Blues On The Road To Russia

Picture: Shuji Kajiyama/AP Photo
Fernando Torres score a brace in the first leg. Picture: Shuji Kajiyama/AP Photo
Chelsea  heads to Russia for the second leg of its Europa League quarter-final tie against Rubin Kazan  on Friday morning (AEST) well placed to reach the final four after claiming a 3-1  victory at Stamford Bridge last week. Things won’t be easy in Moscow however, with the Blues losing three of their past four away games in Europe.

Rubin responded to their loss in London last week with a scoreless draw  against Kuban Krasno in the League on Sunday and will relish returning to Russia for this fixture, where they have won four times and lost just once from five European fixtures during the current campaign. Jose Rondon started on the bench in the first leg but is expected to start at the Stadion Luzhniki with his side needing to score two or more goals to advance to the semi-finals. He has been the club’s leading scorer in the competition this season with five goals.

With an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City looming less than 72 hours after this match, interim boss Rafael Benetiz is sure to rest some of Chelsea’s first team players, while he must also deal with injuries to other key members of his squad. With Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill, and Ryan Bertrand all sidelined by injury, Dutch teenager NathanAké may be forced to line up at left back. Fernando Torres is expected to continue up front with fellow striker Demba Ba cup tied.

Rubin Kazan has lost just three of the past 22 home games that it has played in Europe but crucially, each of those defeats came here, rather than in Kazan. Chelsea has struggled on the road in Europe this season however and three of their four defeats outside of England have been by at least two goals. Having bagged a crucial away goal in the opening leg, a 2-0  win for Rubin would be enough to see them progress to the last four on away goals.

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