Chelsea draw Rubin Kazan in Europa League quarters

Champions League holders Chelsea were drawn against Russian side Chelsea in the quarterfinals of the Europa League Friday.

The Russian side reached the stage for their first time Thursday with a 2-0 extra-time win over Levante in Moscow. Kurban Berdyev’s side have never faced Chelsea, who are owned by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich.

“Chelsea? Cool! The draw’s pitted us against one of the best teams, so it will be great to play them,” Rubin captain Roman Sharonov said.

“The games will not be easy and it will be a new challenge for Rubin. It’s always interesting to play against such opponents as Chelsea.”

Perhaps crucially, Rubin have the advantage of playing the second leg at home and travel to Stamford Bridge for the first leg April 4.

Rubin, who also dumped reigning Europa League champions Atletico Madrid out of the competition at the last-32 stage, said Friday they would ask UEFA for permission to move back to their home city of Kazan for the second leg.

Rubin had to play their first two Europa League matches of the year on Luzhniki stadium’s artificial pitch because of churned-up turf at the Central Stadium in the Tatarstan capital.

“We want to play at home in front of our fans. I understand all the weather conditions and other factors, but we represent Tatarstan, so we want to play in Kazan,” Sharonov said.

UEFA regulations however, give clubs the right to change arenas just once a season.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur, the only side of the eight quarterfinalists to have won the competition, taking the inaugural UEFA Cup in 1972, will face Basel, who knocked out Zenit St.Petersburg in the last round.

Spurs held on to eliminate Inter Milan in their last-16 tie 4-4 on aggregate Thursday.

In the other ties, Anzhi-slayers Newcastle play Portuguese giants Benfica and Lazio face Turkish side Fenerbahce. The first legs are to be played April 4, with the second legs a week later.

–IANS/RIA Novosti


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