It is a second quarter-final match at Stamford Bridge in four days. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready for Russian visitors…
Whenever Russian teams roll into Stamford Bridge older Chelsea supporters talk with reverence and delight about the famous first visit of a Soviet Union side, Dynamo Moscow, in November 1945.
That afternoon friendly, unofficially attended by 100,000 enthralled Londoners after entrance gates were broken, ended in a diplomatic 3-3 draw. The English players, however, were hugely impressed by the pace, movement and passing of the Muscovites.
The same assets have been noted in tonight's visitors from the banks of the River Volga. Their arrival on the continental stage following massive investment was heralded by a 2-1 Champions League win at Camp Nou in 2009. Last season they gave as good as they got against Spurs in the same competition before succumbing home and away to Olympiacos. This season they have already overrun Inter and holders Atlético and edged out Spain's Levante.
European champions Chelsea have a perfect record against Rubin's compatriots from the Russian Federation, CSKA and Spartak. Yet, unusually, this is the second midweek match in the Blues' schedule this week and only a brave person would predict the starting line-up bar one or two obvious inclusions.
This is the second time the Tatars have reached this stage of the competition. Next week's second leg will be played at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, 500 miles west of Tatarstan. Rubin's home pitch in Kazan was ruled unusable by UEFA last week.
Attendances at their games in the Russian capital have been tiny and distinctly unintimidating. With Chelsea likely to have as many if not more supporters in the arena Rubin will be keen to take a positive result into that deciding game.
Formed in 1958, they were promoted to Russia's top flight in 2003 and won their first championship five years later. The Tatars lay sixth in the Premier League going into the FIFA break, having drawn 0-0 at mid-table Terek Grozny.
A 2-0 victory over Lokomotiv on Saturday pushed them up to fourth behind CSKA,Zenit and Anzhi.
How impressed should we be by their wins in Europe this campaign? Atlético coach Diego Simeone has made no secret that the club's priority lies in the Primera rather than defence of its Europa League title.
Atléti had lost the first leg (pictured below) at home 0-2 to Rubin's 10 men (Roman Sharanov being sent off) and fielded a second string team in the second leg. Experienced players such as Juanfran, Godín, Filipe, Tiago, Koke, Gabi and Arda Turan stayed behind when they set off for Moscow, with youngsters making up the numbers. On-loan Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois was also rested.
It was a game of few chances in which the visitors dominated possession, Rubin aiming to capitalise whenever possible on the pace of Salomón Rondón. Falcao scored the only goal of the game with five minutes remaining. Again Rubin had a player sent off - towering central defender César Navas.
The Levante clash was a war of attrition with attacks foundering on strong defences. Rondón broke the deadlock after 190 minutes against the Primera's 10th-placed club. Levante were the better side in Valencia, but lacked efficiency and luck in front of goal. Rubin won 2-0 in extra time in Moscow with 1,800 people present.
Chelsea reached this round through a 3-1 win over Steaua Bucharest (3-2 on aggregate), an eventful evening for Fernando Torres who had his nose broken, netted the winner brilliantly, then missed a penalty.
While choosing his team tonight Rafael Benítez has to factor in Sunday's match at home to a relegation-haunted Sunderland side aiming to impress a new manager.
After Chelsea's 21st victory over Sir Alex Ferguson's team and by qualifying for the FA Cup semi-finals the squad remain on course to play 70 matches this season. Victory over Manchester United on Monday meant the Pensioners had knocked the same team out of both domestic cup competitions for only the fourth time since the League Cup started in the 1960s.
The others were Leeds United in 1969/70, Bolton Wanderers 1971/72 and Blackburn Rovers 2006/07.
So far over this momentous campaign Chelsea have scored 118 times in all competitions. That is already the third highest goals total in our history.
Most goals in a Chelsea season
142 in 2009/10
121 in 1964/65
118 in 2012/13
117 in 1960/61 and 2006/07
112 in 2011/12
110 in 2008/09
Tonight's four Europa League ties
Benfica v Newcastle 8.05pm
Chelsea v Rubin Kazan' 8.05pm
Fenerbahçe v Lazio 8.05pm
Tottenham v FC Basel 8.05pm
Click on the tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
This is our first ever meeting with Rubin Kazan and the Tatars' only previous encounter with an English team was with Tottenham in last season's Europa League, in which they won at home and lost away.
Chelsea have previously faced two Russian teams, CSKA and Spartak, both from Moscow.
When CSKA played on the Fulham Road in October 2004 the Blues were looking for a third straight win in the Champions League. The game came straight after defeat by Manchester City, it had been announced Romanian striker Adrian Mutu had tested positive for cocaine use and Chelsea were looking for good news on the pitch.
John Terry (pictured below) and Eidur Gudjohnsen (both with close-range headers) were the only goalscorers, although the Muscovites went close through Vagner Love. Petr Cech had to save smartly from the striker and also when the ball rebounded off Gudjohnsen from a CSKA corner. The 2-0 win virtually assured the Blues of qualification for the knockout phase.
Six years later Spartak Moscow played at the Bridge, again in the group stage. A goalless and lack-lustre first period gave little clue of the explosion to come after the break.
Chelsea's Russian left-back/winger Yury Zhirkov, in one of his best showings for the Londoners, helped inspire a 4-1 victory, although Didier Drogba's was the star turn. Nicolas Anelka opened the scoring from a narrow angle, fed by Salomon Kalou, and a foul on Drogba brought a free kick which the Ivorian himself converted.
Drogba turned provider soon after, swinging in a free kick for Branislav Ivanovic to head in for Chelsea's third. The Serbian defender hit a second in stoppage time, shortly after sub Nikita Bazhenov had scored a consolation.
Chelsea's biggest away win in Europe
Chelsea 13-0 Jeunesse Hautcharage - 29/09/1971
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round second leg
Rubin's biggest away win in Europe
Zalaegerszegi 0-3 Rubin Kazan 07/07/2007
Intertoto Cup second round first leg
Shamrock Rovers 0-3 Rubin Kazan15/09/2011
Europa League group stage
Chelsea lost at home in Europe: 729
Rubin lost away in Europe: 406
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,874
Liverpool won the league: 8,369
Visit again at lunchtime for part two of the Briefing.