The Europa League campaign takes Chelsea to a third capital city in eastern Europe. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton discuss in detail the quarter-final decider…
Rubin Kazan have already knocked the Europa League winners out of this season's competition. Now they attempt to overturn a 1-3 deficit to ditch the Champions League holders out of Europe in this five o'clock kick off, UK time.
The Blues flew out to Moscow with an impressive 100% record from five games against Russian sides to extend. Understandably much is made of that immensely disappointing evening in tonight's stadium, the Luzhniki, back in 2008.
The Blues were the width of a post away from becoming London's first European Champions four years earlier than Munich 2012. A slip on the mud, another miss and the title was Manchester United's.
Yet we returned to the scene during the group stage of the same competition in 2010/11 and ran out impressive 2-0 winners. It should not be an arena of ghosts and fears to the Chelsea squad.
Coach Kurban Berdyev warmly thanked the 45 Rubin supporters in the corner of the Shed in the first leg. It is hard to get to London, he conceded, and a long journey from Tatarstan. He professed himself hopeful of more home support in Moscow, but there is a problem.
Rubin played their three group matches at their own Central'niy Stadion in Kazan but since the knockout stages arrived in February they have played in Moscow. In the Round of 32 match against Atlético Madrid at Spartak's home ground (pictured below) the crowd was 2,593. Each of their three defeats in 22 European home matches has come in this city.
The UEFA-approved Luzhniki is actually 500 miles away from Kazan - it's like Chelsea having a home game in Aberdeen. The Proclaimers may walk that far and back to fall at Rubin's door, but how many Tatar supporters will?
As there are suggestions 2,000-plus official Chelsea supporters club members from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan will make the trip to the capital, the Blues could feel almost equally at home.
Chelsea have a two-goal advantage going into this match. It would have been that much better but for a period where the Londoners lost focus, the visitors switched virtually to five in attack, and an away goal was conceded from a soft penalty. It must serve as a warning against complacency and the threat of happenstance.
As a result of playing our FA Cup game against Manchester United on Monday 1 April, Chelsea have played a match on every day of the week this season. It is the first time that has happened since 2002/03.
Nine Rubin players and four from Chelsea's squad are under threat of suspension from the semi-final first leg should they be booked tonight.
There could still be three English sides in tomorrow's semi-finals draw, though Newcastle and Tottenham have plenty of work to do reach that stage.
Spurs' hosts Basel have won their last four home games in this competition without conceding, while Benfica, who travel to St James' Park, have won at Bayer Leverkusen and Bordeaux in the knockout phase.
Crowd trouble involving Lazio fans means their game with Turkey's second-placed club Fenerbahçe will be played behind closed doors.
Tonight's four Europa League ties
Rubin Kazan v Chelsea (agg 1-3) 5pm
FC Basel v Tottenham (agg 2-2) 8.05pm
Lazio v Fenerbahçe (agg 0-2) 8.05pm
Newcastle v Benfica (agg 1-3) 8.05pm
If the score after 90 minutes is 3-1 to Rubin Kazan then extra time will be played and if necessary penalties. The away goals rule applies so any other score will result in the game ending after normal time.
Chelsea have won three of our last five penalty shoot-outs, the last being at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich. Rubin Kazan have never been involved in a shoot-out in UEFA competitions.
The draw for the Europa League semi-finals is tomorrow (Friday) starting at 11am UK time.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea have won all five previous games against Russian teams. Rubin Kazan's only previous encounter against an English team was against Tottenham in last season's Europa League. Each leg was won 1-0 by the home side.
Our only previous meeting with Rubin Kazan came in the first leg. Fernando Torres opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour, controlling David Luiz's stunning long pass in the area, then stumbling before prodding it home.
Just past the half-hour mark an extended period of pressure earned further reward for the Blues when Juan Mata recycled a loose ball on the edge of the six-yard box and Victor Moses volleyed powerfully into the top left of the goal.
Treatment for an injury to Vladimir Dyadyun before half-time seemed to allow tiredness to creep into Chelsea's minds and a Rubin move down the left was allowed to progress almost unimpeded until the ball struck John Terry on the upper arm.
It was arguably too close for him to evade but the referee awarded a penalty and cautioned the Chelsea skipper. Natcho sent Petr Cech the wrong way to present Rubin with hope their timidity scarcely deserved.
Chelsea still dominated a more even contest after the break but the Tatars' rearguard was shredded again when Mata flighted a beauty over for Torres to power-head into the net. The game finished 3-1 to the Blues.
Chelsea's biggest away win in Europe
Jeunesse Hautcharage 0-8 Chelsea - 15/09/1971 - UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round first leg
Rubin's biggest home win in Europe
Rubin Kazan 4-1 Shamrock Rovers - 30/11/2011 - Europa League group stage
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