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Rubin Kazan gears up for Europa League clash


The Europa League tournament is just a year old, having taken over from the UEFA Cup.

Rubin, Zenit, CSKA and Spartak are all hoping to become the first Russian team to carve their name on the trophy.

Russian domestic champions Zenit have what looks like the easiest draw on paper - Young Boys of Switzerland. Spartak face a tricky first leg, away clash against Basel. Their cross-town rivals CSKA will be in Greece taking on PA-OK.

And it'll be cold in Moscow for FC Twente as the Dutch side aim to put a dent in Rubin's title hopes - that kick-off moved earlier, and from Kazan, because of freezing conditions.

Rubin, one of four Russian teams in the Europa League last 32, are due to open their campaign with a home game against Dutchmen FC Twente. However, Thursday’s match is still in fact under question, and the ‘home’ reference is just a formality - after the clash was moved from Rubin’s native city of Kazan to Moscow, due to freezing weather.

The temperature in both cities has already fallen down to 20 below zero, making it impossible to play on natural grass. The match, if it does happen at all, will be played on the FIFA-approved artificial pitch available at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium. Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev admitted, though, they want the game to be played as scheduled, if doesn’t threaten the players’ health.

"The players’ health is the most important thing and if it goes down to minus 25 on Thursday, the game should be postponed," says Kurban Berdyev, Rubin's coach.

The Rubin - Twente clash is one of only two last 32 ties featuring teams eliminated from the Champions League group stages. And this will be their maiden head-to-head meeting. Rubin are unbeaten ‘at home’ in their last 10 European encounters, though Russian weather has massively reduced the home factor for the hosts. However, Rubin are hoping they’re still able to do better in freezing conditions, than their less accustomed rivals.
Kurban Berdyev added.

FC Twente, meanwhile, have found the going tough getting to this stage and they’ll be up for the challenges. After pipping Werder Bremen to a place in the Europa League, The Dutch champions are ready to fight at a new level. The team that arrived in Moscow, is missing key striker Marc Janko, but will be boosted by the return of winger Emir Bajrami, who’s back after a 3-month injury lay-off.


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