Chelsea v Rubin Kazan: Key battles

Ramires will need to watch Rubin's talented midfielder Bebras Natcho like a hawk at Stamford Bridge. Photo: PA

Chelsea take on Rubin Kazan tomorrow night at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final looking to build on their 1-0 victory in their FA Cup quarter-final replay against Manchester United.

Here we look at the some of the key confrontations in a match where Rubin may spring a surprise or two, having already caused an upset by knocking out holders Atletico Madrid in the last 32.


Considering Chelsea have rarely had a settled back four this season, with injuries to Gary Cahill and John Terry disrupting their first choice centre-back pairing, Cech has been in fine form. The Czech goalkeeper showed why he is still considered as one of the world's best with a stunning save to deny Javier Hernandez at the weekend, and he will have to be alert to keep Rondon at bay. The Venezuelan striker has taken time to adapt to the Russian Premier League following his £7.6million move from Spanish side Malaga last August, but a brace against Inter Milan and a goal against Levante in this competition demonstrate that he should not be taken lightly.


While all eyes will be on Chelsea's attacking quartet, it is this contest between the two box-to-box midfielders that may dictate which side controls the tie. Ramires has been one of his side's most consistent performers this season, scoring eight goals and providing six assists in all competitions from a deep-lying midfield role. His opposite number Natcho, an Israel international, is also a capable goalscorer having found the net eight times in 22 league matches.


Veteran full-back Kuzmin will face one of the trickiest opponents in world football when he comes up against Chelsea's midfield maestro. Mata has enjoyed a scintillating season to date and with Oscar, Eden Hazard, and either Demba Ba or Fernando Torres in support, the Rubin defence will have their work cut out if they are to keep a clean sheet.