Rubin calm ahead of Champions League debut
Eight more games to be played in UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. In one of them Russia's Premier League holders, Rubin, make their debut in the tournament.
The Kazan side are in Kiev, preparing for what’s sure to be a tough clash with Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev.
Rubin are 6 points ahead at the top of the Russian league and head into the game on the back of a scintillating 5-1 win against Saturn on the weekend.
Dynamo are coached by former CSKA Moscow manger Valery Gazzaev, who will have ex-AC Milan star Andrey Shevchenko available up front.
Rubin, meanwhile, have to make do without suspended midfielder Macbeth Sibaya. The Kazan team seriously lack international experience having played just 6 games in UEFA cup and managing to progress ahead of their opponents just once, but coach Kurban Berdyev said he is confident of his players’ abilities at the pre-match press conference, while confirming that it is this year's group of death.
"All our fans and players are happy to get this chance. To take a part in such a powerful group, and to play with such famous teams, it is very interesting. Our guys are really looking forward to playing tomorrow. Its true that we have no experience in the Champion League. But anyway, I think they are ready."
Opposition doesn’t come much tougher than Italian champions, Inter, and reigning European champions, Barcelona – certainly the game of the week. Barca boss, Pep Guardiola, stressed that his team has got a very tough group, consisting of champions.
Guardiola’s team will enter the tie buoyed by the news that Lionel Messi is ready to put pen to paper on a new 7-year contract at the Nou Camp.
Summer transfers add to the intrigue. Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to play at Milan’s San Siro stadium, less than two months after leaving Inter for Champions League winners Barcelona.
The Swedish star-striker was swapped with Barca striker Samuel Eto'o, with Inter getting an additional € 66 million.
But Inter boss, Jose Mourinho, said it’s Barcelona, not Ibrahimovich, he’s going to play against.
Elsewhere on the night, Liverpool open their campaign against group E underdogs, Deb-ret-sen, with the Hungarians champions making their debut on European football's highest stage.
Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard will be joined in the middle of the park by Javier Mascherano after the Argentine was declared fit by manager Rafael Benetiz.
Although being handed the favorites tag in their group, the reds won’t be underestimating their first task. Deb-ret-sen won five of their six qualifying matches to make it to the group stages and have been crowned champions, four out of the past five seasons in Hungary.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are away to Belgium's Standard Liege. Theo Walcott, Denilson and Robin van Persie have all been rested for the trip, while Russian international Andrey Arshavin remains out with a groin injury.
The hosts, meanwhile, will also be missing a key man – captain Steven Defour – who's out for up to three months following surgery on a broken foot.
Elsewhere, Scotland’s Rangers face a tough night in Stuttgart, while their group mates, Sevilla, host Romanian champions, Unirea.
Lyon and Fiorentina meet in group E and Olympiakos – AZ Alkmaar match round out the fixtures.