Rubin Kazan vs. Chelsea, Europa League: Team News & Preview

ZORRES moves in for the kill - Ian Walton

Advantage Chelsea. Can they see this off with a minimum of effort and book their place in the semifinals? The world is watching with bated breath, said no one ever.

You know how sometimes you'll go see a movie in the theater (or the cinema, with your pinky held out, if you're in the UK) and all the best jokes, not to mention plot points, have been ruined by the trailer? That's kind of how I feel about this preview. I used all my best jokes in last week's! TV Tropes calls this "Trailer Joke Decay," which would then make this article an entry under "Preview Usefulness Decay" in the Sports Blog Tropes wiki. Which is unfortunate, because they're hardly useful to begin with.

Then again, as we've learned from Fernando Torres, there's always a new floor to be found. And a new floor and then another new floor, all the way down to basement level Absolute Europa League Zero where the Bloody-Nosed Gremlins live. And there, in the fires of Mount Szukala, amid the cackling of fat waiter choruses is where the swashbuckling Zorreses live.

Full of vim and vigor, the wild Zorres is a strange beast. Sightings are rare, captures even rarer. No two are alike and they do not travel in packs (a flock of Zorreses is of course known as an implausibility). It is said that the only way to tame one is to put a mask on it. This phenomenon was documented by the Great Warrior Poet-Scholar Beyoncé in her hit single "If you like it, you should put a mask on it." Wuh-woh-oh, bad jokes incoming!

Date/Time: Thursday, April 11, 17:00 BST; 12:00 P.M. EST; 9:30 P.M. IST

Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

TV Information: ESPN (UK); Fox Soccer (USA); TEN Action (India)

Online: FoxSoccer2Go

Fernando Torres walks into a bar and says "I'll have two shots, barkeep!" The bartender, seeing who he's dealing with, smiles and says "That's not like you, is it?" AND THEN A WILD ZORRES CLEAVES THE JOKESTER IN HALF BECAUSE JHON PIREZ! [h/t: Novpratama, for one of the best jokes I've read in some time.]

Rubin Kazan: Ostensibly the home team in this second leg, yet as evidenced by the roughly 1900 people who witnessed their last Europa League "home" match in Moscow (Luzhniki capacity: 78,000+), perhaps we should treat this as more of a neutral or perhaps even a closed-doors affair. With Chelsea rumored to be bringing about 2000 supporters, this could become quite surreal indeed.

The Reuben Boilers will need to boil plenty of Reubens this night to have any hope of Reubening their way into the semifinals. Sure to improve on their listless display on the Stamford Bridge tundra last week, I'd guess they're ready to boil them good and boil them often. This will no doubt involve more than just a sprinkling of Salomon Rondon, so that should be fun for the John Terrys of the world ... although perhaps not so mouthwatering for the rest of us.

While the Boilers failed to do any boiling over the weekend in the 0-0 draw with whatever a Kuban Krasnodar was, they have won their last three "home" matches, two of them by a scoreline of 2-0 even, which would suit them just fine in this one. For whatever reason, these three "home" matches took place in three different stadia. I can't say I care enough to figure out why.

Chelsea: Ostensibly the away team in this second leg, yet as evidenced by the roughly 1900 people who witnessed the last Europa League match in Moscow (Luzhniki capacity: 78,000+), perhaps we should treat this as more of a neutral or perhaps even a closed-doors affair. With Chelsea rumored to be bringing about 2000 supporters, this could become quite surreal indeed.

The Implausilibity of Zorreses will need to Zorres plenty of implausibilities this night to have any hope of Zorresing their way into the semifinals. Sure to mitigate their efficient display on the Stamford Bridge tundra last week, I'd guess they're ready to Zorres Torres them good and Zorres Torres them often. This will no doubt involve more than just a sprinkling of Fernando Torres, so that should be fun for the Sergei Ryzhikovs of the world ... although perhaps not so mouthwatering for the rest of us.

While the Zorreses failed to create any major implausibilities over the weekend in the 2-1 win over whatever that sweater was, they have managed just two wins in their last ten away matches. Implausible, yet true.

You know the rest. Demba Ba is ineligible. Gary Cahill is out, recovering from minor surgery. Ashley Cole & Ryan Bertrand stayed behind to attend the annual convention of Chelsea left backs. Oriol Romeu is MC-ing said convention, in between weeklong bouts of existential meditation. Nathan Ake traveled with the team and could be looking at a start. Milan Lalkovic put on a Yossi Benayoun mask and is getting proper recognition.

You may now burn this preview.

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