Chelsea travel to Russia to take on Rubin Kazan with a two goal cushion from the first leg of this Europa League encounter.
Chelsea can take a step closer to becoming only the fourth side to win all three of UEFA’s major club competitions by cementing a place in the Europa League semi-finals when they travel to Rubin Kazan on Thursday.
Only Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich can count Champions League, Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup triumphs among their list of honours, but Chelsea are well positioned to add their name to that elite group as they head to Russia with a 3-1 advantage from the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
“We have established a good lead. We know that the second leg will be difficult away from home, so it was important to get the victory and score three goals,” said Brazilian midfielder Ramires.
“Obviously we want to qualify for the Champions League but we don’t want to forgo the trophies that we are chasing either,” added the 26-year-old, sounding a slightly different tone to teammate John Mikel Obi after the Nigerian revealed his indifference towards Europe’s second-tier competition.
“No disrespect to the Europa League … but when you get that buzz, and you hear the Champions League song, it’s different.
“It has been kind of frustrating to watch (Champions League matches) – and we have to then play on Thursday night,” Mikel admitted.
History overwhelmingly favours Rafa Benitez’s side with the Blues having won all five previous encounters against Russian opposition and Rubin, despite an 18-game European unbeaten run in Kazan, far less dominant in Moscow, the venue for Thursday’s return leg, having lost three of their past four matches at the Luzhniki Stadium.