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Champions League Group G

English teams avoid each other

The three English teams remaining in the Europa League have been kept apart in the quarter-final draw.

Last Updated: 15/03/13 at 14:48 Post Comment

The three English teams remaining in the Europa League were kept apart in the quarter-final draw.

And Chelsea's opponents, Rubin Kazan, insist they want to play at their home stadium instead of Moscow.

Rubin, in the Russian republic of Tatarstan, is the furthest east of any European club in the competition but the club played their last-16 home match against Levante at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium due to problems with the pitch.

A decision on where to play the Chelsea game on April 11 will be taken after a UEFA pitch inspection next week.

The game is expected to be in Moscow, which would mean a shorter journey - though still a significant one - for Rafael Benitez's team ahead of a possible FA Cup semi-final three days later.

The Blues have played 52 matches already this season, starting from the Community Shield, and have seven games lined up for April, including the Premier League visit of Tottenham that would have to be moved should they beat Manchester United in their cup replay.

A UEFA spokesman said: "There will be a pitch inspection next week in Kazan to decide where the match will take place."

But Rubin vice-president Kamil Iskhakov told www.sports.ru: "For the decisive second leg we will have at home, we definitely want it to be at the Central Stadium of Kazan.

"I am very happy with the draw - I am familiar with Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich from when I worked in the Far East and Abramovich was governor of Chukotka.

"We became friends from a shared loved of football and be at this stage of the Europa League against so eminent and powerful rival, which is owned by our countryman, is just fantastic."

In the other Europa League quarter-finals, Tottenham appeared to be handed the easiest draw after being paired with Swiss side Basle, while Newcastle will play Benfica from Portugal and Turkish side Fenerbahce will face Lazio of Italy.

Rubin Kazan will be tough opponents for Benitez's Chelsea team.

The Russian side have already knocked out two Spanish teams - holders Atletico Madrid in the round of 32 and Levante last night, winning 2-0 after extra time in .

Rubin were also unbeaten in a tough group that include Inter Milan, and are particularly strong defensively, having conceded only three goals in 10 European matches.

Spurs' opponents Basle scraped into the quarter-finals after Russian side Zenit St Petersburg missed a late penalty against the 10-Swiss side.

Newcastle's opponents Benfica came into the Europa League knock-out stages after finishing third in a Champions League group including Celtic and Barcelona, during which they achieved a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp.

Rubin's coach Kurban Berdyev told www.uefa.com: "Chelsea is probably the toughest opponent we could get. But it will act only as an extra motivation and will make this tie more attractive. We will try to give our best in the matches against a top English team and be at their level."

Murat Yakin, Basle's coach, insisted his Swiss side had "nothing to lose" against Andre Villas-Boas's Tottenham.

He said: "We are extremely excited about this draw. Tottenham Hotspur are a great team from a wonderful city. We have nothing to lose against them. We have earned the opportunity to play against teams like these. It's already a huge accomplishment to be in the last eight of the Europa League."

Benfica director Rui Costa said the Portuguese team would respect Newcastle.

He added: "I felt that all the teams wanted to avoid us and that is a sign of respect for what we have been doing and shows our credibility in European football. "Newcastle deserve all our respect but we trust in ourselves. We will give it our best to go through."

Europa League quarter-finals
Chelsea v Rubin Kazan
Tottenham v Basle
Fenerbahce v Lazio
Benfica v Newcastle


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