Rubin Kazan are in the driving seat after winning 2-0 at Vicente Calderon, and the Russian side are too experienced to throw away such a good lead. Atletico Madrid arrive in Russia without a number of first team regulars, which is enough to suggest the Argentine coach doesn’t believe his side can make it to the next round.
Rubin continue to impress
Rubin Kazan may not be able to keep up with free-spending Anzhi and Zenit on domestic stage, but their style of football helps them record some amazing results in European competitions. The main reason why the Russian side rarely concede goals in Europe is their defensive organization and the system in which every player has a role in defending his own goal. You will never see Rubin go all out attack regardless of the results, but they rather pass the ball around patiently and wait for gaps in the opposition defence that they can exploit. This is why Kurban Berdyev’s team did not concede at Vicente Calderon despite playing the entire second half with ten men, so no wonder they are now on the verge of qualifying for the next round. Rubin will now be up against a much weaker side than in the first leg, which should make their job a whole lot easier.
Defender Roman Sharonov is suspended after being sent off in Madrid, but there are no other concerns for boss Kurban Berdyev.
Diego Simeone to blame for the 2-0 defeat
Atletico Madrid have been thoroughly impressive in most of their matches this season, but one under-par showing saw their chances of defending the Europa League title go up in smoke. Despite playing at full strength, los Colchoneros just couldn’t get past Rubin’s rock-solid defence, and they couldn’t even take advantage of an extra man on the pitch. Had the result remained 0-1, Atletico would have a decent chance of making it to the next stage, but Diego Simeone surprisingly instructed keeper Sergio Asenjo to make a journey to the opposition box in the dying moments of the match, which allowed Pablo Orbaiz to score the second goal for the Russian side. As a result, los Colchoneros now have a mountain to climb, although they appear to have already given up hope of making it to the next stage.
Diego Costa misses out through suspension, while Juanfran, Godin, Filipe Luis, Gabi, Tiago, Arda, Koke and Insua have all stayed in Madrid.
Rubin can be trusted to finish the job against what will be Atletico’s second string side, and everything suggests we will see another low-scoring game. The hosts will be happy to play it patiently and won’t be risking too much, whereas their opponents are going to be powerless to change anything with a number of star players missing out.
Top pick: Under 2.5 goals 1.80 (4/5) @ BetFred
Alternative pick 1: Draw at half-time 2.15 (23/20) @ Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 2: Rubin Draw no bet 2.00 (1/1) @ SkyBet
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