Chelsea will resume their quest to become the first British side to win all three major European club competitions when they host Russian hopefuls Rubin Kazan in their Europa League quarter-final first-leg tie on Thursday.
Last season’s Champions League triumph left the west Londoners with just Europa League honours missing from the club’s trophy cabinet, having already lifted the now-defunct Cup Winners’Cup on two occasions — 1970/71 and 1997/98.
Despite a forgettable Premier League campaign, Rafael Benitez’s maligned tenure at Stamford Bridge still has the Blues in the hunt for both domestic and European silverware after Chelsea despatched rivals Manchester United on Monday to progress to the last four of the FA Cup.
Chelsea will likely be without defensive duo of Ashley Cole (hamstring) and Gary Cahill (knee) for both legs of the clash.
However goalkeeper Petr Cech, who helped preserve the Blues’ 1-0 victory over United, insists the defending European champions will enter the fixture in a positive frame of mind.
“It’s always important to beat big teams for the confidence. We are not having such a fantastic season in terms of the league, but (the win over United) shows we can still beat the top teams and it gives us confidence to play another game on Thursday,” he said.
In Rubin, Chelsea face a side that has already eliminated holders Atletico Madrid and one that is unbeaten in five European away games.
Benitez’s charges though boast an imposing home record on the continental stage with an 11-game unbeaten streak of their own. They also own a perfect record against Russian oppositon with four wins from as many matches.
We’ll see how it pawns out today.