Liverpool vs Rubin Kazan: Who are the Reds' opponents?

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Liverpool host Rubin Kazan on Thursday night in their third fixture of this season's Europa League.

Group B is wide open, with the Reds having drawn their opening two matches of the competition away at Bordeaux and at Anfield versus FC Sion.

The visitors sit at the bottom of the group with just a single point and will be desperate for a first win.


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Who Are Rubin Kazan?

Kazan is the eighth most populous city in Russia, with over one million people living there, and is 800 km from Moscow.

The football team was established in 1958 and they've quickly risen up the Russian football ladder.

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FC Rubin Kazan gained promotion to the Russian Premier League in 2003 and have remained in the top flight ever since.

Domestic History

Since establishing themselves as regulars in the highest division, it wasn't long before Rubin Kazan added silverware to their trophy cabinet.

Despite being in the top flight for just five years, they surprisingly won the Russian title in 2008 under the stewardship of Kurban Berdeyev and successfully defended their crown a year later.

They too captured the Russian Cup in 2012. Tatary saw off Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Rostov en route to the final where they met Dynamo Moscow.

It was a close encounter, but Roman Eremenko's 78th-minute goal gave Rubin Kazan their first domestic cup victory.

European History

Their league titles ensured they competed in the Champions League during the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons.

For their maiden campaign in Europe's elite club competition, Kazan didn't have the kindest of draws and faced Barcelona, Inter Milan and Dynamo Kiev in Group F.

The Russian side performed more than admirably in their first Champions League effort.

If holding Barcelona and Inter Milan to home draws wasn't enough, Kazan produced one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history when they travelled to the former.

Kazan had the daunting prospect of keeping the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andrea Iniesta at bay in front of a jam-packed Nou Camp. The visitors surprisingly took the lead after just two minutes with a thunderbolt from Aleksandr Ryazantsev and held the advantage going into the break.

Things appeared to be back to normal when Zlatan Ibrahimovic levelled things up shortly after half-time.

However, Kazan never gave up and Gökdeniz Karadeniz beat Victor Valdes with 17 minutes remaining to wrap up a memorable win.

Kazan were relegated into the Europa League after finishing third in Group F. They saw off Hapoel Tel Aviv with ease in the last 32 before losing to Wolfsburg in the last 16 to end their first European campaign.

They were drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League the following season; they could not beat the Spanish giants but once again held Pep Guardiola's men to a draw in Russia.

The furthest Kazan have got in the Europe is the quarter-finals of the Europa League in the 2012/13 campaign. They went unbeaten in Group H, racking up 14 points and finished ahead of Inter Milan.

With momentum behind them, Kazan dumped out holders Atletico Madrid in the last 32 and beat Levante in the following round.

They then met Chelsea in the quarters. Kazan secured a vital away goal in Chelsea's 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge in the first leg and made the return clash all to play for.

Volzhane gave it their all on home soil and almost shocked the London giants. They won 3-2 but the result was not enough to thwart Chelsea, who went on to win the competition.

Fixture History

Liverpool have never met Kazan, but there is a first time for everything.

The Reds' Russian opponents have travelled to England previously; however, they've never won on British shores.

As well as their loss to Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur beat Kazan 1-0 in 2011 and Wigan Athletic held them to a 1-1 draw in 2013.

League Form

It seems a long time ago since Kazan were coming out on top over the likes of heavyweights Zenit St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow.

After 12 matches, they sit 12th out of 16 in the Russian Premier League this term and have lost eight games, winning just three.

Kazan are just three points off bottom spot and have a goal difference of -7.

Star Player

Although Liverpool fans will not be too familiar with most of Kazan's players, they will have heard of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

The Russia international signed for Everton for £10 million in 2009 and was tipped for success. He didn't quite live up to his price tag and made just 59 appearances for the Toffees over three years.

Bilyaletdinov started the 2009 Merseyside derby at Goodison Park and missed two glorious chances either side of half-time.

One to look out for is Carlos Eduardo Marques. He's an attacking midfielder who helped Hoffenheim achieve their Bundesliga status in 2008 and has been capped six times for Brazil.

Kazan spent €20m to acquire the services of Marques in 2010. Although he hasn't achieved what was expected of him, he can make things happen if at his best.

Could Rubin Kazan spoil Jurgen Klopp's first home game in charge of Liverpool? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Premier League
Steven Gerrard
Europa League

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