Levante UD vs. Rubin Kazan
The Spanish side traveled to Russia on the back of what had been an okay game for them at Valencia in the Spanish Liga BBVA the previous weekend. This meant that Juan Ignacio’s side would still be confident as they prepared to face the team that eliminated defending champions, Atletico Madrid. Their good European record also allowed Levante to believe they had a good chance when they traveled to Kazan.
The Premier Liga side went into this match on the back of a not-so-significant loss to the defending champions, Atletico Madrid (although they won the match on aggregate), meaning that they would be confident as well. Kurban Berdyev was looking to prove that his side’s victory against the defending champions was not just lucky.
This match started on a balanced note, whereby the two teams shared possession and played the same kind of game. Inside 4 minutes, however, Ryzhikov had to make a save to prevent the home side from taking an early lead through Levante’s captain, Ballesteros. Obafemi Martins made another attempt a few minutes later, but the big Russian in the Rubin goal saved once again. Rubin’s first attempt came in the 15th minute when R. Eremenko had a chance but missed the target. The home side had a slight edge over their their opponents for most of the first half, although the Russian side had a few decent attempts for the first 45. Levante were stronger at half time, but the score sheet was still blank.
The second half started faster for the away side, who had an attempt just seconds after the referee had blown the whistle. Natcho, however, missed the target, to the relief of the home crowd. Things continued as they had ended in the first half as the home side regained control. Levante were given an even bigger advantage when Rubin’s Ansaldi picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Ballesteros and was sent off. It was now 11 against 10 with more than half an hour still to play. Juan Ignacio Martinez had to make changes and introduce some fresh legs at this point, but chose not to. Kurban Berdyev, instead, made the first change; Kaleshin on for Kasaev, to enforce the away defense a little bit more.
Rubin got their work reduced, as just 2 minutes after Ansaldi’s sending off, the numbers were made equal when Michel suffered the same fate when a bad foul on Karadeniz got the Spanish 24-year-old sent off. It was now 10 against 10 with still more than half an hour left to play. This continued as they had started, although the away side had woken up a little bit more. Levante’s first change came at 68 minutes when Rios came on for Diop. Rios almost proved to be a super-sub, but just missed the target. It started to look more and more like it would end in a goalless draw as the minutes started to end. Rondon almost got his side a significant away goal, but just hit the woodwork and the game ended, as expected, in a goalless draw. Levante’s unbeaten run in home games (in European competitions) had continued.
Statistic-wise, the home side had 12 attempts, while their visitors had 10. Both teams had equal chances, although the home side were more accurate in their attempts. Sergei Ryzhikov had to make 6 saves compared to his Costa Rican opponent, Keylor Navas, who only had to make only 2. Rubin Kazan hit the woodwork twice during this match. 7 players went into Antony Gautier’s book on the night; with the home side picking up 1 yellow and 1 red, and the away side 5 yellows and 1 red. 2 (1-a-side) players were sent off during this match; Rubin’s Ansaldi (2 yellow cards), and Levante’s Michel (straight red).
Juan Ignacio Martinez and Kurban Berdyev lined up the following squads:
Levante Starting XI
Navas, Navarro, Juanfran, Ballesteros (c), Lopez, Barkero, Iborra, Michel, Diop, Garcia, Martins
Subs: Munua, Rodas, Karabelas, Valdo, Acquafresca, Gomez, and Rios
Rubin Kazan Starting XI
Ryzhikov, Kuzmin, Ansaldi, Marcano, Sharonov (c), Kasaev, Orbaiz, Eremenko, Karadeniz, Natcho, Rondon
Subs: Arlauskis, Kislyak, Eremenko, Gokhan Tore, Dyadun, and Kaleshin
Final Score: Levante UD 0-0 Rubin Kazan
Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Newcastle United
Anzhi Makhachkala looked to keep their 100% record on Russian soil as they anticipated the Tynesiders’ arrival. They were pretty confident of a win (and why not?!), as they had beaten tougher opponents (going by this season’s form) in Hannover 96.
Newcastle United went into the match on the back of a loss at the Liberty Stadium in Wales the previous weekend in the English Premier League, but this wasn’t going to stop hold them back as they traveled to Moscow. They did, after all, have a much better European record than Anzhi overall! The most predicted result for this match was a draw, as both teams were equally strong.
This match started on a not-so-lively note, as most of the game happened in midfield. The first change of the game was made by Anzhi inside just 23 minutes when an injured Willian (ankle injury) made way for Lacina Traore. Not too many attempts were made in the first half by either team, but probably more noticed was a Samuel Eto’o chance nearing the end of the first half. Elliot was able to save this one to keep his side hoping.
The second half was definitely faster and more lively even on a cold night, as attempts from the home side kept coming in. Elliot, at this point, had to have a better defense in front of him, as the home side continued to threaten. Hatem Ben Arfa had a decent chance in the 64th minute, but Gabulov was there to save. Hatem Ben Arfa, moments from then, made way for Shola Ameobi; Alan Pardew now much more eager to get an away goal.
Anzhi tried a few things in front of goal, but none of their efforts paid off. They threw away a few chances as well, but it seemed Guus Hiddink would be comfortable with even a draw. Both sides made a few late changes, including an introduction of Carcela-Gonzalez into the Russian side, but nothing happened for either side as the game ended as had been predicted by the majority of neutral viewers that night.
Statistic-wise, the home side had a total of 9 attempts, compared to their visitors’ 4. The home side had overall more possession (53% against 47%), although the game was more or less balanced throughout the night. Only 1 yellow card was issued during this match, and it fell to the away side. No players were sent off during this match.
Guus Hiddink and Alan Pardew lined up the following squads:
Anzhi Starting XI
Gabulov, Joao Carlos, Zhirkov, Ewerton, Eschenko, Jucilei, Ahmedov, Diarra, Shatov, Eto’o (c), Willian
Subs: Pomazan, Tagirbekov, Gadzhibekov, Smolov, Traore, Carcela-Gonzalez, and Logashov
Newcastle Starting XI
Elliot, Simpson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Perch, Haidara, Anita, Sissoko, Marveaux, Obertan, Cabaye, Arfa
Subs: Alnwick, Santon, Bigirimana, Campbell, Ameobi, Tiote, and Taylor
Final Score: Anzhi Makhachkala 0-0 Newcastle United
Written by Ange Marline