Kazan Continues To Baffle Barcelona

FC Rubin Kazan was the thorn in Barcelona’s side last season, beating them in both of their Champions League meetings. Even though Rubin lost its opener this season 0-1 to Kobenhavn, you sense that Barca may have been a bit nervous about this game. With a 5-1 win over Panathinaikos in their Matchday 1 fixture and a 3-1 victory over the weekend, Barcelona opted to bring Messi – despite his career-ending, crippling, foul-of-the-year injury. Messi didn’t start, and Barca Manager Pep Guardiola surely wished he had. In the 12th minute, Villa sent a lovely little through ball to Pedro Rodriguez, who was playing Messi’s position, but the Spaniard – one-on-one with the goalie inside the area – could hit the crossbar. Dani Alves took down a player in the 29th, and Rubin converted the PK (Valdes guessed right but couldn’t stop it) to put them ahead 1-0. Rubin returned the favor in the 59th, with Iniesta getting knocked down in the box. Villa sent in a weak PK but the keeper couldn’t stop it either, making it even at 1-1. Messi came on for Mascherano at the restart. But despite all that firepower, and more than 70 percent of the possession, the only goal Barca could muster was a PK. Rubin Kazan will gladly take the point, and continued their unbeaten streak against Barcelona.


Chelsea Back On Track
After a disappointing 0-1 lost to Spartak Moscow on Matchday 1, off an own goal, Olympique Marseille is lucky to face Chelsea at this trying moment for the London club. Drogba was still serving his bad behavior ban and Lampard was still recovering from surgery. Despite a 4-1 victory over Zilina in their opener, Chelsea was coming off back-to-back losses to Newcastle and Man City. Gael Kakuta, the 19 year-old French striker who caused Chelsea to get locked out of the both 2010 transfer windows, got the start up front with Anelka and Malouda. And Zhirkov (yes, it rhymes with jerkoff) joined Essien and Mikel in the midfield. In the 7th minute, Kakuta sent a crappy corner on the ground to Terry, who flicked it from the near edge of the goal area, somehow slipping the ball in between the near post and the man allegedly guarding it (a hopelessly embarrassed Benoît Cheyrou). Marseille enjoyed some possession, but Chelsea had the better chances. The ref made a poor handball decision in the 27th (the player’s arms were in a natural position, not extended), and Anelka cooly put in the PK to make it 2-0. The first 25-30 minutes of the second half was all Marseille, but – fortunately for Chelsea – they couldn’t figure out how to get a shot on goal. After that it seemed like both sides had accepted the outcome, a 2-0 finish in favor of Chelsea, placing them at the top of their group on goal differential.

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