Wigan Athletic travel to the most easterly club remaining in the Europa League on Thursday to play Rubin Kazan. What are the chances of a good result for Latics?
Latics’ 1-1 draw with the Russian team ten days ago at the DW Stadium was well-earned and keeps them in with a more than even chance of qualifying from the group. Moreover it halted a nine game winning streak by Rubin in Europe.
Rubin are a formidable side at home in Kazan in European competition. They have not lost there for 22 matches, winning 13 and drawing 9. They have not conceded a goal in their last 7 European matches at their Centralniy Stadium.
For climatic reasons Rubin have had some of their previous European ties moved to Moscow, where they have understandably been less successful. However, this match will be played in Kazan, with a 9 pm kick-off (5 pm UK time).
Latics will count themselves fortunate in that they are going to arrive in Tatarstan a couple of weeks before the night temperatures drop below zero. The weather forecast for Kazan on Thursday indicates a daytime high of 11 °C, dropping down to 7°C at night.
Despite their formidable record in Europe, Rubin have only won one out of their last five matches in the Russian Premier League. Prior to coming to Wigan they lost 2-1 away at Volga Nizhny Novgorod. After drawing at the DW Stadium they lost 2-1 at home to second placed Lokomotiv Moscow, with ex-Tottenham player Roman Pavlyuchenko getting the Muscovites’ first goal.
Last Wednesday they made the 3,600 mile trip to Vladivostok, where they were knocked out of the domestic cup competition, losing 4-2 to the home side Luch. On Saturday they drew 0-0 at Rostov-Na-Donu. Rostov is on the Don River a mere 700 miles south west of Kazan. The result puts Rubin in 9th place, level on points with Rostov, but with a superior goal difference.
The timing of the match looks good for Wigan, despite the continued absence of key players through injury. When I wrote my initial posting about Rubin Kazan in early September they were unbeaten and in seventh place, within striking distance of the leaders Zenit St Petersburg. Since then Rubin’s league form has not been so impressive.
Although they are not scoring a lot of goals in the domestic league, Rubin are the most prolific scorers in the Europa League Group Stage with ten goals. Although Latics have scored only four up to this point other statistics for the two teams make interesting reading.
Both teams have committed 43 fouls in their three games so far, but Rubin have suffered 36 and Latics 49. Rubin have completed 829 out of 998 passes attempted, Latics 716 out of 852. Rubin have had 16 goal attempts on target, compared with 14 for Latics. The Russian team has had 7 yellow cards, Latics 5.
Although Rubin’s form in Europe has been impressive, poor results in the Russian Premier League indicate they are not playing at their best.
Wigan Athletic will be hoping that Rubin’s recent run of poor form will continue – at least for one more game.