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Levante ready for Rubin 'tactical challenge'

Published: Wednesday 13 March 2013, 19.00CET
Levante UD coach Juan Ignacio Martínez may be sending photos of Moscow to his wife, but he insists his side are concentrating solely on the task at hand versus FC Rubin Kazan.
by Aleksandr Ustinov
from Moscow
Levante ready for Rubin 'tactical challenge'
Juan Ignacio Martinez expects a tight game against Rubin ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 13 March 2013, 19.00CET

Levante ready for Rubin 'tactical challenge'

Levante UD coach Juan Ignacio Martínez may be sending photos of Moscow to his wife, but he insists his side are concentrating solely on the task at hand versus FC Rubin Kazan.

Goalless in the first leg, FC Rubin Kazan's UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie against Levante UD is sure to be decided by "fractions of a second" and "small details" according to the respective coaches.

Rubin returned to domestic action at the weekend with a 1-0 win against FC Zenit St Petersburg and will no doubt be striving for a similar outcome on Thursday, in their 50th game in UEFA competition. Levante, though, continue to defy the odds in their maiden European campaign. Not even the unfamiliar Moscow temperatures can detract from the Spanish Liga side's optimism.

"During the day I went out into the street in short sleeves, but during the game no one will be thinking about the cold," said Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martínez. "The players will have to run and I will try to give them some of my energy. I took a few photos of the weather and sent them to my wife.

"Rubin are an experienced team and they are also at home, so they are the favourites, but thanks to the 0-0 draw in the first leg our chances are still 50-50," added Martínez, whose side played out another stalemate with Getafe CF on Sunday. "If we score, then the task is much more complex for Rubin. Our opponents know how to defend, but we know how to create chances. The game will be a tactical challenge for both teams. It will be 90 minutes of great concentration."

While Martínez has concerns about the sore throat afflicting goalkeeper Keylor Navas – "due to the change in temperature" – he must also compensate for the absence of Obafemi Martins, who joined Seattle Sounders FC earlier in the week. Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev, meanwhile, is without midfielders Aleksandr Ryazantsev and Yann M'Vila.

"I think the game will be the same as in Spain – both teams have an equal chance," said Berdyev. "Levante have a strong team and I see no reason why Robert Acquafresca cannot replace Martins. They both have their pros and cons.

"In some ways Levante and Rubin play in a similar way, but there are many nuances that make them different. There are positives and negatives to both sides' systems and tomorrow's match will be decided by these things. A fraction of a second when making a decision could affect the outcome. Our task is to get to the next stage."

Last updated: 13/03/13 22.06CET

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