Automatic UEFA Champions League group stage entrants for the past two seasons, FC Rubin Kazan feel better equipped than ever to make an impact despite having to take a more scenic route to the competition proper this time around.
Russian champions in 2008 and 2009, Rubin found themselves mixing it with the likes of FC Barcelona and FC Internazionale Milano upon their arrival in Europe's premier club competition. They fell short of qualification in 2009/10 and won only once in their section last year. After completing a 4-1 aggregate defeat of FC Dynamo Kyiv in the third qualifying round on Wednesday, Kurban Berdyev's side are just a successful play-off tie away from having the chance to make it third time lucky.
"I believe the team has gained more experience," said goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov. "We have learned that you play the same against any team and that you have to have total concentration and commitment during the full 90 minutes, plus added time.
"Perhaps in the Russian championship what we had is enough, but the Champions League does not allow for lapses in concentration. Off the pitch, I don't think anything changed. It is the way it has always been. You have to have a united team − all for one and one for all − and fulfil the tasks given by the coach."
To hear more from Ryzhikov ahead of Friday's play-off draw, watch the full interview.
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