|Attempts on target||48||73|
|Attempts off target||0||0|
Like the wildlife in Tatarstan FC Rubin Kazan are only just emerging from winter hibernation, but Kurban Berdyev insists his Russian champions are "ready for the challenge" of facing their German counterparts VfL Wolfsburg in the UEFA Europa League round of 16.
The Russian season ended in November and Rubin have been restricted to three competitive fixtures in 2010: a 3-0 aggregate defeat of Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in the last 32 and Sunday's 1-0 Super Cup victory against PFC CSKA Moskva. Not, perhaps, ideal preparation ahead of their meeting with Wolfsburg. Yet Berdyev is not concerned, even if he does concede "we have still not reached our best form", adding: "The team is ready for the challenge."
The flip side to a lack of competitive football is that Berdyev has been able to focus on Wolfsburg. "They are a very high quality, well-organised team," he said. "They have top-class players in every area who can decide any game." He also had positive words for the German champions' interim boss Lorenz-Günther Köstner, who replaced Armin Veh at the end of January. "Since their new coach arrived, Wolfsburg have conceded fewer goals and changed their defensive outlook."
The hosts will be without the suspended Sergei Semak, while a combination of ankle and knee injuries have ruled out Petr Bystrov, Aleksandr Ryazantsev, Vitali Kaleshin and Roman Sharonov. Berdyev is hopeful midfielders Rafał Murawski and Gökdeniz Karadeniz will recover from their knocks. Wolfsburg are similarly stricken, with Grafite, Andrea Barzagli, Diego Benaglio, Jan Šimůnek and Karim Ziani unavailable, with Réver a doubt with a broken bone in his hand.
Temperatures dipping to -10C are unlikely to favour a side lying tenth in the Bundesliga either. "The pitch will make playing a technical game very difficult," said Köstner, whose side claimed a fourth successive win on Saturday, beating VfL Bochum 1848 4-1. "Kazan have some good players, but we have to give our all for a good result; then at home – hopefully with milder temperatures – we should go through."
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.