Having proved "miracles happen" with a 2-1 win at FC Barcelona, FC Rubin Kazan captain Sergei Semak hopes an open game at home can secure the Russian champions another famous result.
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Having proved that "miracles happen" with a 2-1 win at FC Barcelona on Matchday 3, FC Rubin Kazan captain Sergei Semak hopes an open game at home can secure the Russian champions another famous result.
Goals from Aleksandr Ryazantsev and Gökdeniz Karadeniz on Matchday 3 saw Rubin secure their first UEFA Champions League group stage victory in dazzling style, with the 33-year-old Semak recalling with pride: "It was a victory for Russia because it made fans happy all over the country, even the ones who didn't watch the game because there was so much talk about in the media the next day. It was also a big achievement for us. We are new to the tournament and you don't often see teams win at Barcelona. It is an honour, though luck was on our side with the way the game went on the night. It proves again that miracles happen."
Further demonstration of that fact in Kazan on Wednesday would be more than welcome, but while Barça have drawn two of their last three Liga games, Semak does not think the European and Spanish champions are going through a difficult period. "They are still the best team in the world and favourites to win our group; no doubt about that," said the 62-times capped midfielder, who has been struggling with injury since the win in Spain. "At home, we should be able to play a different game to the one in Barcelona and open things up. They will be under some pressure because a second loss in a row would make their lives more difficult, but it is in their hands and I do not doubt they will qualify."
'A big test'
Whether Rubin are the Group F side that will join Josep Guardiola's side in the first knockout round is a more contentious issue. Level on four points with Barcelona and FC Dynamo Kyiv, and one ahead of FC Internazionale Milano, Kurban Berdyev's side are in with more of a chance than expected. "Most thought the top two places were already booked, but the group turned out to be very interesting and every team has a chance of going through," said the former PFC CSKA Moskva idol. "If we have luck on our side, we can make it. This is a big test for us, but the way to develop is to be able to play at this level every year."
Rubin are a point clear at the top of the Russian table with three games to go, and while they enjoyed their moment of victory at Camp Nou, Semak is well aware they have no time to rest on their laurels in the coming month or so. "There was no time to celebrate with the Russian league reaching its climax, the next Champions League fixtures and Russia matches," he explained, with a nod to Russia's upcoming FIFA World Cup play-off against Slovenia. "We will celebrate everything we have done and achieved when we have a break after 9 December."