Last year's win at FC Barcelona is precious to FC Rubin Kazan goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov but ahead of their return to Camp Nou he suspects the hosts will want to take them down a peg.
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Only one team managed an away win against FC Barcelona in Europe or the Spanish Liga last season – FC Rubin Kazan. On Tuesday they may need to do so again if they are to stay in the UEFA Champions League.
If Rubin want to progress from Group D, they must pick up more points at Camp Nou against section winners Barcelona than second-placed FC København manage at home to eliminated Panathinaikos FC. However, the Russian side's 2-1 success in Barcelona last October – when despite having just three goal attempts to the Blaugrana's 24, goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov stood firm – offers hope.
"That match was one of the most memorable of my life," Ryzhikov told UEFA.com. "That win was top class. A lot of teams dream about beating Barcelona at Camp Nou, but not many succeed. Even Real Madrid were not able to do it recently. Nevertheless I believe our best matches are still to come both in terms of performances and results."
Rubin, who kept their chances alive with a 1-0 defeat of København a fortnight ago, have not played since their Russian Premier League campaign ended with a 28 November draw at FC Lokomotiv Moskva. Their two-year reign as domestic champions closed with a third-place finish, considered disappointing by some but not by Ryzhikov.
"We have taken a small step forward compared with last year but it is very important nonetheless in terms of Rubin establishing themselves as a big club," said the 30-year-old, who has extended his contract until 2014.
Last season, despite their victory at Camp Nou, competition debutants Rubin came third in the group after a 2-0 Matchday 6 loss at eventual champions FC Internazionale Milano. This term, they are again guaranteed at least a UEFA Europa League round of 32 berth.
"I would say both our campaigns have been successful," said Ryzhikov. "After five games we have six points – the same as last year. Maybe the group was stronger last year but this time three teams have been fighting for second place. Whatever, we have already booked our European place for the new year."
The result Rubin may come to rue was their opening loss at København, falling to an 87th-minute Dame N'Doye goal. "On the one hand I feel we were unlucky that evening," the keeper said. "On the other we lost concentration and were punished. As a result we are now in third place, where we are likely to finish."
They can yet do even better if they extend their unbeaten record against Barcelona, having also held the Catalans at home both this season and last. "I think they have a grudge against us and will try to do everything to take Rubin down a peg," Ryzhikov warned.