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Rubin to provide stiff test for holders Atlético

Club Atlético de Madrid are aiming for UEFA Europa League glory for the third time in four seasons but will first have to overcome an FC Rubin Kazan team who finished top of their section.

Atlético's Falcao has finished top scorer in the competition's last two seasons
Atlético's Falcao has finished top scorer in the competition's last two seasons ©AFP/Getty Images

Holders Club Atlético de Madrid will take some beating in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, but FC Rubin Kazan have shown that they can pull off remarkable results in Spain.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competiton.

• Atlético's three previous meetings with Russian clubs ended W1 D1 L1 (W0 D0 L1 at home – W1 D1 L0 in Russia).

• Rubin's experience of Spanish opponents amounts to four UEFA Champions League group stage meetings with FC Barcelona which ended W1 D2 L1 (W0 D2 L0 at home – W1 D0 L1 in Spain). They famously beat Barça 2-1 at Camp Nou in the 2009/10 competition.

Match background
• Atlético's European record 16-game winning streak in UEFA competition ended with a 2-0 defeat at A. Académica de Coimbra on matchday four of the group stage. However, their run of straight home wins remains unbroken. That stands at 12, the last side to beat them in a European game at the Estadio Vicente Calderón being Aris Thessaloniki FC in December 2010 (3-2).

• Rubin, who finished top of Group H, are unbeaten in Europe this season having recorded four wins and two draws in the group stage.

• Runners-up in Group B, Atlético have won two of the three UEFA Europa Leagues since the competition took on its new identity. They have yet to lose a knockout stage tie in the UEFA Europa League.

• Rubin are playing in the round of 32 for a fourth season in succession, but have not reached the round of 16 since their first attempt in 2009/10, when they beat Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC before bowing out to VfL Wolfsburg.

Team facts
• Atlético's Falcao is the joint-second highest scorer in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League, he and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar having racked up 30 goals each (including qualifying matches). They need ten more if they are to match the competition's all-time top scorer, Henrik Larsson.

• Falcao has won back-to-back UEFA Europa League titles, with FC Porto and then Atlético, finishing top scorer both seasons (with a record 17 goals for Porto in 2010/11 and 12 more for Atlético in 2011/12). He is bidding to become the first player to win the competition (in this guise and as the UEFA Cup before) three times in a row.

• Atlético could become the fourth side to win this competition for a third time, along with Juventus, FC Internazionale Milano and Liverpool FC.

• Rubin's César Navas celebrates his 33rd birthday on the day of the game. He played on his 32nd birthday last season, as his side lost 1-0 at home against Olympiacos FC in the round of 32.

• Atlético goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo played alongside Rubin striker José Rondón during a loan spell at Málaga CF in 2010/11.

• Rubin defender Iván Marcano played alongside Atlético's Diego Godín at Villarreal CF in 2009/10, and in a loan stint at Getafe CF in 2010/11, he rubbed shoulders with another Atlético defender, Cata Díaz.

• Aside from Marcano, Rubin have two other Spanish players: defender Navas and midfielder Pablo Orbaiz.

• Hired in December 2011, Atlético coach Diego Simeone picked up the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup trophies in his first eight months in charge, adding to the considerable haul he won as a defensive midfielder. A Spanish double winner in 1995/96 in the first of two spells with Atlético, the man capped 106 times by Argentina captured the 1997/98 UEFA Cup at FC Internazionale Milano and then an Italian double in 1999/2000 with S.S. Lazio.

• Kurban Berdyev has been coach of Rubin since 2001, leading the club to successive Russian titles in 2008 and 2009 and a Russian Cup in 2012. Previously a defender and midfielder in the top Soviet league with SKA Rostov-na-Donu and FC Kairat Almaty, he coached teams in Russia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan before leading Rubin into Russia's top division.

Round of 16: Levante UD/Olympiacos FC v Atlético/Rubin
• The first legs will be played on 7 March, with the returns the following Thursday.

• Rubin and Olympiacos met in last season's round of 32, with the Piraeus side progressing to the round of 16 with 1-0 wins in both legs.

• Atlético could meet their former Argentinian midfielder Ariel Ibagaza in the next round if they and Olympiacos make it through. The sides have met before, in the 1992/93 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals, with the Spanish side prevailing 3-1 at home after a 1-1 draw in Greece.

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