Thursday’s much-awaited Europa League draw for the round of 32 fixtures paired Atlético against Russian Premier League outfit Rubin Kazan.
The first leg of the knockout match-up will take place at the Vicente Calderón on Valentine’s Day, the 14th of February, but we doubt there will be little romancing between these two sides.
The second leg kicks off in Russia a week later, the 21st of February.
Rubin Kazan’s long winter break from league play started a week ago and runs all the way through March, which means their next official competition is their visit to Madrid to face off against the reigning champions of the tournament.
The Tatars received some bad news Thursday apart from having to take on Diego Simeone’s men, as the Russian FA reportedly hit them with a transfer ban due to unpaid wages.
This will prevent Rubin Kazan, currently seventh in the Russian league table, from registering new players for their domestic competition during the winter transfer window due to debts owed to ex-striker Roman Adamov, the local football association’s resolution council ruled.
Atlético striker Diego Costa will be unavailable for our next four matches in UEFA competition, as he was hit with the heavy punishment of a four-game suspension for his headbutt in Plzen that resulted in a red card.
Of the draw, ‘El Cholo’ told Atlético’s official site:
“Rubin Kazan will be tough and competitive opponents. They are a team with a very strong attack. Qualification is at fifty percent for both.”
Should Atleti qualify for the next round, they would square up against the winner between Levante and Olympiacos.
Here are the rest of the round of 32 match-ups:
Bate Borisov – Fenerbahçe
Inter – Cluj
Levante – Olympiacos
Zenit – Liverpool
Dynamo Kiev – Girondins
Bayer Leverkusen – Benfica
Newcastle United – Metalist
Stuttgart – Genk
Ajax – Steaua
Basil – Dnipro
Anzhi – Hannover 96
Sparta Prague – Chelsea
Borussia Moenchengladbach – Lazio
Tottenham – Lyon
Napoli – Viktoria
What do you think about the draw?