In-case "Rubin" immediately draws to mind the delicious corned-beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut sandwich, no Herr Klopp, you're thinking of a Reuben, and the best one on earth can be found at Benji's Deli in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Rather than a sandwich, Rubin Kazan is our next Europa League challenger, hailing from Mother Russia. The city of Kazan is approximately 800 km (500 miles) east of Moscow. Rather than some distant outpost, Kazan is the 8th largest city in Russia with a population of 1.1 million, and is considered to be the sporting capital of this vast nation. Russia is a terrifyingly enormous country.
The club was founded in 1958, but did not ascend to the Russian Premier League until 2003. Despite their newbie status among Russia's footballing elites, Rubin Kazan has been very successful, winning two consecutive league titles in 2008, and 2009. They also won the 2012 Russian Cup.
Rubin Kazan has had several decent European campaigns, as evidenced by their coefficient ranking, a full 20 spots higher than Liverpool's. Their first proper European competition came in 2009-10, with entry into the Champions League group stages. Their group featured Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Dynamo Kiev. Impressively, the Russian club managed to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp 2-1, en route to finishing third, thus qualifying for the Europa League, where they advanced to the Round of 16. (If Liverpool fans want to feel depressed, the Reds were a Champions League "Pot 1" team this season, but finished 3rd in their group behind Fiorentina and Lyon).
The following season, Rubin Kazan drew Barcelona once again in the Champions League group stage, and again failed to qualify for the Champions League knock-out rounds, but qualified for Europa League. Since 2011-12, the club has qualified out of the Europa League group stages every season, making it as far as the quarter finals in 2012-13 before succumbing 4-5 on aggregate to Rafa Benitez's Chelsea squad.
The stadium where Kazan will host Liverpool, Kazan Arena, was converted into an Olympic-sized pool for the World Swimming Championships back in July. There hadn't been any rush to re-convert it into a football pitch due to the recent low turn-out of local supporters, but apparently drawing into a group with Liverpool changed all that. So, somewhere beneath the freshly-laid pitch will be a paved-over pool. And for some reason images of Joe Allen falling through the pitch into the abandoned swimming pool have filled my mind. I don't want this to happen, but it just seems like the sort of thing that would happen .
Aside from having their new stadium (opened in 2013) converted to a swimming pool with no real plans to change it back, supporters have also been upset about the club's new crest. To be fair, the old crest looks like something dreamed up by a Soviet political commissar, whereas the new one is much more modern--with a dragon bearing a striking resemblance to our very own liver bird.
Should be interesting.
Liverpool host Rubin Kazan tomorrow, October 22, 8:05 GMT, and Liverpool make the long trek to Russia on November 5, hopefully without any pool-related injuries.