Friday Kickoff: Chelsea drawn with Rubin Kazan, Pogba and Varane earn callups, and more

EdenHazardvsSteaua (Getty)

BY DAN KARELL

Chelsea have been drawn against Rubin Kazan in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Europa League.

Kazan come in with a title-beating record, taking down Inter Milan in the group stage, while defeating defending Europa League champion Atletico Madrid in the round of 32. The Blues survived a challenge from Steaua Bucaresti in the previous round to ensure a place in the final eight of the tournament. The matches for this round will take place on April 4 and April 11.

Newcastle were drawn in a mouth-watering matchup with Portugal’s Benfica, and Tottenham were placed with Switzerland side FC Basel.

Here’s a look at the Europa League quarterfinal matchups:

Chelsea vs. Rubin Kazan

Tottenham vs. FC Basel

Fenerbahce vs. Lazio

Benfica vs. Newcastle

Here are some more stories to get your Friday started:

TEENAGERS EARN FRANCE CALLUP

Raphael Varane, defender for Real Madrid, and Paul Pogba, midfielder for Juventus, both earned a call up to the France National Team on Thursday, for the upcoming matches against Georgia on March 22, and Spain on March 26.

Both players, 19-years-old, have enjoyed breakout seasons for their respective clubs, with Varane staring for Real Madrid against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey, and Pogba impressing in the Champions League and Serie A all season, playing alongside Andrea Pirlo and co.

Winger Franck Ribery was also called into the squad, despite missing Bayern Munich’s Champions League match after taking a knock on his ankle.

DEL BOSQUE DROPS TORRES FOR UPCOMING MATCHES

Though he scored on Thursday evening, Fernando Torres has suffered another blow, this one to his ego, having been dropped by Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque for next weekend’s matches against Finland on March 22, and France on March 26.

Barcelona defender Carles Puyol has also been left off the squad, while eight players have been called from their clubs in England. Sergio Ramos is in line to win his 100th international cap, when La Roja face Finland in Gijon, Spain, but there’s the chance that Ramos could be rested for the all important tie against France.

Malaga midfielder Isco could win his first cap in a competitive match, after playing 20 minutes in Spain’s February friendly win against Uruguay.

BOCA JUNIORS RIGHT SHIP WITH VICTORY OVER NACIONAL

In the final Copa Libertadores group-stage matches until April, Argentine power Boca Juniors won their first game in their last four, defeating Nacional of Uruguay 1-0.

Playing in front of a packed house in Montevideo, the turning point of the match came in the 43rd minute, when referee Paulo Cesar de Oliveira gave Nacional and Uruguayan international Andres Scotti a yellow card for a foul in the box, and awarded Boca a penalty kick. Juan Roman Riquelme stepped up to the spot, and a minute later, blasted the ball home for his side’s only goal of the match.

With the win, Boca Juniors have moved into second place of Group 1, with six points, and only two matches remaining in the group stages.

Around the continent, Bolivian side San Jose recorded their first win of the competition, beating Colombian squad Millonarios 2-0, while Arsenal de Sarandi of Argentina recorded an important win against Brazilian team Sao Paulo 2-1.

QUICK KICKS

Former Mexico manager and star Hugo Sanchez is linked with the managers position at Wellington Phoenix, in the A-League. (REPORT)

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has asked Chelsea if his side can hold onto on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois through next season. (REPORT)

According to a report from Buenos Aires, the new Pope is a long suffering San Lorenzo fan. (REPORT)

Brazil remain ranked in 18th place on FIFA’s international rankings, after the most recent report was released. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Chelsea advancing to the next round? Do you believe Pogba and Varane are ready to start for France? Think Torres should have been called up?

Share your thoughts below.

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12 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Chelsea drawn with Rubin Kazan, Pogba and Varane earn callups, and more

  1. I think therefor I am says:

    Poor Torres but he hasn’t been all that important for Spain since WC 2010. Euro 2008 was where he shined. His competition is Villa, Llorente, Soldaldo, Negredo and all the younger guys coming up. Though to be honest he’s only 29. He;s been around for a long time.

    • WG says:

      There has been talk that his knee surgery, and rushed return for the WCF 2010 is the major reason for his sad decline in form. Whatever else people may say about him, he hobbled/endangered his career to play for Spain. He has said he has no regrets for doing so.

    • RK says:

      He was really disappointing, and hobbled, during Euro 2008, and only scored one goal (in the final, at least).

    • wfrw07 says:

      Says a lot about Spain that the guy who won the Euro Golden Boot wasn’t that important to the team.

      • Samurai says:

        Del Bosque emphasizes the overall strength from team chemistry moreso than just the guy who scores alot of goals. Spain had a fantastic individually skilled team years ago with Raul and other decent players, however they never won anything.

  2. Iggy says:

    Great draw for spurs.

  3. Pogba is class! Fergie should have tried to move mountains to keep him at Man Utd. Would have loved to see him play regularly in the Prem.

  4. elmatador says:

    Raphael Varane is a no brainer…and to think here we think JA Brooks is too young to play for the USMNT :-(

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Are you really comparing a player who’s starting games for Real Madrid to a player who’s starting games in Bundesliga 2? Okay.

      • Robbie says:

        Very valid point regarding the discrepancy in the quality of leagues, but quality of player pool for respective national teams must also be taken into account. That said, the way klinsman courts germericans, a brooks call up seems more of a question of when rather than if.

  5. Sly says:

    Great draw for Liverpool and Arsenal and Everton. Hopefully Chelsea and Spurs run themselves ragged with extra time and pks and exhaustion and flu and all that and get distracted in the league allowing Liverpool to steal 4th place.

    • Robbie says:

      Nothing like a chance for silverware to distract from league play. Totally biased opinion here, but I like chelsea’s chances to win europa AND qualify for next year’s champions league