Europa League quarter-final draw: Chelsea, Spurs, Newcastle kept apart

• Chelsea to play Rubin Kazan, and Tottenham face Basel
• Newcastle drawn against Portuguese side Benfica

Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur all managed to avoid each other in the draw for the quarter-finals of the Europa League where they will meet Rubin Kazan, Benfica and Basel respectively.

Although Patrick Kluivert, the former Newcastle and Holland striker who conducted the draw for Uefa, suggested the English trio are among the favourites to be celebrating in Amsterdam in May, Chelsea and Newcastle face particularly tough ties. "There are three great teams from England," said Kluviert. "And for sure one of those can lift the trophy."

Rubin Kazan will have very different ideas as they prepare to meet the current Champions League holders. Rafael Benítez's side will face a Russian side which has already knocked out two Spanish sides in Atletico Madrid, the Europa League holders, and Levante. Moreover Rubin were unbeaten in a tough group including Internazionale last autumn and, having conceded only three goals in 10 European games this season, are particularly strong defensively.

Benítez will hope Chelsea can play the away leg in Moscow rather than Tatarstan. Rubin's base, the Russian republic of Tatarstan, is the furthest east of any European club left in the competition but they staged their last-16 home match against Levante at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium due to problems with their pitch. It will be re-examined by Uefa inspectors early next week when a decision will be made as to the tie's Russian venue.

Kurban Berdyev, Rubin's coach, greeted the draw with enthusiasm. "Chelsea is probably the toughest opponent we could get," he said. "But playing a top English team will act only as an extra motivation and make this tie more attractive."

Benfica arrived in the Europa League after finishing third in a Champions League group including Barcelona and Celtic during which they drew 0-0 at Camp Nou. "I'm really pleased with the draw, it's fabulous," said Alan Pardew. "Benfica are top of the Portuguese League and have a fantastic history but playing the second leg at home gives us a slight advantage. My feeling is that I have a side that can beat anybody."

Rui Costa, the Lisbon club's director of football, is similarly optimistic about Benfica's chances. "I felt that all the teams wanted to avoid us and that shows our credibility in European football,' he said. "Newcastle deserve all our respect but we trust in ourselves. We will give it our best to go through."

On paper at least, Andre Villas Boas's Spurs face the easiest of the three ties. Basel scraped into the quarter-finals only after Russia's Zenit St Petersburg missed a late penalty on Thursday night but Murat Yakin, the Swiss team's coach, seems undaunted by the prospect of facing Gareth Bale and friends. "We're extremely exicted," said Yakin. "Tottenham Hotspur are a great team from a wonderful city and we have nothing to lose."

Full Europa League quarter-final draw

Chelsea v Rubin Kazan

Tottenham Hotspur v Basel

Fenerbahce v Lazio

Benfica v Newcastle United

comments powered by Disqus