Saturday, August 8

Champions League draw countdown part 2

19 days to go

In the run up to the UEFA Champions League group stage draw on August 27 in Monaco, we will preview one of United's possible opponents each day.

Rubin Kazan FC

This odd-sounding team won the Russian league for the first time in their 61-year history in 2008 and will make it two in a row if they hold on to top spot in the remaining four months of the 2009 season.

They play in the city of Kazan, which is in the Tatarstan Republic, which is 500 miles east of Moscow. With the exception of Israeli teams, it's about as far as you can go for a European game.
The Kazan Central Stadium holds 30,133, so we would get an allocation of roughly 2,000 tickets, though I doubt it would be oversubscribed.

Tatarstan is one of the most developed parts of Russia with a high employment rate and heavy industrialisation, so crime isn't as high as in places like Moscow, but it's fair to say the danger factor would be high regardless.

With a population of three million people, two thirds of those are Muslim, and it might be a challenge to get a pint.

Don't forget that, before you've even thought about travel plans, you need an £80 visa to travel to Russia.

Ways to get there (all prices approximate and return)

- Fly from London Gatwick to Helsinki on easyJet for £45 and get a 31-hour train to Kazan for £200
- Fly from London Stansted to Cologne and onto Moscow, all on germanwings, for £300 and get a 12-hour train for £50
- Fly from London Heathrow to Moscow on British Airways and onto Kazan on S7 Airlines for £420
- Fly from London Heathrow to Moscow for £235 on bmi and then get a 12-hour train to Kazan for £50

Fun factor: 7/10
Safety factor: 2/10
Bargain factor: 1/10
Convenience factor: 1/10
Score: 11/40

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