Home Stadium for 2018/19 Campaign: Metalist Stadium (Kharkiv)





GOALKEEPERS: 1: Oleksii Shevchenko, 30: Andriy Pyatov, 55: Oleh Kudryk

DEFENDERS: 2: Bohdan Butko, 4: Serhiy Kryvtsov, 5: David Khocholava, 18: Ivan Ordets, 22: Mykola Matviyenko, 31: Ismaily, 44: Yaroslav Rakitskiy

MIDFIELDERS: 6: Taras Stepanenko, 7: Taison, 9: Dentinho, 11: Marlos, 21: Alan Patrick, 23: Wellington Nem, 27: Maycon, 28: Marquinhos Cipriano, 29: Andriy Totovitskiy, 50: Serhiy Bolbat, 74: Viktor Kovalenko, 94: Oleh Danchenko, 99: Fernando

FORWARDS: 8: Olarenwaju Kayode, 10: Junior Moraes

Shakhtar started this season in a period of transition. They lost some of their key men of recent seasons during the summer. Prolific forward Facundo Ferreyra moved to Benfica, Bernard left for Everton whilst Fred departed to nearby Manchester United. Long serving club captain Darijo Srna was also released, after a doping ban. All three players featured heavily in last season’s Champions League campaign for Shakhtar that ended in the round of 16 against AS Roma. 
On paper it looks like these moves have depleted Shakhtar and left them short of serious European experience. However, they have recruited astutely, bringing in the likes of former Dynamo Kyiv forward, Junior Moraes and permanently signing striker Olarenwaju Kayode, from Manchester City, after a successful half season loan spell. Kayode has been injured for most of the season so far, whilst Junior Moraes has hit the ground running for his new side, continuing his consistent scoring record in Ukraine’s top division. Elsewhere, a new intake of midfielders from Brazil have also arrived at Shakhtar, but they have yet to fully bed in to the starting line up and will more than likely be used as substitutes during the European campaign. 

Junior Moraes (centre) is congratulated by team mates

This European season will more than likely see Shakhtar place greater focus on defence as they aim to shut out and narrowly edge their relatively similar abled group rivals for second spot. Manchester City are expected to finish top. Experience remains at the team’s core with Rakitskiy in the centre of defence and Stepanenko sitting in front of him in CDM. However, the loss of the energetic and aggressive Fred in CM will more than likely be felt against high quality opposition, with his replacement Fernando as of yet being inexperienced at such a level. Alan Patrick will continue to fill in this role as he has done in the league. Whilst Bernard did show glimpses of quality last season, his departure wont be as detrimental to the side. Marlos and Taison will remain key to Shakhtar’s attacking threat with Junior Moraes aiming to emulate Ferreyra’s European contribution of last season. 
This group looks well balanced on paper. Whilst Manchester City are heavy favourites, second and third place could be taken up by any of these sides. Shakhtar will need to put in strong home performances against Lyon and Hoffenheim in order to to have a chance of getting through to the next round. Lyon have a seriously reputable attack that will be needed to be supressed and the tactical genius of future RB Leipzig coach, Julian Nagelsmann currently at Hoffenheim will need to be outthought. 
Shakhtar do have a genuine chance of reaching the knock out rounds but due to a lack of squad depth and the inability to beat their league rivals, Dynamo twice so far this season, they will probably finish third. This is probably more beneficial for the club, as Shakhtar are unlikely to be able to match the quality of a first placed side in the Round of 16. A long Europa League knock out campaign should then ensue with a serious possibility of them going all the way.

Shakhtar will set up similarly to how they do in the league and will play in much of the same style as they did in last season’s Champions League campaign. 
4-2-3-1 is the preferential formation of Paulo Fonseca
Junior Moraes: 

Arriving from arch rivals Dynamo Kyiv in the summer led to much distaste from his former club’s fans. However, his decision has seen him start the season in electric form. He has scored 7 goals in 8 games and has also recorded 2 assists. Faster and more compact than his predecessor Facundo Ferreyra, Junior Moraes will bring a new dynamic to Shakhtar’s play in the Champions League. Rather than being a target man, Moraes is able to dribble with the ball and holds some pace. 
He’s a tricky nuisance in the box, ready to pounce on any defensive mix ups or goalkeeper spills. He also has the ability to hold up the play and pick out a shrewd pass for one of his attacking midfielders, namely Taison and Marlos who also have a knack for scoring. Moraes has experience in Europe with Dynamo Kyiv and scored 7 goals in the Europa League last season. He will be looking to seize the opportunity of playing in Europe’s top competition again and be aiming to maintain his early season goal scoring form going into the Autumn.

The Brazilian born, since turned Ukraine international has started the season as he ended the last; being the main man for Shakhtar. He pulls the strings from the right side of midfield, often drifting into the middle to orchestrate further goal scoring opportunities. He has so far scored 5 goals in the league and provided 1 assist this season. He will look to add to his European contribution from last season, where he managed 2 goals and 2 assists in 8 games. His link up play with Junior Moraes and Taison will be vital if Shakhtar are to outscore their opponents. 
He will also be aiming to work with either Oleh Danchenko or Bohdan Butko who, from the right full back position, will be looking for the overlap to feed Junior Moraes or the onrushing Taison in the centre of the box. As Junior Moraes is not the tallest of forwards, through balls and crosses along the floor will be the most common form of delivery from Marlos from his side of the pitch. He will also be aiming to whip in a few set pieces with the likes of Khocholava, Rakitskiy or Stepanenko regularly inside or on the periphery of the box waiting to knock into the net. 


Home Stadium for 2018/19 Campaign: NSC Olympiyskiy (Kyiv)






GOALKEEPERS: 1: Georgiy Bushchan, 71: Denys Boyko, 72: Artur Rudko

DEFENDERS: 9: Mykola Morozyuk, 17: Sidcley, 23: Josip Pivaric, 26: Mykyta Burda, 30: Artem Shabanov, 44: Tamas Kadar, 94: Tomasz Kedziora

MIDFIELDERS: 5: Serhiy Sydorchuk, 6: Tche – Tche, 7: Benjamin Verbic, 8: Volodymyr Shepelev, 10: Mykola Shaparenko, 15: Viktor Tsyhankov, 18: Oleksandr Andriyevskiy, 19: Denys Garmash, 20: Vitor Bueno, 29: Vitaliy Buyalskiy, 99: Mikkel Duelund

FORWARDS: 41: Artem Besedin, 43: Nazariy Rusyn, 89: Vladyslav Supryaha

Dynamo Kyiv began their league campaign without any drastic changes to their squad make up from the season before. Junior Moraes left for Shakhtar, but his departure was expected after a loan spell in China had occurred in 2017. One problem this move has resulted in is that Dynamo Kyiv have been left to rely on three young strikers. Artem Besedin, who is the most senior of these three, is far from prolific and most of his performances leave a lot to be desired. Artem has scored 1 goal in 8 appearances and is injured for the time being. 

However, he is expected to return to the starting line up once he regains fitness. With such a scoring record coming from their main striker, it’s reasonable to expect that his back ups are in even worse form. However, Nazariy Rusyn, who made his Europa League debut last season and scored in the competition has 2 goals in 6 appearances. It will be a toss of the coin between him and 18-year-old, Vladyslav Supryaha, who made his club debut against Ajax in the UCL Play Off round second leg. He has made the step up from newly promoted Persha Liha side SK1 – Dnipro and is yet to hit the ground running with a goal. 
Supryaha has yet to score for Dynamo. Will he get his first one in the Europa League?

The lack of current goal scoring form has begun to be detrimental to Dynamo’s league campaign despite a promising start. They sit 7 points off Shakhtar in top spot but do have a game in hand over them.  Having beaten Shakhtar twice in the opening weeks of the season, once during the Ukrainian Super Cup and second in a home league game, Dynamo were continuing to grind out narrow wins. The lack of consistent goals was already blatant to see but nothing was done to address these problems, bar the signing of Supryaha. Manager Aleksandr Khatskevich and club owner, Ihor Surkis have paid the price with their lack of serious transfer movement in this area as the club crashed out of the UCL in the play off rounds and have failed to win their last three league games on the bounce ahead of the start of European competition. 
Whilst this hiccup is unlikely to last much longer, either via the dismissal of Khatskevich or through Dynamo bucking up and finally pushing aside the weaker league sides, it currently has the potential to harm their first few Europa League games. Viktor Tsyhankov, has yet to replicate his form of last season and opposite winger, Benjamin Verbic has faded out of form after a promising opening couple of months to the campaign. Luckily, Dynamo’s defence looks fairly solid for the time being with Mykyta Burda and Tamas Kadar seeming to be working well together in the middle but, even still, neither matches the authority and ability of the now departed duo of Yevhen Khacheridi or Domagoi Vida. Denys Boyko, in goal, is also temperamental in his performances. In some games he is unstoppable, saving every shot that comes at him, whilst in others he is hopeless. He’s either spilling long shots or flapping at corners and crosses and most of the time these mistakes directly impact the full time result. So this European campaign will really depend upon which Boyko decides to turn up as it will be in the defensive areas where Dynamo will seek to edge out games with their current lack of in form goal scorers.
Looking over the group composition, on paper at least, Dynamo Kyiv should be looking to win it comfortably. However, in light of their recent dip in form it may not turn out that way in practice. Astana, in the second seed spot are seasoned in both Europa League and Champions League competitions in recent seasons. They will try to get an upset over the Kyivan side, all the more so as their manager is former Chornomorets Odesa boss, Roman Hryhorchuk.  Stade Rennais, are also a formidable side, playing against top Ligue 1 talent on a weekly basis. FK Jablonec will most likely be the whipping boys of the group on their Europa League debut but without any expectations, they shouldn’t be ruled out of causing an upset especially as Dynamo Kyiv are making a name for themselves as perennial ‘bottlers’. Despite this worst case scenario outlook, Dynamo should pick up some form over their autumn and winter games and should look to progress far into the competition. This will also depend on whether the usual ‘after the ‘winter break’ European melt down’ occurs or not. Dynamo certainly have the ability and talent to win this group, it will just boil down to the hunger of the players and the ability to shake things up from the manager, especially when things are going wrong!

Dynamo will likely set up in Khatskevich favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with two inverted wingers. The full backs will look to push up the pitch to help the wide players out on the overlap to provide crosses into the box for the sole striker that will play up top on their own. 

Benjamin Verbic
Whilst Benjamin is already a club legend for his numerous match winning goals in games against Shakhtar since his arrival in January, he could become much more than that with big performances in Europe. The left winger started the season well, with goals in the league and champions league qualifying rounds. However, after those initial fixtures his form has since waned. This competition is the perfect opportunity for him to regain some of it, and to take the lead for a side depleted in confidence.
He’s a pacey wide player with good dribbling ability. His goals usually come from getting on the end of set pieces or stroking in from inside the penalty area. He will be looking to work with his left sided full back, Josip Pivaric, to link up play across that channel. As Verbic is a right footer playing on the left, he will also be able to cut in and provide square or through balls for whichever forward that starts and to his opposite number, Viktor Tsyhankov, who also has an eye for goal.
Josip Pivaric

Having taken extended time off to relax after reaching the World Cup final with Croatia, Pivaric has recently returned to the starting fold for Dynamo. His partnership with Verbic down the left flank will be vital in producing a large majority of Dynamo’s goal scoring opportunities. 

Pivaric is a no nonsense left back. His defensive qualities are of a high standard, and he is certainly not shy to fly in with a tackle against pacey wingers that work down his side. He may not be the fastest or technically gifted dribbler but he has got good crossing ability and should be available for Verbic on the overlap on most occasions. Likewise, his opposite number Tomasz Kedziora will be vital in linking up with Viktor Tsyhankov to try and pull off the same thing on the other flank.


Home Stadium for 2018/19 Campaign: Oleksiy Butovsky Vorskla Stadium (Poltava)


GOALKEEPERS: 1: Bohdan Shust, 21: Oleksandr Tkachenko

DEFENDERS: 3: Andro Giorgadze, 4: Ihor Perduta, 5: Najeep Yakubu, 23: Vadim Sapai, 25: Yevhen Martynenko, 33: Olexandr Chyzhov, 44: Ardin Dallku, 50: Ibrahim Kane,66:  Artur

MIDFIELDERS: 6: Oleksandr Sklyar, 7: Gegam Kadimyan, 8: Artem Habelok, 11: Vyacheslav Sharpar, 13: Marian Mysyk, 17: Volodymyr Chesnakov, 19: Volodymyr Odariuk, 29: Dmytro Kravchenko, 30: Aleksandre Kobakhidze, 82: Pavlo Rebenok

FORWARDS: 9: Mykhailo Serhiichuk, 10: Vladyslav Kulach, 14: Nicolas Careca, 26: Yuriy Kolomoets
Vorskla began the season in rather disappointing fashion. However, it was to be expected that they would lose to the Ukrainian big two in Shakhtar and Dynamo. 2 other losses and 4 wins have meant that they sit in 5thplace in the UPL ahead of their return to the Europa League. Vorskla finished third last season matching their best ever league finish since 1997. Vasyl Sachko’s has retained the majority of last season’s bronze medal side and due to their European inclusion have been able to recruit a couple Brazilians, a Ghanaian and a Malian. Artur, who signed from Internacional, has been a regular at left back, whilst Nicolas Careca, on loan from Gremio, has featured largely off the bench for the Poltava side and has one goal in 6 appearances. One thing Vorskla have been lacking in their 8 games so far this season is a consistent goal scoring forward. 
Will Yuri Kolomoets rediscover his goalscoring form in the UEL?

Vladyslav Kulach, is the side’s top scorer with 2 goals whilst his other forward partners, aside from Careca, are yet to open to their accounts. Vorskla have edged out their opponents in the league, with dogged and aggressive defensive displays. The side’s creative players; Kobakhidze and Sharpar do have the ability to put in quality balls or thread passes, however its their forward team mates, namely target men, Kolomoets or Serhiychuk who have been unable to convert chances. Kolomoets, who went a lengthy scoring run at the beginning of last season, has since had a significant dip in form and has been a shadow of the player than got a call up to the Ukraine National Team last autumn. 
Vorskla Poltava go into their Europa League campaign as the underdogs. Their group holds formidable pedigree in Arsenal, Sporting Lisbon and FK Qarabag. All the sides have featured in European club competitions consistently in recent seasons. However, Vorskla go into this campaign with nothing to lose which may lead them to pull off a few shocks. Arsenal, have a new manager in Unai Emery, and it is more than likely that most of his first XI will be rested during the group stage round as he focuses on the Premier League. A probable sell out crowd for the tie in Poltava may buoy Vorskla to get a result.
Sporting Lisbon are recovering after a tumultuous summer, featuring fans beating up players and in response, losing many of their key men. Yet again, Vorskla may be able to take advantage of this. Qarabag enter the Europa League having participated in last season’s Champions League. On paper, they look to be the most likely side that Vorskla could get a positive result out of. As mentioned previously, Vorskla have got no expectations heading into this tough group and as a result the players will be able to go out and enjoy the occasion of being able to play in some of Europe’s top stadiums, including Baku, where the Europa League final will be held next May.
It is likely that Vasyl Sachko will line his side up as he has done for most league games this season, with a 4-2-3-1 formation. He will have two holding midfielders, two wide players and a supporting striker playing behind the target man up front. 

Pavlo Rebenok
The left midfielder will be relishing a chance to come up against some top clubs. Whilst he has yet to hit hit peak form in terms of delivery and assists this season, registering just one so far in 8 games, his side’s forwards will be looking to pick up their own form in order to convert the opportunities he provides. 

A seasoned UPL veteran, aged 33, he isn’t the quickest anymore, but he his dogged, aggressive and does help out with the defensive side of things on the left flank.

Vladyslav Kulach
The secondary forward joined on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2017, where he has remained for a second season. At the age of 25, he has yet to gain a senior appearance for his parent club but has been well versed in first team football with various loans across the UPL. He has started the season off strongly, having scored 2 goals in 6 games, he is currently his side’s top scorer and most potent attacking threat. 

He is technically gifted, being able to dribble well with the ball and he possesses some pace. However, in games against the bigger sides he does sometimes get lost. So it will depend on whether he is able to up his game against the likes of Arsenal and Sporting. If Vorskla are going to score goals in this campaign it will most likely come from the boots of Kulach. 

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