UPL MATCHDAY 17 PREDICTOR – EURO 2020 QUALIFYING DRAW PREVIEW
UPL ROUND UP
Last weekend’s round of fixtures spurred some almighty shocks across the league. Most notably, both Shakhtar and Dynamo dropped points against opposition they would traditionally beat. Shakhtar saw out a goalless draw against UPL newbies FC Lviv, with Lviv’s ‘second’ side showing the spirit of Veres Rivne from seasons’ past with dogged defending and the solid Bandura in goal frustrating Shakhtar on a bitterly cold night in Kharkiv.
Mariupol hosted Vorskla at home before an escalation of tensions in the Azov Sea saw Vorskla’s footballing week go from bad to worse. The Poltava side suffered a surprising defeat to The Seagulls and as a result lost ground in the battle for third place.
Karpaty hosted Desna at the Stadion Ukraina in front of a brand new LED score screen but this wasn’t enough to get them a victory as they lost 2-0, their fifth consecutive home defeat. Such a string of results meant that Karpaty and ex Barnsley boss Jose Morais, was rewarded by an approach from South Korean side and K-League-1 Champions, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Jose subsequently left his role as the Lviv side’s head coach after just 104 days in charge. Oleh Boychyshyn has taken up the caretaker role for the second time this season and he’s likely to see out the remainder of the pre winter break season.
Elsewhere, Olimpik Donetsk claimed a point against struggling Zorya Luhansk, who have been unable to see games out that they have been leading in. A lack of a reliable goalscorer up front still persists for them. In the big relegation six pointer, Chornomorets Odesa beat Arsenal Kyiv 2-1 to ensure they have some breathing space against the league’s rock bottom club. Vyacheslav Grozny’s Kyiv tenure has not been going well to say the least.
Last week’s fixtures culminated with the Game of the Week, in which Oleksandriya hosted Dynamo Kyiv. The game was poised for a classic, with Oleksandriya sitting just two points below the Kyivans, meaning a win would mean that they replace their prestigious opponents in 2ndplace.
The game got off to a lively start with ex Dynamo man, Tsurikov scoring a stunning volley before Verbic got the away side back in the game. However, it was down to Denys Boyko’s haphazardness, challenging for a ball on the edge of the box, that awarded Oleksandriya with a penalty. Zaporozhan, kindly obliged in taking his opportunity and converted from the spot. Oleksandriya saw out the win, to give the Central Ukraine side their first ever win over Dynamo in the club’s history! Can the Ukrainian Leicester maintain this and claim a UCL qualifying spot?
EUROPEAN ROUND UP
|Ismaily celebrates after giving Shakhtar
It was a mixed bag of emotions for Ukrainian sides in Europe this week. Shakhtar travelled to Germany to face Hoffenheim, knowing this game was the make or break for staying in Europe altogether this season. Whichever side came out on top was likely to secure a Europa League place in the spring at the very least. In what turned out to be a highly contested and fast paced game, Shakhtar got off to a brilliant start. They went 2-0 up inside 15 minutes thanks to Ismaily and Taison. But as was the case in the reverse fixture in Kharkiv earlier this season, Shakhtar capitulated before the half time whistle and were pegged back to 2-2 thanks to Kramaric and Zuber.
An end to end second half, including a second yellow red card for Adam Szalai, was most likely entertaining viewing for a neutral but it was evident that Shakhtar were getting frustrated. Fortunately, their Brazilian goal scorers from the first half, linked up in the dying minutes to ensure Shakhtar took all three points back to Ukraine with them. Captain fantastic, Taison scored the winner after some great work down the flank from Ismaily. This now sets up a winner takes all play off versus Lyon in the final group stage match. If Shakhtar win, they go through to the UCL knock out rounds, if Lyon don’t lose they’ll be the ones staying in Europe’s premier competition.
In the Europa League, Dynamo Kyiv travelled to Astana in a match where the winner was ensured of topping the group with a game to spare. In a bitter cold Kazakhstan, the game at the Astana Arena was played with a closed roof and on artificial turf. Dynamo took the lead in the first half thanks to some great combination play between Tsyhankov and Verbic, allowing the latter to score yet again this season. However, the game was far from comfortable for Dynamo, with FC Astana totaling 22 attempts on target compared to Dynamo’s 5! If the Kyiv side want to go far into the competition next year, they’ll be needing to seriously improve, otherwise they will fall apart against stronger opposition.
|Vorskla played in front of close to
empty stands in Kyiv
Finally, we come to Vorskla who were gearing up for the biggest game in their history against North London’s Arsenal. Preparation was underway from last weekend, with volunteers helping to clear the stadium of snow and covering both the pitch and seats to ensure fans and players alike were allowed to enjoy the stadium’s facilities come Thursday. However, due to Russian escalation of tensions in the Sea of Azov on Sunday, President Poroshenko proposed the introduction of Martial Law in Ukraine. Parliament ended up voting on a bill, which meant 10 Ukrainian regions were placed under the control of the Army. Poltava was NOT one of these regions. However, this did not stop UEFA from intervening and forcing the team to relocate their game to Kyiv’s Olympiyskiy. A match so deeply anticipated by a great Ukrainian city, was now to be deprived of witnessing their club’s greatest sporting fixture.
Over 21,000 tickets had been sold for the game at the Oleksiy Butovskiy Stadium that home fans would never end up seeing. The game did take place in Kyiv in the end, with Vorskla players lining up in front of an almost empty stadium. The Arsenal side they faced boasted 13 players from the U-23 squad and a fair few of them started. The end result of 3-0 flattered Vorskla, who were woeful in the first half. The defence was all over the place and the forwards such as Kulach were just unable to do anything right. The psychological toll of the week’s events caught up with the players and it impacted the final result. #UEFAMAFIA
EURO 2020 QUALIFYING DRAW PREVIEW
The draw takes place in Dublin at 11am (UK time) on 2ndDecember 2018. All pots have been ranked based on UEFA Nations League finishing positions. The four group winners of League A, are in the Nations League pot, meaning their Euro 2020 qualifying groups will be capped at 5 teams. This is to ensure one matchday of fixtures will be kept free in order for the four sides to play in the Nations League Finals in Portugal next summer. Qualifying starts on 21stMarch 2019 and will conclude on 19thNovember 2019.The top two sides from each group will qualify automatically, with play offs deciding the remaining four sides in Spring 2020.
UEFA Nations League Pot: Switzerland, Portugal, Netherlands, England
Pot 1:Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland
Pot 2:Germany, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic
Pot 3: Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Finland, Bulgaria, Israel
Pot 4: Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Georgia
Pot 5:FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands
Pot 6:Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino
BEST CASE SCENARIO:
BASED ON NATIONS LEAGUE RANKINGS:
BASED ON UKRAINE’S H2H RECORD:
UKRAINE ( x x x )
WORST CASE SCENARIO:
BASED ON NATIONS LEAGUE RANKINGS:
BASED ON UKRAINE’S H2H RECORD:
UKRAINE ( x x x )
OUR FAVOURED SCENARIO & WHY:
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
With ZLW being based in London, it’s natural that we’d love to see another match up between England and Ukraine at Wembley. A short trip to Dublin, also wouldn’t go amiss to keep this group and Ukraine firmly in the eye of the British media! A classic 0-0 stalemate between Shevchenko’s Ukraine side and Mick McCarthy’s Ireland would be an essential ‘I was there’ event! Georgia
THE GROUP WE GOT
Overall this group is more than satisfying for both the team and fans alike. Whilst there aren’t many exotic away days to look forward too, Portugal to start off with in March will be the litmus test to see how far Ukraine have come in the past year. It’s a group they can certainly get out of and ZLW is tipping them to top the group!
A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.
Desna Chernihiv v Zorya Luhansk
Todos’ prediction: This game is being at the Obolon Arena in Kyiv, due to the state of the pitch at Desna’s home stadium. In front what will likely be a low turnout, the quality of football is likely to not be much better. Desna have been playing well lately, but Zorya shouldn’t be pushovers. Zorya have been ‘yo-yo-ing’ this season in terms of form and just can’t seem to close a game off. As a result, neither side is likely to pick up all three points or a clean sheet. 1-1
RESULT: 0-2: SILAS (23′) , KABAEV (80′)
Arsenal Kyiv v Karpaty Lviv
Todos’ prediction: Karpaty return to the road and will be licking their lips as this week’s opposition. Whilst their home record has been atrocious this season, they’ve turned on the quality when away. As a result, it is expected that they get Oleh Boychyshyn’s return as caretaker manager off to a winning start. Arsenal Kyiv are a gulf below the rest of the league and with Dynamo Kyiv Ultras likely to be in the crowd to support their Karpaty allies, it’s difficult to envisage anything but a Karpaty win. 0-2
RESULT: 1-1: GUEYE OG (24′) / HUTSULIAK PEN (72′)
FC Lviv v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: Bouncing from last week’s draw against Shakhtar, FC Lviv will be wanting to inflict more pain against another Donbas side. Mariupol who are so unpredictable, will be wanting to prevent that but they don’t travel very well and with such a long trip, we see FC Lviv with their resolute defence and Brazilian attackers edging this one. 1-0
RESULT: 2-2: B.DUARTE (6′) , VORONIN PEN (24′) / PIKHALONOK (22′) , VAKULA (80′)
Shakhtar Donetsk v Olimpik Donetsk
Todos’ prediction: Back from Hoffenheim with a win, Shakhtar will be wanting to regain some league momentum after their shock shutout against FC Lviv last week. It’s the Donetsk derby, played in Kharkiv. Vyacheslav Shevchuk, faces his old side for the first time in the league so it will be a special occasion for the Olimpik boss. Olimpik can be a difficult team to score against on their day but it should be a relatively straightforward job for Shakhtar. Not a rout but comfortable nonetheless. 2-0
RESULT: 2-2: MORAES (7′ & 90+3′) / PASICH (52′) , BALASHOV (66′)
Vorskla Poltava v Oleksandriya
Todos’ prediction: The first of a MONDAY double header of fixtures pits these two sides challenging for Europe. Oleksandriya are on cloud nine at the moment, having beaten Dynamo Kyiv last week whilst Vorskla will be seriously dejected after the farce that revolved around their Europa League match. Neither side has a prolific goalscorer and ultimately this result will be lie in the defensive capabilities of both teams. Lack of chances and lack of goals to ensue. 0-0
RESULT: 0-1: KOVALETS (4′)
Dynamo Kyiv v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: Dynamo will be keen to avenge their draw against the Odesa side earlier in the season and be looking to keep up the pace with both Oleksandriya and Shakhtar. Chornomorets is usually a side Dynamo loved to play against and it’s likely to return to that despite Chornomorets beating Arsenal Kyiv last week. The Odessites will probably take their foot off the gas, knowing they have a buffer zone between themselves and the drop thanks to that win. As a result, Dynamo are likely to cruise to a comfortable win. No Europa League hangover in sight. 3-0
RESULT: 2-0: TSYHANKOV PEN (21′) , BESIEDIN (61′)
MATCHDAY 17 FINAL SCORE: 10…
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GUEST LEADERBOARD (UPDATE IN PROGRESS)
Total scores after week 16
Todos v Guests