THE UPL REAWAKENS: MATCHDAY 19 2018/19

THE UPL REAWAKENS: MATCHDAY 19
POST WINTER BREAK PREVIEW:
Shakhtar Donetsk
POSTION: 1st
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 1st
(Europa League: 1-1 / 1-4: (6-3) aggregate LOSS vs Eintracht in R32)
Remainder of the season thoughts:
Tumbling out of the Europa League before the UPL had even resumed will have been extremely disappointing for Shakhtar. Even more so having to see Dynamo still in it. However, with their Kyivan rivals now having a distraction for the next few weeks at least, Shakhtar can already think about lifting another UPL title. Seven points clear at the start of the 2019 part of the season already relieves some of the pressure on the side. 
Consistent starters in the campaign’s first half; Rakitskyi and Danchenko have left for the country of the Aggressor. Promising young Israeli Manor Solomon has come in to add to Shakhtar’s abundance in attack with Valeriy Bondarenko, a stalwart at the back for Oleksandriya until December, moving to the Miners to replace ‘he who does not sing the anthem.’ It looks to be a straightforward end to the season for Shakhtar, with showdowns against Dynamo being key to whether they remain at the top of the pile or not in both the league and cup!
Transfers In: 
Manor Solomon – Macabbi Petah Tikva  – £5.4m
Marcos Antonio – Estoril – £3.15m
Valeriy Bondarenko – Oleksandriya – £540k
Transfers Out:
Yaroslav Rakitskyi – Zenit – £9m
Pylyp Budkivskyi – Zorya Luhansk – Free
Serhiy Hryn – Velje BK – Free
Mykyta Shevchenko – Zorya Luhansk – Loan
Oleh Danchenko – Enisey  – Loan
Dynamo Kyiv
POSTION: 2nd 
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 2nd
(Europa League: 2-2 / 1-0: (3-2) aggregate WIN vs Olympiacos in R32)
Remainder of the season thoughts:
Before the UPL closed for 2018, Dynamo had got themselves into a decent run of form, culminating in a 4-0 hammering of Karpaty Lviv. They return to action on the back off a scintillating defensive display against Olympaicos in front of a close to 50,000 strong crowd at the Olympiyskyi! Dynamo’s newest recruit, Fran Sol, got off the mark in that game and he looks like he has serious hunger and determination to get into goal scoring opportunities and the ability to get shrewd poacher like goals. Tsyhankov and Verbic can be relieved of the overwhelming burden of playmakers and goal scorers in the side, now they have proper forward to link up with. Where this leads the likes of Supriaha, who joined in the summer for a rumoured 7 million or so is unclear. 
It does look like Artem Besiedin’s time at the club is numbered, with Nazariy Rusyn being the main back up striker to Sol, with Artem once again ruled out for a substantial period of time with another injury. Dynamo are certainly not favoured to win the league this year but with some a few fixtures against Shakhtar to play, anything can happen. However, until they get knocked out of the Europa, it is presumed that will be their primary focus. Chelsea are up next, and with the London club looking vulnerable, Dynamo has every chance to take their own seat in the competition’s Quarter finals!
Transfers In: 
Fran Sol – Willem II – £3.15m
Transfers Out:
Mykola Morozyuk – Rizespor – Loan
Nikita Korzun – Al Fateh – Loan
Zurab Ochihava – SK Dnipro-1 – Loan
Aleksandr Pantic – Cadiz – Loan
Vladyslav Kalitvintsev – Free Agent
Oleksandriya
POSTION: 3rd
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 6th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

Oleksandriya were the surprise package of 2018 and comfortably sit in 3rd place ahead of the 2019 restart. Dogged defensive displays and the ability to edge games out by one or two goals has been the key mantra for Volodymyr Sharan’s side. Over the winter break, they lost their best central defender in Valeriy Bondarenko, who left for top club Shakhtar. The question will be whether the defence can stay as tight and disciplined now he has left the back line. Oleksandriya’s recruitment over the winter window was shrewd, bringing in three experienced UPL players. 

They managed to swipe Vladyslav Kulach off of league rivals, Vorskla, who returned to parent club Shakhtar hoping for a move to Europe but ended up settling for Oleksandriya instead. Denys Dedechko, returns from the Aggressor’s country but he will be a safe bet to strengthen the midfield, whilst Valeriy Luchkevych also returns to Ukraine after a difficult time in Belgium with Liege. 

With an 8 point lead over 4th placed Zorya, if Oleksandriya can hold them off for the remainder of the season, they will be rewarded with a debut Europa League group stage spot, which is likely to be the main goal for this side. The Ukrainian Leicester marches on!

Transfers In: 
Denys Dedechko – SKA Khabarovsk – Free
Vladyslav Kulach – Shakhtar Donetsk – Loan
Valeriy Luchkevych – S. Liege – Loan
Transfers Out:
Valeriy Bondarenko – Shakhtar Donetsk – £540k
Zorya Luhansk
POSTION: 4th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 3rd
Remainder of the season thoughts:

Despite currently sitting in fourth, Vitaliy Vernydub will be seriously disappointed with his side’s season so far. The Luhansk side have been largely inconsistent this season, being unable to string a successful run of positive results together. They even lost to Arsenal Kyiv at one stage. 

During the transfer window, some ever present Zorya players have left for new challenges; Kharatin, Svatok and summer signing Rafael Ratao are now scattered across Europe. Zorya have brought in some replacements. Namely Pylyp Budkivskyi returns to the club after his spell in France ended. Can the Ukraine U21 all time top scorer re-establish himself again in the UPL? Maksym Bilyi and Ihor Chaykovskyi also return. 

This side looks to have enough over closest rivals Vorskla, but consistency will be key in whether they hold them off and start to ramp the pressure on Oleksandriya or not.
Transfers In: 
Nemanja Ivanovic – Sindjelic Bg – Free
Ihor Chaykovskyi – Anzhi – Free
Pylyp Budkivskyi – Shakhtar Donetsk – Free
Maksym Bilyi – Mariupol – Free
Mykyta Shevchenko – Shakhtar Donetsk – Free
Transfers Out:
Ihor Kharatin – Ferencvaros – £540k
Oleksandr Svatok – Hajduk Split – £338k
Rafael Ratao – Slovan Bratislava – Loan
Vasyl Pryima – Soligorsk – Free
Vorskla Poltava
POSTION: 5th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 5th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

Vorskla have let go of three forwards during the window and this could end up being detrimental to the club’s chances of a second consecutive season in the Europa League. Rumours have been circulating regarding the club not being allowed to compete in the UPL next season due to debts, so this second half of the season could well be a last hurrah for a well loved and historic UPL club. 

Some forward options have been brought in, but both are largely unknowns in Petrovic and Sehic. Fortunately, Vorskla’s defensive line seems to have remained intact and as a result, they still be a difficult side to score against. However, the real issue will be who will be getting the goals for this side with strikers at a premium and Kolomoyets seriously out of form.
Transfers In: 
Todor Petrovic – Vozdovac – Free
Edin Sehic – Hajduk Split – Free
Transfers Out:
Mykhailo Serhiychuk – Desna – Free
Vladyslav Kulach – Shakhtar Donetsk – End of Loan
Gegam Kadimyan – Free Agent
Desna Chernihiv
POSTION: 6th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 9th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

Desna have impressed on occasion this season and currently sit in the final ‘Championship’ group spot in their debut UPL season. However, they are only in there on goal difference. Luckily they have reinforced their squad with a few signings during the hiatus. The Ukrainian Pirlo, Andriy Bohdanov returns from a spell in Poland, whilst Mykhailo Serhiychuk, who was scoring for fun for Veres a while ago, joins from Vorskla, where the majority of his appearances were from the bench. Desna have so far managed to keep a hold of Denys Bezborodko, who had a potential move to Turkey fall through. A consistent spine remains and they will be aiming to be one step ahead of their rivals; Mariupol and FC Lviv in the final 4 games before the league splits in two!

Transfers In: 
Mykhailo Serhiychuk – Vorskla – Free
Mykhailo Kozak – Rukh Vinnyky – Free
Dmytro Nemchainov – Krilya Sovetov – Free 
Andriy Bohdanov – Arka Gdynia – Free
Temur Partsvania – Free Agent
Transfers Out:
Anton Bratkov – Macabbi Petah Tikvah – Free
Maksym Banasevych – Kolos Kovalivka – Loan
Vitaliy Yermakov – Avanhard Kramatorsk – Loan
Luka Koberidze – Free Agent
Oleksandr Kovpak – Free Agent
Mariupol
POSTION: 7th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 7th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

A low activity window doesn’t change much for Mariupol. They will be looking to push into the ‘Championship’ group ahead of Desna over the next four fixtures. Mariupol have been another inconsistent side this season but have still been able to rank in at a decent place in the table. Young Karpaty Lviv prodigy, Danylo Sikan has joined on loan from his new parent club, Shakhtar and hopefully we’ll be able to see this youngster get some game time in the UPL. One that looks like a certainty is that if Mariupol scrape into the top group, it’s likely they will be the whipping boys.
Transfers In: 
Danylo Sikan – Shakhtar Donetsk – Loan
Transfers Out:
Maksym Bilyi – Zorya Luhansk – Free
FC Lviv
POSTION: 8th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 8th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

FC Lviv have been at it again in the window, recruiting a few more Brazilians to the side. They will soon be garnering the nickname of the  Shakhtar of the West! FC Lviv have had some great results so far this season and will be eager to push themselves into the Championship group and aim for those Europa League qualifying round spots. 

Lviv are just a point behind Mariupol and Desna so it really is all to play for. One thing this side has over the other two rivals is that they have a serious goal machine in that of Bruno Duarte. With some of these new Brazilian signings also keen to show what their own talents are, it will be exciting to watch this ‘plastic club’ play out for the remainder of the season!
Transfers In: 
Lipe Veloso – FC Tokyo – Free
Pedro Vitor- Aris Saloniki – Free
Kaue – Palmeiras B – Loan
Oleksandr Nasonov – Free Agent
China – Free Agent
Dmytro Fatiyiv – Free Agent
Transfers Out:
Serhiy Petrov – Rukh Vinnyky – Free
Oleksandr Holikov – Chornomorets – Free
Yuriy Putrash – FK Minaj – Free
Artur Zapadnia – Volyn Lutsk – Free
Olimpik Donetsk
POSTION: 9th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 10th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

Olimpik are also not too far off the pace from the 6th place chasing pack. However, with them needing four points to make in four games, it looks like they’ll need to rely on the sides around them to slip up. Vyacheslav Shevchuk lost one of this coaching staff over the winter, with Ruslan Rotan taking up Ukraine U21 duties. He has also been rocked with a few players leaving the club who have been pivotal in the club’s performances of the past few seasons. 

Anton Kravchenko leaves again as does Serhiy Vakulenko, whose loan ended and has since joined up with Arsenal Kyiv. Defensively, Olimpik look quite weak, when this was usually their main position of strength. Shevchuk will need to pull out a few coaching masterclasses in the meantime. It’s looking likely that Olimpik will remain in the ‘Relegation’ group and play out to a mediocre end to the season, maybe challenging for the top spot ‘best of the rest’ trophy!
Transfers In: 
Matar Dieye – Este – Free
Roman Vantukh – Dynamo Kyiv 2 – Loan
Transfers Out:
Anton Kravchenko – Kisvarda – Free
Yevhen Zubeyko – Free Agent
Dmytro Bilonoh – Zirka Kropivnitsky – End of Loan
Serhiy Vakulenko – Shakhtar – End of Loan
Dmytro Nemchainov – Krilya Sovetov – End of Loan
Karpaty Lviv
POSTION: 10th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 4th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

The summer will be the main crisis point for Karpaty when Maryan Shved leaves for Celtic. However, it seems that for now, they are more than likely to stay up this season with the player options new manager, Fabri has at his disposal. A lot of loanees have come in during this window, Martin Hongla and Yoda will be two to look out for. However, Karpaty don’t seem to have replaced Jorge Carrascal, who left for River Plate and Orest Lebedenko who moved to Spain’s CD Lugo. 

Creativity may be lacking during this half of the season, bar the obvious contributions of Maryan Shved. Karpaty look to be at the start of a transition period. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t cause a return to the serious instability that they have encountered over the past few seasons. The real question will be whether Fabri will b able to hold onto his job until the end of the season, with Karpaty being well known for changing managers like the weather!
Transfers In: 
Karim Yoda – Reus Deportiu – Free
Maryan Shved – Celtic – Loan
Martin Hongla – Granada – Loan
Roman Debelko – FCI Levadia – End of Loan
Nika Sandokhadze – RFS – End of Loan
Transfers Out:
Maryan Shved – Celtic – £1.8m
Orest Lebedenko – CD Lugo £630k
Jorge Carrascal – River Plate – Loan
Cristian Erbes – Nacional – Free
Oleh Borodai – Gornik Leczna – Free
Oleh Holodyuk – Haladas – Free
Mykyta Shevchenko – Shakhtar Donetsk – End of Loan
Roman Pidkivka – Free Agent
Chornomorets Odesa
POSTION: 11th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 12th
Remainder of the season thoughts:

Chornomorets were our pre season tip for relegation. However, whilst they’re not bottom, their performances leave a lot to be desired. They currently sit 4 points above rock bottom Arsenal and 5 points behind Karpaty. Whilst they do have it in them to pull off a rare positive performance, it looks like their season will be determined with how they perform in the ‘Relegation’ group stage of the league in a few game weeks time. They have had a lot of players leave over the winter, with some Ukrainian journeymen replacing them. Far from an exciting side, if they get relegated it won’t be a great loss to the league (from a footballing side) at this current moment in time. However, it will be catastrophic for the city of Odesa, having no sides at Ukraine’s top football table. The real shame is the club’s legacy which has dwindled ever since Roman Hryhorchuk left the club. The Europa League knockout rounds in 2014 seems like a generation ago now, looking at the current state of the club. 
Transfers In: 
Volodymyr Tanchyk – Stomil Olsztyn – Free
Oleksandr Holikov – FC Lviv – Free
Vasiliy Pavlov – Ventspils – Free
Volodymyr Arzhanov – Kaysar – Free
Vitaliy Hoshkoderia – Okzhetpes – Free
Yevhen Morozenko – Free Agent
Transfers Out:
Robert Mutzers – Kozakken Boys – Free
Yuriy Romaniuk – SK Dnipro-1 – Free
Yevhen Smirnov – Gomel – Free
Vladyslav Khomutov – Zlate Moravce  – Free
Anatoliy Didenko – Free Agent
Artur Karnoza – Free Agent
Dmytro Bezruk – Free Agent
Arsenal Kyiv
POSTION: 12th
OUR PRE SEASON PREDICTION: 11th
Remainder of the season thoughts:
After the winter break began, Vyacheslav Hrozny left his position as Arsenal Kyiv manager, with the side rock bottom of the UPL. It looks to be more of the same for the ‘other’ Kyiv club in this second half of the season with Ihor Leonov now in charge. Some serious last minute acquisitions have occurred in the window, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to keep this sunken ship from sinking. 
Serhiy Vakulenko, one of Olimpik Donetsk’s star men over the past couple seasons and Vyacheslav Tankovskiy have come in from Shakhtar but even they don’t particularly inspire a great escape narrative. It seems a return to the Persha Liha is now an inevitability even though they have so many games to go.
Transfers In: 
Roman Pidkivka – Free Agent
Dmytro Balshay – Free Agent
Serhiy Vakulenko – Shakhtar Donetsk – Loan
Maksym Zhychykov – Free Agent
Vyacheslav Tankovskiy – Shakhtar Donetsk – Loan
Dzhaba Lipartia – Free Agent
Gegam Kadimyan – Free Agent
Oleksandr Kovpak – Free Agent
Transfers Out:
Maksym Feshchuk – Vitebsk – Free
Serge Akakpo – Elazigspor
Leonid Akulinin – Free Agent
Dmytro Zozulya – Free
Oleksandr Nasonov – Free Agent
Serhiy Hryn – Shakhtar Donetsk – End of Loan
PREDICTOR TIME


A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.

SATURDAY


Mariupol v Olimpik Donetsk
Todos’ prediction:A classic Donbass derby kicks off the end of the UPL’s winter hiatus this weekend. Mariupol and Olimpik went into the winter straddling mid table spots. It currently looks like a three horse race to secure the final ‘Championship’ group spot with 4 games to go and Mariupol are right in contention. Despite the warm weather friendlies, it’s likely this will be a groggy affair, with both clubs making the return to competitive football. Score draw. 1-1
RESULT: 2-1: PIKHALYONOK (P) (45+1′), BORYACHUK (P) (48′) / PASICH (25′)

FC Lviv v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: FC Lviv are another club battling it out for that coveted final Championship group slot. They picked up some historic results during 2018, beating Dynamo Kyiv away and drawing with Shakhtar in Kharkiv and will be looking to cap of a successful first season back in the UPL by playing against the big guns in the final part of the season. The Brazilians in the side are sure to help with this. Chornomorets are unpredictable but it seems that FC Lviv has a far superior squad. 2-0
RESULT: 0-1: HOSHKODERYA (32′)
SUNDAY

Arsenal Kyiv v Desna Chernihiv
Todos’ prediction:The current side holding onto the 6thplace Championship group spot is Desna. Alongside fellow ‘promoted’ side FC Lviv they’ve been quite impressive this season. However, only goal difference separates themselves and Mariupol in 7th. As a result it will be vital for them to get some points on the board against the league’s whipping boys. Desna have been able to hold onto star striker, Bezborodko, in the winter window so far and will be looking to maintain their slender lead against Mariupol in the table. Arsenal Kyiv look defeated before they even hit the pitch.  0-2
RESULT: 0-2: D.FAVOROV (1′), A.FAVOROV (P) (90+1′)
Vorskla Poltava v Karpaty Lviv
Todos’ prediction: It was a busy transfer window for both clubs over the winter break and one that could prove to be detrimental in how the seasons end. Vorskla lost their main goal scoring threat, Vladyslav Kulach, who was recalled by Shakhtar and then loaned out to league rivals, Oleksandriya. 
Karpaty lost Orest Lebedenko and Jorge Carasscal, two key men. It’s difficult to predict this one as Karpaty have a new manager at the helm in Spaniard, Fabri, but with Shved still in the side until the summer, they will always have that extra quality to score a goal from somewhere. Whereas, Vorskla still look like a solid outfit but now have even less scoring outlets.  0-1
RESULT: 0-4: DI FRANCO (25′), SHVED (51′, 55′, 90+1′) 
MONDAY

Dynamo Kyiv v Zorya Luhansk
Todos’ prediction: Dynamo go into this Monday game with serious optimism after beating Olympiacos in the Europa League. Fran Sol will be hungry to hit the ground running in the UPL after getting his debut goal against the Greek side. Dynamo’s defence looks seriously assured at the moment and it will be in Khatskevich’s side to keep up the pace with Shakhtar until the very end. Zorya have lost a couple of important players from the spine of their team in Kharatin, Svatok and Rafael Ratao leaving over the break. Dynamo will be just too strong in this one! 3-0
RESULT: 5-0: SHAPARENKO (34′, 45′), VERBIC (38′, 53′), SOL (73′)


Shakhtar Donetsk v Oleksandriya 
Todos’ prediction:Shakhtar return to domestic action after a seriously disappointing cameo run in the Europa League. Now with Europe out of the agenda, the league and cup can be given 100% attention. With a 7-point lead at the top, The Miners will be wanting to make sure they have that gap between themselves and Dynamo to relieve pressure over this second part of the campaign. Oleksandriya, this season’s surprise package and the Zorya Londonsk Team of the Year 2018, will just not have enough goals to get past the Donetsk outfit. It won’t be easy for Shakhtar but they’ll get the three points in the end. 2-0
RESULT: 2-0: MARLOS (14′), MORAES (35′)
MATCHDAY 19 FINAL SCORE: 120!
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PREDICTOR LEADERBOARD (UPDATE IN PROGRESS)
Total scores after week 19
Todos
950
Guests
720
Todos v Guests
P19
W12
D2  L5

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