The UPL returned last weekend with a bang! We had goals galore across the six fixtures that were scattered over the weekend and into Monday. 
Mariupol kicked off the second half of the 2018/19 Ukrainian top flight season, coming from behind against fellow Donbas side (now in exile) Olimpik Donetsk. In what was an initially frosty game in both temperature and action, Olimpik took the lead through Pasich in the first half. 
Fortunately for the home fans, Mariupol decided to turn up just before the break and draw it level through a penalty from Pikhalyonok. Come the second half, it was another relatively drab affair, however, Boryachuk, who was linked with a European move during the winter break, scored the Mariupol’s second penalty and sealed the first UPL victory of 2019 for the coastal side.
Next up were Desna, who alongside Mariupol and a good few other teams are still challenging for a place in the ‘Championship Group’ which cuts off in three fixtures time. Whilst the first UPL match of the year was a relatively groggy affair Chernihiv’s game with Arsenal featured two deciding moments right at the start and at the very end of the game. Denys Favorov scored one of the fastest ever UPL goals to get the ball rolling for Desna, before his brother Artem came off the bench to score in added time to secure all three points for the travelling side.
FC Lviv were yet another side, chasing one of the top six spots, to resume their campaign. However, without Lucas Taylor and top scorer Bruno Duarte, they rarely tested their opponents, second bottom Chornomorets’, goal. Lviv’s ‘second’ club went on to lose the game and saw their top half finish seemingly fade away as their nearest rivals all picked up three points.
Karpaty Lviv looked to have no hope of even attempting to reach the ‘top six’ when they kicked off against Vorskla in Poltava on Sunday evening. They were ten points off the pace. However, after a terrific debut win for new Lions coach, Fabri and a rousing hat-trick performance from Celtic loanee Maryan Shved, the Lviv side have ensured they still have a slight hope of reaching the coveted sixth spot for another week at least. 
The Lviv sides meet THIS weekend in what will be a fiery derby at Stadion Ukraina. Only three points separate the two sidesin the table and both will be desperate to win not only to claim the city of Lviv as their own until the next fixture but also with added impetus on needing to maintain their slim chances of a Championship place. Karpaty go into the game in the better form of the two sides and the second top scorer in the league. 

Oleh Smaliychuk (Bald guy in middle) singing with Karpaty Ultras
After a dire 0-0 draw earlier in the season, this fixture needs to live up to ante that the Karpaty Ultras have been building up all week. The hostility from the Green Whites has even led to the resignation of vice chairman Oleh Smaliychuk after he was filmed topless in a bar with a load of Karpaty fans singing offensive chants about FC Lviv. We’ve got a feeling that it won’t be the last we see of him at Karpaty though as the club has a habit of reinstating and resigning staff from time to time. 
With Karpaty playing Shakhtar next week, the odds are against them when it comes to making the top six spots; however, a win this weekend will mean that a glimpse will still exist so it’s a must need win for both the club and the supporters especially with the derby atmosphere that the fixture will bring!
The top four finished off last week’s action with a Monday double header. Dynamo, buoyed by their Europa League win v Olympiacos and their next round draw against Chelsea, didn’t hold back. They demolished Zorya, who were relatively tepid throughout and were just unable to carve out any worthwhile opportunities against a now seemingly gelled and acclimatised Dynamo back line and keeper. Shaparenko and Verbic shone with two goals each. Verbic’s first was Messi-esque, shrugging off a few defenders, whilst dribbling his way from the half way by line into the box and unleashing a curling finish past the keeper. 

Handshake and Dab (Shaparenko (L) & Verbic (R)
However, Shaparenko and Verbic’s (Lacazette and Auba) handshake followed by a Pogba dab celebration was a difficult watch. Fran Sol also got on the scoresheet with an instinctive header after a solid performance of holding up the ball and creating greater space and opportunities for his midfield and wide playing team mates.
Shakhtar managed to keep Oleksandriya at bay, and maintain their lead at the top thanks to goals from Marlos and Moraes. An equisite outside of the foot cross from Marlos was met by Moraes’ head and placed into the empty net in what was the highlight of the match. Israeli youngster Solomon, got his first UPL appearance for his new side and looked a tricky player when he came on. One moment of respite did come for Oleksandriya when Yuri Pankiv saved a Marlos penalty and condemned some minus points on our fantasy football team.


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


Desna Chernihiv v Dynamo Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: Dynamo head to Chernihiv in high spirits. They haven’t really been free scoring at all this season but their last two UPL fixtures seem to show that the side is turning a corner. It’s no easy feat to put five past Zorya but they have been poor this season. 
Desna on the other hand seem to be overachieving. As it stands they are in the Championship group spots and not too far off Zorya either. Their defence is fairly astute and the Kyiv side will need to watch out for the goal scoring exploits of Denys Favorov from full back. 
However, with one eye on Chelsea in midweek, Dynamo will likely want to finish this nip this game in the bud nice and early. Should be relatively straightforward going on their recent performances. Desna won’t be able to cope. 0-3

Chornomorets Odesa v Shakhtar Donetsk
Todos’ prediction:Shakhtar only have eyes for the domestic titles. No European distractions mean that they should be dispatching lowly sides such as Chornomorets with ease. Marlos looks to be back to his best and this game looks guaranteed when it comes to goals. Chornomorets may have won surprisingly last week but the gulf in class will be just too much for them. Simple three points for the visitors . 0-4
RESULT: 0-1: MARLOS (76′)

Zorya Luhansk v Vorskla Poltava
Todos’ prediction: Two seriously underperforming sides meet, hoping to secure their Championship group fates for the rest of the season. However, both have been encountering problems in the goal scoring end. 
Both sides’ defences are more than capable of shutting UPL opponents out even after last week’s hidings but where they really lack is a natural born free scoring forward. Vorskla haven’t replaced Kulach adequately and Budkivskyi didn’t show too much against Dynamo so it’s going to be a tight game. Low scoring but Zorya will have just enough to rally themselves back to winning ways. More misery for Vorskla as they risk falling into the relegation group. 1-0
RESULT: 3-0: SILAS (45+1), HROMOV (62′), KARAVAYEV (77′)

Olimpik Donetsk v Arsenal Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: This game is certainly the least blockbuster of all the fixtures this weekend. Olimpik haven’t been the most inspiring under Shvechuk’s management but are relatively shrewd at the back. Balashov and Dehtaryov need to get back amongst the goals and rediscover some form as they’ve failed deliver for a while now despite promising starts to the campaign. 

Arsenal remain rock bottom. However, with some signings coming in this week, including Kalitvinstev and the loaning in of highly rated Shakhtar talent, Mudryk, it’s not too late or out of reach to catch Chornomorets yet in 11th. A goal a piece in this one. 1-1

Oleksandriya v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: Oleksandriya remain comfortably in third as the teams below them scrap amongst themselves. Despite harbouring a healthy lead over their rivals, this needs extending! Mariupol really are an unpredictable side, the ultimate yo-yo when it comes to consistency. Unfortunately, they face Oleksandriya at the fortress that is the Nika. 

Do not see too many goals being shipped in this one and a slender victory will see Oleksandriya get their 2019 off to a positive start after last week’s loss to Shakhtar. 1-0
RESULT: 1-1: BANADA (90+1′) / ZUBKOV (14′)
Karpaty Lviv v FC Lviv 
Todos’ prediction: This is the BIG ONE! Lviv hosts the second most anticipated derby in the league after the El Clasichne! Karpaty who will be on cloud nine after last week’s assault on Vorskla, will want to keep their narrow but still possible potential for reaching the top six alive. Added impetus remains as they face their, ‘fake club’ and ‘no fans’ as the Ultras call them, city rivals FC Lviv

FC Lviv remain without their two best Brazilians whilst Karpaty are ready to utilize Shved as well as the Estonian League top scorer Debelko in a forward line. After a goalless draw in the reverse fixture back in 2018, the least the players can do is reward their city with some goals. Karpaty are on a positive turn and transition. Momentum is in their favour. 3-1
Total scores after week 19
Todos v Guests
D2  L5

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