THE BATTLE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP: MATCHDAY 22
THE UKRAINIAN FOOTBALL ROUND UP:
This week’s football round up will be relatively brief… and that’s through no large fault of our own.
Last Saturday’s fixtures (3 of them) saw a total sum of zero goals scored.
All four teams who had a potential championship group place to secure all drew. Mariupol stayed in fifth as they played out a drab 0-0 with Chornomorets, Vorskla were held at home to Desna, whilst FC Lviv also had a stalemate with visiting Zorya! So much for the magic of the UPL!
Fortunately Sunday was slightly more entertaining albeit relatively one side matches for the league’s top two!
Dynamo beat Arsenal Kyiv in a non contest Capital city Derby, with the hosts coming away as 4-0 victors thanks to goals from Harmash (2), Sidcley and a Tsyhankov penalty. It seemed that Dynamo were ready for their big home tie with Chelsea later in the week.
Unfortunately, they weren’t. Dynamo were hopeless. They registered their first shot on target after 140 minutes of football against Chelsea. No attacking threat was seen from the stands or on TV, as the Kyiv 65,000 strong crowd were given further reason as to why they shouldn’t turn up week in week out to watch their home town side.
Dynamo’s biggest ever European home defeat loss completed a relatively poor European campaign from Ukrainian sides in general. We now pray that Oleksandriya can restore some pride in next year’s Europa League!
Elsewhere in the UPL, Shakhtar demolished Karpaty 5-0 in Kharkiv whilst Oleksandriya were denied their first victory of the year when Olimpik equalised in the 88thminute. They remain 3rdwith a 5-point lead over 4thplaced Zorya!
A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.
Chornomorets Odesa v Oleksandriya
Todos’ prediction: Chornomorets have had a mini resurgence thus far since the turn of the year with a shock win, a draw and a narrow loss to Shakhtar. However, they still sit second bottom and it’s unlikely they’ll be moving away from there any time soon.
Oleksandriya on the other hand have been far from impressive. They have also lost to Shakhtar this year whilst drawing their other two games against lower quality opposition. However, this game seems to be the perfect fixture for Oleksandriya to bounce back to winning ways. They were so close to three points last week so they will be hoping to come out the blocks all guns blazing. A typical low scoring but comfortable win for the visitors. 0-1
RESULT: 0-3: SITALO (5′ & 39′) BABOHLO (32′)
Zorya Luhansk v Shakhtar Donetsk
Todos’ prediction:This is likely to be dubbed the Game of the Week by many. However, looking at the recent fortunes of Zorya and their relatively inconsistent season so far this is likely to be a straightforward victory for Shakhtar despite a few cagey matches between the sides in recent seasons.
Shakhtar have only the league and cup to play for now and are still 7 points clear of Dynamo so they will be wanting to ensure that they don’t encounter any slip ups ahead of playing their nearest rivals twice again in the Championship group stage of the league. If Dynamo can beat Zorya comfortably, then so can Shakhtar. 0-3
RESULT: 0-1: J.MORAES (25′)
Desna Chernihiv v FC Lviv
Todos’ prediction:This game has a LOT on the line. Whoever wins, stands a great chance of gaining a Championship Group spot granting other fixtures go in their favour. Desna remain level on points with Vorskla in the 6thand 7thborderline spots whilst FC Lviv remain a point behind. This is a tough game to call as both sides have goal scorers in their side but so far this calendar year neither side’s forwards have had the greatest of luck in finding the back of the net. FC Lviv have lost one, won one and drawn one, with no goals being scored by their own players since the UPL returned from the winter break. Desna have a greater variety of threats, especially at set pieces and will be looking to exploit that today. As Desna are at home, they will edge this just. Whether it will be enough for them to gain entry into the Championship group we will have to wait and see.1-0
RESULT: 0-1: FERREIRA (58′)
Karpaty Lviv v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: Mariupol likely need a point to secure themselves a spot in the Championship group and this fixture against an already secured ‘relegation group’ placed Karpaty should be easy enough for them to get it.
Karpaty see the return of star man, Shved for this game but since their win against Vorskla a few weeks ago, the Lions have been unable to recreate anything close to such a performance. It will be a tight game, but neither sides’ defences are good enough to keep a clean sheet, hence there should be some goals with the attacking talent on display but it’s too close to call.1-1
RESULT: 1-1: PONDE (33′) / ZUBKOV (8′)
Olimpik Donetsk v Dynamo Kyiv
Todos’ prediction:After serious humiliation in midweek against Premier League Chelsea, Dynamo will want to put that disgrace behind them with another comprehensive victory against one of the low lying sides in the league. Olimpik have been struggling all season both in defence and in attack, and it’s likely that the gulf in class between Dynamo and Shevchuk’s side will be apparent for all to see.
With some injuries still affecting Khatskevich’s men, he will likely field a similar makeshift side but even so it should have enough to beat Olimpik. A walk in the park and onto the next one for the Kyiv club. 0-3
RESULT: 1-2: HAI (27′ P) / TSYHANKOV (14′ P) RUSYN (39′)
Arsenal Kyiv v Vorskla Poltava
Todos’ prediction:It’s one of the most underwhelming MNF of the season, that sees two sides face each other who can’t score a goal between them. Vorskla who remain without a goal scoring threat featured in a 0-0 draw last week which was no surprise to anyone. Arsenal were handed a hiding from Dynamo which was inevitable.
These two sides meet with Vorskla desperate to pick up any points in order to try and secure a Championship spot for themselves for the rest of the season. It’s likely they will muster a goal out of somewhere and have their solid defence to thank for not conceding. The narrowest of victories will see Poltava take the three points home. 0-1
RESULT: 2-2: VAKULENKO (8′ & 90′ P) / SHARPAR (24′ P & 56′ P)
MATCHDAY 22 FINAL SCORE: 80
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PREDICTOR LEADERBOARD (UPDATE IN PROGRESS)
Total scores after week 22
Todos v Guests