ANOTHER CLASICO: MATCHDAY 25
THE UKRAINIAN FOOTBALL ROUND UP:
The UPL enters Matchday 25 off the back of another week and a half break, and finds itself playing out its fixtures during midweek once again. Ukraine has a new President, after the elections of which, during the previous weekend, prevented these matches from taking place. However, after the freest and fairest in Ukrainian history, it looks like no more sporting events will be affected by political developments, until at least the end of the season.
The top three all won last time out, maintaining the league positions in the Championship Group. Dynamo ran out as 1-0 victors in Mariupol, a second string Shakhtar side routed Zorya 3-0 in the Donbas Derby whilst Oleksandriya edged out 2-1 winners against FC Lviv. In the meantime, FC Lviv have appointed a new manager, in the form of relatively unknown and inexperienced at the top level, Bohdan Blavatskyi after Yuri Bakalov’s departure.
The Relegation Group saw Arsenal Kyiv move out of the bottom spot for the first time this season thanks to a 1-0 win over the capitulating Vorskla, whilst Olimpik and Chornomorets saw out a 1-1 draw which would end up being Vyacheslav Shevchuk’s last game in charge, as he left the club via mutual consent. Meanwhile, Desna edged further clear in the ‘Best of the Rest’ top spot with an unsurprising victory against Karpaty, who are seemingly incapable of stringing together a run of consecutive wins.
After the UPL fixtures, came the Ukrainian Cup Semi Finals, which saw another GIANT KILLING! Ukraine will now see a lower league side play in the final for the very first time, after the village of Petrove, with a population of 8,000 and their side Inhulets saw off UPL Zorya Luhansk 2-1! They will now face the holders, Shakhtar in the final in Zaporizhya after The Miners saw off Dnipro-1 in the dying minutes 2-0!
A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.
Olimpik Donetsk v Arsenal Kyiv
Todos’ prediction:Olimpik start a new era without Vyacheslav Shevchuk as manager against the side that had been bottom of the table for the entire season, until the last matchday came around.
The visitors are now only three points behind Olimpik and will be looking to reduce that gap during this on, with their recent run of form. It is incredibly tight at the bottom, and currently any one of the bottom 5 could get sucked into the battle.
Olimpik have not won a game in a while and it was against Olimpik that Arsenal’s hot streak began, so this is likely to be an engaging encounter. Can Arsenal move a step closer out of the relegation play off spots or will it be Olimpik keeping up with Karpaty who are only three points above them? With their loanees now performing for them, it seems Arsenal go into this one as slight favourites. 0-1
Karpaty Lviv v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: Whilst it’s not quite Vorskla, Karpaty should be looking to take away all three points from this one at home. Chornomorets, have seriously dropped off over the past month, falling into last place and looking doomed to remain within the relegation picture until the end of the season.
Maryan Shved will be hoping to add to his tally of 15 UPL goals as his side aim to move clear of the relegation play off area for a while at least, with the two current berth holders meeting each other. Yes, Karpaty are as unpredictable as it gets, but even they should be able to see off this Odesa side with relative ease. 3-0
Vorskla Poltava v Desna Chernihiv
Todos’ prediction:The most out of form side in the league host the ‘Relegation Group’ leaders who now boast a few more points than some sides in the ‘Championship Group’. Desna have been seriously impressive in their debut UPL season and look like strong favourites to pick up the Best of the Rest trophy at the season’s conclusion.
Denys Favorov, club captain, full back and Ramos-esque in the fact he doesn’t shy away from taking penalties, has been his sides star man! Whether it be shoring up his back line to popping up with a game winning header, he’s been a stalwart throughout. He will be looking to command his side against a flailing Vorskla who have yet to win in 2019 and have lost their last 4 games in a row in all competitions.
Of course, all records must come to an end and it would be in typical UPL fashion for the in form Desna to drop points at the Oleksiy Butovsky stadium, but at this moment in time there’s just no seeing past an away team victory. 0-2
Zorya Luhansk v FC Lviv
Todos’ prediction: This Ukrainian Cup Quarter Final repeat, dubs these evenly matched sides against one another. FC Lviv, have looked out of their depth in the Championship Group thus far, but will be looking to change that in Zaporizhya. They have a new manager and he could provide the old cliché ‘new manager bounce’, in the form of a draw.
Zorya need to win as they look to secure their own Europa berth but as they have been out of sorts for much of the season, it’s unlikely that they will be too convincing in this one especially with a lack of a consistent goal scoring outlet. Bruno Duarte of FC Lviv, got a first goal in a while during the last matchday and will be wanting to add to that. Draws galore in the Championship Group this time out. 1-1
Oleksandriya v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: It is 3rdv 4thin the table. Oleksandriya are also at arms length from their nearest challenger and will be looking to maintain this during the midweek fixtures. A few more victories against the sides below them and they can expect to enjoy their debut season in the Europa League group stages, granted Inhulets don’t win the cup!
Mariupol are also honing in on a Europa qualifying place and are looking to bounce back after their narrow loss to Dynamo last time out. With Zubkov aiming to maintain the goals tally that he has been bringing in in recent games, this is looking to be a hard one to call. Goals apiece but no outright winner!
Shakhtar Donetsk v Dynamo Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: The fifth instalment of this fixture this season (after the Super Cup, the first UPL cycle home / away and in the Cup) is prone to be as feisty as the one’s before it. This game in particular has more riding on it for Dynamo than it does Shakhtar.
The current UPL leaders, who already boast a commanding 7-point advantage on Kyiv, know that they can afford to lose both of their remaining El Clasico fixtures this season and still win the title by a point, as long as they pick up maximum points elsewhere.
Dynamo will be desperate to inflict revenge on their arch rivals for dumping them out of the Ukrainian Cup a fortnight ago and mount the pressure on The Miners by closing up the gap at the top! Carlos De Pena, Dynamo’s new free agent signing could make his debut, whilst Tsyhankov is in top form for club and country and will be looking to add to that by attempting to leave a mark in a big game for the first time in a while.
As these two sides lock horns, it feels like it is going to be a tight affair and Shakhtar will feel the missing Marlos in their starting side. A juicy score draw awaits. 2-2
MATCHDAY 25 FINAL SCORE: TBC
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