There will certainly be goals in this one. Arsenal look to have the edge in terms of quality thanks to their loanees and going on recent performances they should have what it takes to overcome the league’s bottom side! 2-1
WHAT DO WE SAY TO RELEGATION? NOT TODAY: MATCHDAY 28
THE UKRAINIAN FOOTBALL ROUND UP:
The UPL in parts feels like it’s already on its holidays. The Championship Group is certainly in part experiencing the adverse effects of Shakhtar strolling at the top even more so now after Dynamo’s draw with Oleksandriya last Saturday.
This was just one of many shocks from the previous gameweek but this result was largely warranted and even expected as Dynamo have markedly dropped in performance intensity in recent games. Runners up is a given for them and it’s looking more and more inevitable that Oleksandriya will be in the Europa League group stages next season (barring the biggest underdog story win in the Ukrainian Cup Final for Inhulets).
The Ukrainian Leicester have put in performances bettering that of a mediocre Dynamo for large parts of this season but ultimately their lack of experience at this top level and deficiency in the type of player calibre that Dynamo boast, have been their undoing in random blips against lower quality sides. However, after Zorya Luhansk succumbed at home to Mariupol on the same day, a few more points should be enough for the historic achievement!
Zorya look to be scrapping with their Donbas neighbours for that fourth spot and that Europa League qualifying position. That is currently as exciting as the the top half of the table gets before de facto Champions Shakhtar get crowned within a couple more match-days. The league leaders routed FC Lviv in resounding fashion as they scored 5 past the ‘lucky to be here, just here for the ride’ sixth placed side. It was Shakhtar’s first game in a while where they scored more than a couple of goals, with some fringe players taking the opportunity to impress Fonseca; notably Kovalenko and Bolbat and a few of the younger Brazilians.
Putting the ‘Medal & Europe Group’ to one side, it’s all happening in the bottom section of the league!
Usually this is a drab affair, featuring a whipping boy that is woefully unable to cut it in the division (some feat that) and some others just couch surfing into obscurity until the end of the season where they go again! However this year has been refreshingly different! The sides circling at the bottom, who were terrible until the split have finally decided to start fighting for their survival.
We have a REAL relegation battle on our hands here. The shocks came thick and fast last week as Chornomorets and their out of the blue winter Icelandic signing, Vilhjamsson, have suddenly begun to play football. They came from behind twice against ‘Relegation Group’ leaders Desna to beat them 4-2 on Chernihiv’s own patch!
Meanwhile, Arsenal Kyiv who have also found their form since cutting out the highest quality of opponents from their schedules, saw off Karpaty in Lviv. Maryan Shved was sent off and Karpaty have slipped deeper into the relegation play off spots as Olimpik got another point after drawing with Vorskla. Karpaty are looking ropey with Arsenal now just one point behind them and unless the Green and Whites pick themselves up, they could seriously see themselves risk playing in the second division.
There are some massive games in Relegation Group this week, check our predictions and previews below to see who we are backing to come out on top…
A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.
Mariupol v FC Lviv
Todos’ prediction:Mariupol looked up for the final few legs of the season as they beat Zorya last week. The ‘Shakhtar reserves’ need all the points they can get to overtake Zorya and this fixture looks the most winnable of those left for them.
Lviv, who have not impressed since the start of the Championship Group ties, were pummeled v Shakhtar and have seriously struggled for goals during the later parts of the campaign. Mariupol’s youth to overturn the Lviv samba stars. 2-0
Dynamo Kyiv v Zorya Luhansk
Todos’ prediction: This fixture is a repeat of the 2019 UPL re-opener which saw Dynamo begin the calendar year in spectacular 5-0 fashion. However after that it largely went downhill in both Europe and all but ended their title challenge last week.
Zorya have certainly improved since that thrashing but are still a shadow of themselves from seasons’ past. It’s likely that this game will be a much tighter affair this time round, with Dynamo looking like they’re already on the beach and looking to hand Shakhtar the title themselves.
Dynamo have got the squad on paper in this one and as a result they should have just enough to defeat their opponents despite the largely ‘non competitive circumstances’. 2-1
Shakhtar Donetsk v Oleksandriya
Todos’ prediction: Shakhtar are strolling to the title. They just keep winning, keep getting clean sheets and even turned up with the goals last week.
Oleksandriya won’t be a Lviv like rollover but the Miners are almost definitely going to have too much for their visitors.
Oleksandriya will certainly give it a good go after their draw against Dynamo but it’s just impossible to see anything beyond another home win, regardless of the injuries Shakhtar have or the squad Fonseca plays. Moraes to add another to his tally. 1-0
Arsenal Kyiv v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: The bottom two meet for the final time this season in what is yet again another six pointer! Arsenal and Chornomorets have stunned over the past couple of weeks and even more so, one of these two sides has a real chance to move out of the bottom two for the first time this campaign! Arsenal are only one point behind Karpaty and have been resilient at the Valery Lobanovskiy stadium since the league split.
Vakulenko has been on serious hot form as is Chornomorets’ Icelandic forward with 3 goals in two games. Chornomorets will be buoyed by their comeback win over Desna last time as all the sides in the bottom half continue to say to the God of Relegation, ‘Not Today!’
Desna Chernihiv v Olimpik Donetsk
Todos’ prediction:Desna have been off the boil for the past fortnight with some seriously dubious results. They need to pick up a positive result somewhere as they welcome a rejuvenated Olimpik. Desna look slightly suspect at the moment due to recent performances.
Olimpik have come into their own recently as they have settled under caretaker manager Klimovsky since Vyacheslav Shevchuk’s departure. Dehtaryov and Dieye finally finding their shooting boots. Olimpik have finally found some goals in the side too so they will be sniffing around for it. I see neither side taking advantage of the other with Olimpik adding another draw to their previous 11 in the league so far! 1-1
Vorskla Poltava v Karpaty Lviv
Todos’ prediction:Vorskla will be up for this one! Not only is their kryptonite this season, Maryan Shved suspended for the visitors but Vorskla have finally picked up some positive form! They will be out to avenge their consecutive 4-0 defeats against the Lviv side!
Karpaty go into this game, just a point above once bottom Arsenal Kyiv and 4 points ahead of current last placed Chornomorets. Lviv started the Relegation group campaign in strong and fashion and it looked like they were going to comfortably stay up and even challenge for the top spot, however it began to quickly unravel.
What’s more confusing is that Karpaty have a strong squad of multi national players but it seems that they just can’t click. Now they stare the real prospect of relegation in the face. Vorskla face their opponents just at the right time to take revenge. 3 points to remain in Poltava! 2-1
MATCHDAY 28 FINAL SCORE: TBC
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