After beating Buducnost by a resounding scoreline in the last round, Zorya were rewarded with a tie against CSKA Sofia. Viktor Skripnyk, remains unbeaten at the helm in competitive games as his side came from behind on the weekend to draw with Dnipro-1. 

Promising signs were seen especially in the second half, when the Luhansk side were well and truly dominating. It bodes well for them, that squad morale is high and recent results have been overwhelmingly positive, even if the performances aren’t 100% there yet.

Zorya have taken a strong squad with them to the Bulgarian capital, but are missing their key man and prominent goalscorer, in Artem Hromov. It will instead fall upon the likes of creative midfielders Liedniev, Kocherhin (who scored on the weekend) and a returning Vladlen Yurchenko, who missed out last weeks 2nd round 2nd leg. 

One thing that is apparent is that goals are still relatively hard to come by, despite the progression in the team’s new attacking style under Skripnyk. Nazario Rusyn, who joined on loan is available and may even make his first appearance for the club. 

CSKA finished 2nd in the league last season but are far from anything too special. If Zorya are able to keep former Celtic and Charlton man, Tony Watt quiet and reduce the influence of former Plymouth Argyle midfielder Graham Carey, then they should expect to come back from Sofia with a positive result. 

A lot of Zorya’s team have Europa League experience and should be able to use that experience to better a side whose players, until recently, were mulling around in the lower tiers of English football. 

An away goal will be essential in this one, with Zorya’s hosts whilst inexperienced, largely unpredictable. Both Zorya’s season and Ukraine’s UEFA coefficient rankings depend on progression to that group stage!

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