M

Ukrainian Football Round Up

The past week has been rather subdued in the world of Ukrainian football. After the whirlwind that ensued in the previous with Dynamo’s management news, there wasn’t anywhere near as much off the pitch drama!

However, we DID see another one bite the dust in the UPL managerial rat race. Unsurprisingly, Julio Cesar became the second head coach to lose his job so far this season.

Mirroring Frank De Boer’s stint in charge of Crystal Palace two years ago, Olimpik had seen enough after the accumulation of ZERO points from four games. This action was always a question of when rather than if, even before the season had started.

Nobody has quite been able to match the continuity and stability that Roman Sanzhar brought to the role. So much so, that the former manager is seen as back up, should the club not be successful in luring in other targets.

Julio Cesar’s relieving of duties came after a 3-1 home loss to Karpaty Lviv; relegation rivals of last season! Karpaty played well once they settled into the game. Many Karpaty fans were signalling the fact that it was from this moment, four games in, that the season has well and truly begun!

Olimpik’s Fabinho got himself a red after 24 minutes. The challenge resulted in a penalty, which Nesterov duly had saved. However, he made no mistakes with the rebound. Politylo managed to score a penalty to reduce the lead but it wasn’t enough as Nesterov grabbed his second to make it 3-1. Karpaty avenged their collapse from the same scoreline in this tie at the end of last season.

Vorskla and Dnipro-1 drew their second consecutive games as they played out a drab 1-1. In a much changed line up for the visitors, seeing many of their promising forward line missing; Dnipro-1 were still able to open the scoring.

Chychykov got the goal but the newly promoted side were unable to hold out for too long. None other than the anti-goalscoring striker Yuri Kolomoyets, scores his first goal of the season and just his THIRD in a period stretching over a year and a half! Serhiy Kravchenko rounded off proceedings by getting a straight red at the very death!

Desna and Kolos then met. Absolutely nothing was able to separate the sides as they settled for a goalless draw. Regardless of the drab game, both sides have started extremely well to UPL 19/20. They sit in 3rd and 4th (as things stand) on seven points apiece!

Saturday’s final scheduled game between Mariupol and Dynamo was rearranged. This was to ensure that both sides were able to prepare for their potential European play offs accordingly! However, as the decision was made ahead of their second leg 3rd round ties; UPL didn’t foresee a catastrophic collapse from both sides.

It shouldn’t detract from the fact that the UPL & UAF do aim to help facilitate the progression of their sides in Europe. It’s just a shame that the teams are unable to take advantage of such measures and help themselves.

On Sunday, Shakhtar travelled to Lviv to inflict another defeat on a side from the Western Ukraine city. Shakhtar scored two well worked goals in the first half thanks to Dentinho and Marlos which set them up for their 2-0 victory.

As was expected, Shakhtar dominated the game but just couldn’t extend their lead in the second half. Alan Patrick missed a penalty to round the game off. Shakhtar are currently at cruising speed and fully justify their bold start of 4 wins from 4. Don’t see a team in the league that can seriously trouble them until the fixture reversal when Dynamo get another go!

The final game of the weekend was quite the cracker! Zorya played Oleksandriya in a battle between last season’s 5th and 3rd. Star man Lednev was kept on the bench along with the in form Nazariy Rusyn. Their absence, alongside a completely incoherent defence, played a detrimental role in the team’s defeat. Oleksandriya set up to play on the counter, something Skripnyk’s men do themselves.

As a result of Zorya aiming to play on the front foot, it creates gaps at the back. These were duly exploited by Kyrylo Kovalets. His first goal was a well worked moved, that Zorya just didn’t do well enough to close down the player. His second however saw a man possessed. In Bale-esque fashion Kovalets chased down a loose ball from half way, shrugged off a defender before cutting in and finishing past Shevchenko in goal.

Lednev was introduced with 20 minutes to go but it seemed to be too little too late when he got a consolation in the dying moments. He really makes the Zorya attack tick. It doesn’t seem that Skripnyk knows what his best XI is as of yet. The game ended 2-1 to the visitors.

Zorya were in action once again on Thursday and succumbed to a disappointing 3-1 defeat during the first leg of their UEL play off tie versus Espanyol. Zorya started the game cautiously but grew into the first half as time wore on.

Zorya opened the scoring with a sweeping counter attack. A lofted through ball was perfectly touched down and then latched onto by Hromov, who took it to the edge of the Espanyol box. Having created space, fellow forward Kabaev was slightly too far ahead of the ball. As a result he duly back heel cushioned the ball into the path of Kocherhin whose curved piledriver ended up in the back of the net. The away goal was there. If city rivals Barcelona & Messi had scored Kocherhin’s opener, then people wouldn’t have stopped talking about it for weeks.

Enough about the goal. Unfortunately, the half time whistle came far too quickly. Once Zorya re-emerged they looked like a completely different team. They sat back and invited the Espanyol pressure.

The hosts hit the bar, before ex Shakhtar striker Facundo Ferrerya levelled the game. Ironically enough, Zorya Luhansk are the team he has scored the most goals against in his career; 9 for Shakhtar, 1 for Espanyol.

Not too long after, with their backs against the wall and the defence looking like a rabble, Zorya conceded a penalty. Shevchenko pulled off a superb save to keep Granero out but it was almost all for nothing.

Lopez, then Vargas made it 3-1 on the night and the tie looks like it has got beyond the Luhansk side. Of course they still have the slightest of chances next week, but the odds look slim especially with Joel Abu Hanna and Cheberko as a centre back partnership!

PREDICTION TIME

SATURDAY – UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY 🇺🇦

Kolos v Vorskla

Kolos kick off a festive weekend in Ukraine by offering a sporting alternative to the various ways that city dwellers and tourists will be celebrating Ukrainian Independence Day! They welcome Vorskla to the Obolon Arena hoping to continue their rather positive start to the season. After another point was added to the season tally out on the road last week, the (travelling) home fans will be looking for something to cheer about.

Goals are coming at a premium at the moment, with players from across the pitch needed to contribute to the goalscoring effort. Lysenko will be looking to end his duct and prove that he’s a viable alternative to last season’s injured top scorer, Bondarenko.

Vorskla, also go into this game feeling optimistic. Yuri Kolomoyets will have been ecstatic to have got a goal versus Dnipro-1. Will this spark a bit of a goalscoring run for the out of luck and down on confidence striker? This game could really go one of two ways, goals galore or an extremely tedious stalemate. Due to the festive nature of the weekend, we’ll go for the former, more positive outlook. 2-1

Oleksandriya v Desna

Oleksandriya have really impressed in their past two matches. They’re beginning to get back into the groove of things after a difficult start. One of last season’s key men Kyrylo Kovalets, looked like a man possessed last weekend and his contribution will be key to unlocking a stubborn Desna defence. If they can defeat a top three chasing Zorya side, then they will certainly be confident of getting the better of Desna.

However, Desna should not be underestimated. They’re showing the early hallmarks of a side determined to make the top six. After a cruel last minute collapse after the winter break prevented them from making it last season, they’re settling into UPL football nicely after a solid season under their belt.

As Oleksandriya seem to be coming into a pomp at the moment and with the home advantage, they should have the edge in this one as they continue to build up to their debut UEL campaign. This certainly won’t be a classic. 1-0

Dynamo v Olimpik

Here’s the game everyone has been anticipating for over a week and a half. The Mykhaylychenko era starts now. Will this latest incarnation of Lobanovskyism prove a viable replacement to the Khatchevicharian football that Dynamo fans have been put through for the past few seasons?

Nobody knows how the ex Dynamo player and manager will set his side up in his ‘second’ debut as coach. It’s unlikely to feature anything too off-piste, potentially favouring a similar side to that which started against Brugge in Kyiv. The line up is not the major concern, because the players certainly have the ability to remain competitive against Shakhtar.

It’s more pressing to see an organised side that knows exactly what each player’s roles and is following a game plan. This would be the first expectation from onlookers. Granted it may take a few games to embed this into a team that has been neglected tactically in the recent past (this is assuming Mykhaylychenko has a style of play that he wants to implement). There really is no better game to start a second stint against than versus a ‘manager less’ and bottom of the table Olimpik.

Olimpik go into this game having lost their first four games of the season. Brazilian manager Julio Cesar‘s stint in charge turned out exactly as we and many others predicted. His path was largely similar to that of former Middlesbrough star, Fabrizio Ravanelli. No wins after after a number of games, with the team showing little signs for improvement.

Olimpik signed ex Valencia man Ivan Zotko last week and will be hoping he can help out their so far hapless defence. Ihor Klymovksy has been put in temporary charge whilst the Donetsk side reportedly chase an unnamed Turkish manager to replace Cesar.

It still doesn’t look good for the last placed club and a resounding Dynamo victory is expected. It will not only give Mykhaylychenko the perfect start but also immediately instil the mirage that Dynamo are already set on a new course. Time will be the best measure of that. 4-0

SUNDAY

Karpaty v Zorya

Karpaty will be buoyed by last week’s win over Olimpik as they prepare to host a probably distracted Europa League chasing Zorya Luhansk.

Karpaty showed real prowess and resoluteness last weekend to go against the grain of last season, where they routinely capitulated in the final 20 minutes of games and took an age to get going in the first half. However the fact they held on and even extended their lead after conceding whilst 2-0 up, will put them in good stead versus Zorya.

Zorya will be aiming to get back to winning ways after losing to Oleksandriya in Matchday 3 & to Espanyol in the Europa. However, it is highly likely that a select few of the team that played in Spain in midweek will be rested for the return fixture with the group stages not out of sight just yet.

It’s been apparent that Zorya have been suffering slight fatigue issues in recent weeks. That mainly being due to the fact that the side has played two games a week since the UPL season started. It will be down to Karpaty to run them off the park, and exploit the imbalances that Zorya currently possess in midfield.

Skripnyk did attempt to resolve that versus Espanyol with personnel changes but it still led to a second half collapse. With the likeliness of resting first teamers and a lack of coherent box to box midfielders, this certainly will be an area where Karpaty can look to gain an advantage from.

Neither side’s defence is perfect either, with Zorya’s showcasing this fact in the Espanyol second half. As a result, goals are to be expected. Something still doesn’t let us wholly trust Karpaty. Years of let downs have turned us into pessimists. Will be a cracking game though. 2-2

Shakhtar v Mariupol

This game’s result seems to be set in stone way ahead of kick off. It’s the traditional match up between the two Donbas sides, dubbed the Sister Club Derby. The Azov coast visitors receive a substantial amount of players from the Donetsk side on a yearly basis either on loan or through the eventual signing. As a result, the ensuing fixtures between the parent and loanee clubs always sees the former side come out on top. It brings a new meaning to the phrase ‘routine victory.’

Some may say it’s a form of match fixing, but ‘officially’ there’s never been a case made that Mariupol have thrown the game on purpose largely because Shakhtar’s squad is so far superior. On top of this, Mariupol are unable to field any Shakhtar loan stars in their line up, which weakens them further.

Mariupol are struggling for goals already this season, so having the likes of Vakula ineligible will be detrimental. Shakhtar have already shown that they’re taking the league by the scruff of the neck whilst they free of distractions.

Junior Moraes has not hit the heights of last season yet in the goalscoring stakes but he has a perfect opportunity to notch a few in this one. Likewise, Marlos who has been in tremendous form so far will be hopping to add to his own tally. A walk in the park. 5-0

MONDAY

Dnipro-1 v Lviv

Dnipro-1’s somewhat turbulent start to the start could look to calm down against FC Lviv this weekend. The youngsters that have been hyped up by ourselves still have some adapting to do. A majority of them were benched or not even included in last week’s Matchday squad.

Inexperience does come at a cost sometimes and their first few games in the UPL have hit them hard despite the promising start.

The weak back line has remained problematic at times and an ageing spine doesn’t help matters either. Captain Serhiy Kravchenko did not lead by example and will now be serving a two match ban.

One thing Dnipro are able to account themselves for are goals, whilst they don’t score a lot of them, they are able to finish when it matters. They’re strong at set pieces too but will need to improve their general play if they want any chance of making the top six this season.

Lviv on the other hand, sit second bottom of the table. Albeit, two of their four fixtures so far have been against the leagues top dogs, Dynamo and Shakhtar, they can’t have this form continue to slip. In a fixture, where they will feel that they have a chance for a victory, it will be interesting to see how their attackers fare without the departed Bruno Duarte in the ranks.

China, Leo Tavares and Pernambucho are the stand out Brazilians that will be aiming to add to the few goals they have between them already this season. With Dnipro-1’s defence looking suspect at times, they have a serious chance of doing so.

Dnipro-1 to end their winless run at the behest of Lviv. No clean sheets though. 2-1

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: