It’s a big week ahead for Ukrainian football. The UPL goes into Matchday 9 with Shakhtar looking to continue their 100% record in the league. Meanwhile Dynamo, Desna and Zorya are out to try and leapfrog the others in the battle for second!

Then after the weekend, we have Shakhtar travelling to Milan to face Malinovksyi’s Atalanta in the Champions League! Then in the Europa League, Dynamo fly to Switzerland to come up against group outsiders Lugano. Then Oleksandriya host another side full of Ukrainian contingent as Gent come to Arena Lviv!

Ukrainian Football Round Up

The past week has been a relatively quiet one for domestic Ukrainian football! No managerial changes to speak of and nothing too controversial either! If you want some real drama, then check out the political arena!

Last week’s action started on a Friday also! Dnipro-1 welcomed Karpaty to the Dnipro Arena and comfortably beat them 2-0 thanks to a Supryaha double.

Karpaty then went on to draw with Inhulets in the Cup and subsequently lost in the penalty shoot out. This is now the fifth year in a row where the side has been knocked out by second tier opposition! It’s also the second year in a row where Inhulets have taken them as a scalp! Dnipro-1 on the other hand progressed easily to the next round as they saw off Agrobiznes 3-1 away.

Olimpik Donetsk then picked up their first win of the season as they defeated Lviv and moved to within a point of ‘safety’. It looks like crisis point for Lviv at the moment as Mazyar’s appointment has not brought much joy three games in. Gomez’s men look to be getting back to normal in front of goal, something the side had struggled with in the early stages of the season!

Lviv did beat Bukovyna in the Cup but this win can’t be much of a representative of form in the league. Olimpik also progressed as they just about saw off Kremin in a 3-2 thriller.

Zorya then took on Mariupol, in a game many anticipated the home side to claim a victory in. Unfortunately after two red cards (one a piece) in the first half, the game fizzled out. Zorya continued to threaten even without the sent off Budkivsky but were unable to break down the resolute Mariupol back line.

Desna were then in action, hoping to end Shakhtar’s win streak. However despite beating Dynamo the week before, Shakhtar narrowly edged it. Desna will count themselves unlucky as they actually looked more promising going forward and caused Shakhtar some serious problems. However, Marlos was on hand to bring an eight consecutive win for the Miners in the league and they remain comfortably top of the table!

Dynamo Kyiv, buoyed by their Europa League victory went into this game in a more confident tone than they had done in recent UPL games. They ended up winning 5-0 in a scoreline which flatters Dynamo more, with Vorskla being extremely poor and uninspired a big factor in the scoreline. Tsyhankov showed us a performance that reiterated his quality, maybe he has finally clicked back into gear after a slow start to the campaign. He got a goal and two assists as Shabanov, De Pena (2) and even Besiedin got in on the goalscoring action. However the win came at a big cost. Mykyta Burda came off with a serious knee injury and the player has required surgery. It’s likely he will be out for a lengthy period. A big blow for Dynamo’s back line and for Ukraine’s wider squad!

Dynamo were then in action again in midweek as they travelled to the Azov coast to face Mariupol. This game in hand was carried over from Matchday 4, due to each side’s European commitments (at the time). The game will not go down in the memory as it took until the 91st minute for a serious moment to occur. Khudzhamov, in the Mariupol goal, pulled off a few good saves in the game but there was nothing to suggest that a goal was on its way, for either side. Then at the very death, Benjamin Verbic, returning to the starting line up after a suspension, grabbed a last gasp header to cruelly deny another point for the hosts! Dynamo extend their winning run to three games and moved level on points with second placed Desna!

Oleksiy’s at the wheel? Slightly too early for that yet but the past week has been positive enough. Still a lot to work on!

Oleksandriya then closed the weekend off as they drew in a 1-1 fixture against Kolos. This ensured the league remained extremely tight across the board.

Then in the Cup, a second string Oleksandriya side needed penalties to progress to the next round against Dinaz Vyshohrad after a goalless draw.

Now all sides can ready themselves for a big weekend and for some week ahead!

PREDICTION TIME

Shakhtar Donetsk v Vorskla Poltava

Shakhtar start Matchday 9 off for us with a home tie against Vorskla! After their 8th consecutive win of the season, nobody is expecting that run to stop on Friday.

Shakhtar were made to work against a well oiled Desna last week and they will count themselves lucky that they came away from that game with all three points.

The occasional lapses in defensive concentration still needs working on, especially with the Champions League returning for Matchday 2 next week.

However, Shakhtar’s opponents look to be in a bit of a rut and as such will be not looking forward to facing the Miners on their ‘home’ patch. Vorskla were completely toothless against Dynamo in Matchday 8.

Yes, it should be noted that Dynamo have suddenly found a bit of form but they’re not a completely different side to the one that was winless for six in a row. The result was more damning for Vorskla, who literally let Dynamo score five unanswered goals.

As is the case in football, you hardly ever see a top flight team get completely demolished two games in a row. But for some reason, as the opponents are Shakhtar this time it could get ugly. If Dynamo can get five, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see either Shakhtar match or out score their rivals.

However, with one eye on the UCL, Shakhtar’s intensity is likely to drop off in the later stages, with subs and cautionary measures. Also with their salient lead at the top of the table, it’s just less essential to go all out in this one. 4-0

Karpaty Lviv v Kolos Kovalivka

The past week was pretty devastating for Karpaty as they paid homage to poor performances of seasons gone by. Their loss to Dnipro-1 was uninspiring to say the least and even with the extra bit of rest (the UPL game was played last Friday) the Green-Whites were unable to get the better of new bogey team Inhulets in the cup!

The fallout from this cup defeat has been pretty severe with many criticising the owner’s decision to sack Chyzhevsky once again.

However it will be interesting to see how they bounce back this weekend. They face a relatively comfortable Kolos. Newly promoted and getting the results when it matters. Their football at times isn’t the most appealing to watch but they’re hard working which helps them to get stuck into games!

They’ve not travelled particularly well so far this season, so that may play a factor. Karpaty have had a few impressive performances at home but have still only picked up limited points in those matches.

This game is unlikely to be a goal fest, with Kolos relying on the manager’s son, Denys Kostyshyn as their sole outlet for goals in recent games. Meanwhile, for the amount of attacking talent Karpaty has on paper, it never ends up transferring onto the pitch. Hustulyak can be dangerous but his end product leaves a lot to be desired and Ponde up front seems to be rather lethargic of late.

It’s going to be a tight one. Although, both side’s defences are prone to conceding. 1-1

Oleksandriya v FC Lviv

Oleksandriya prepare for their first Europa League home game of the campaign as they host the lowly Lviv.

The hosts come in as big favourites with the visitors experiencing an atrocious run of form. The start to Mazyar’s Lviv managerial career has not gone as intended at all.

If anything the side are performing worse than they did under Blavatsky. At least under the previous manager, the side had faced a few of the top clubs. Now they risk dropping into the automatic relegation spot with Olimpik improving.

Oleksandriya will feel satisfied with their campaign so far. They showed that they have the ability to get themselves back into games when behind and will once again use this as a warm up for Thursday, when they will face the Belgian-Ukrainian side KAA Gent!

Albeit, Lviv will pose much less of a threat than their Europa opponents, but it will test their concentration and grit into getting a job done against a beatable side but who even so concede a low amount of goals.

This won’t be a rout but it will be comfortable for the home team. 2-0

Mariupol v Desna Chernihiv

After a disappointing last minute loss to Dynamo in midweek, Mariupol remain at home as they welcome high flying Desna to the Donbas.

Mariupol played quite well against Dynamo, in what was quite a forgettable match. However, they were unable to hold on and now no longer have a ‘game in hand’ to count on as a potential points boost.

They entertain the surprise package (for now) Desna who also were unlucky to taste defeat in their previous UPL game against the leaders, Shakhtar! Chernihiv caused the Miners problems and looked quite comfortable keeping the top team at bay, barring the goal of course.

They’ll take that performance more positively than Mariupol will from there’s especially as they seem to have a number of players who can score goals when it comes down to it. Mariupol, for all their defensive qualities, look rather lost without a solid goalscorer up front. The loss of Fomin has been detrimental to their early season form.

Without the midweek game and extra rest ahead of the bumper journey from Northern Ukraine to the South East, Desna should feel relatively fresh.

They’ll return to winning ways in this one but it won’t be too straightforward. 1-2

Dynamo Kyiv v Dnipro-1

Dynamo are looking to make it four wins on the bounce as they play Dnipro-1 for the first time in the league.

Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko’s side look to be slowly but surely arising from the crisis they found themselves in a little over two weeks ago.

They’ve shown that they can do it in style, as their 5-0 thrashing demonstrated but also be able to conjure up just one vital moment in a game to win it at the death. The win in midweek against Mariupol was far from a good performance but they vitally got the job done. That won’t get them through other games this season but considering the disjointed over 8 hour journey, it puts the side in high spirits before Dnipro-1.

Initially, this game would have been considered a write off for the visitors as two of their key men were on loan from Dynamo. However, according to reports U20 World Cup winner Vladyslav Supryaha has stated that he is available to play in this fixture. Buletsa is the other player on loan, but no comment has been made regarding his eligibility as of yet.

Dnipro-1’s youthful forward line up if completed by Buletsa is likely to cause Dynamo problems. Mariupol were a relatively straight forward test, threatening little in the final third, rather defending well and attempting to control the midfield.

Dnipro-1 will be able to counter more efficiently this weekend and if Dynamo’s games against Shakhtar or Desna are anything to go by, they can be exploited against especially down the flanks.

This is the most intriguing fixture of Matchday 9 and it should be expected to be entertaining. Fortunately for Dynamo, Dnipro-1 are not too coherent at the back and as such goals are available if the home team’s forwards have their finishing boots on.

Dynamo will also have one eye on their Europa League so will prefer not to be chasing for a win into the final minutes. Dnipro-1’s defensive complacencies will cost them. 3-1

Olimpik Donetsk v Zorya Luhansk

In the final game of Matchday 9, it’s another Donbas Derby in exile. This time Vicente Gomez’s resurgent Olimpik aim to get another positive results against Zorya Luhansk.

Olimpik have shown marked improvements since their new Spanish manager’s appointment. They look to be more coherent in their build up play and they’re once again scoring goals.

Their 3-2 away win at Kremin in the Cup in midweek will further boost the team’s morale after a vital ‘six pointer’ victory against current automatic relegation spot rivals Lviv last weekend. They now have the opportunity to leapfrog their Western Ukrainian counterparts as they sit just a point behind them in the table.

However it’s not going to be too easy to get a result against the visiting team. Zorya may have been shut out by Mariupol last time round but when you lose an attacking player to a red card it’s always going to be difficult to penetrate against a traditionally defensive side.

Fortunately, Olimpik still showcase porousness at the back and the Zorya attacking line, especially with the suspended but also lethargic Budkivsky out of the picture. Zorya should be able to inject more fluidity into their attacks, with their transitional play benefitting more from players who are better facing goal than holding up play.

Expecting an interesting game but anything other than a Zorya win will be a negative for the visitors who need to stay toe to toe with a resurgent Dynamo. This is a Dynamo that has actually gone above them in the league after their midweek win!

Lednev and Rusyn will be key in this victory. 0-2

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