Oleksandriya host a Ukrainian infused KAA Gent side in their first ever ‘home’ Europa League group stage tie!
Tonight’s game takes place at Arena Lviv, a few hundred miles away from Oleksandriya’s real home stadium, NSK Nika in Kirovohrad oblast. However, this venue did not meet the UEFA standards for infrastructure, both structurally and logistically.
Hence the hosts opted for the city that they thought would most likely get behind another Ukrainian side. With Karpaty nowhere near the level of European football for the foreseeable future, their bet is likely to pay off.
On the pitch, Oleksandriya will be optimistic that they can steal a result on this big occasion. After a brave display in Wolfsburg a fortnight ago, where despite being well beaten, getting a goal and showing a good account of themselves will be helpful experience ahead of tonight’s encounter!
Since that loss to the German side, Oleksandriya have drawn one and won, sitting fourth in the UPL. The defensive displays have been impressive of late and if they are able to stifle the potent Gent attack then a result could well materialise.
Sharan is likely to field a similar side to the first group game; maybe swapping out one of the midfielders for the more attacking minded Kovalets. Bezborodko has impressed more than Sitalo up top of late. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start after a goal on the weekend.
Meanwhile, the visitors boast a wealth of Ukrainian talent. ‘The Gent Tryzub’ as they have been dubbed. Current star man is one time Oleksandriya forward, Roman Yaremchuk. His blistering start to the season, caught the eye of Roma before the window closed but nothing was able to progress. Roman has scored 9 in 12 games and will put nostalgia to one side when he steps out in his hometown stadium.
He scored twice here for the National Team back in June, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him do that again. Ihor Plastun, has travelled but has just returned from injury, so it will be touch and go whether he begins the game at the back. Roman Bezus, the final Ukrainian is likely to start on the bench.
Many Ukrainians will be in two minds as to who to cheer on tonight. However as always it would be quite some achievement to see Oleksandriya pick up surprising some points in this group, not only for their fans but also for Ukrainian coefficent rankings!