The UPL convenes once more ahead of the International break with some blockbuster fixtures! It’s Matchday 10 and everything is to play for (apart from top spot!)

Ukrainian Weekly Round Up

Shakhtar got us started last week as they rested a heap of players in their game against Vorskla. It didn’t make too much of a difference though as Konoplyanka helped his side to a 4-0 victory on his first start for the club! He marked it by converting penalty along with Valeriy Bondar who also celebrate his first goal for the club! Alan Patrick and Moraes got the others!

Shakhtar then travelled to Milan to face Atalanta. They’re playing European games at the San Siro whilst their stadium gets renovated. It was an exciting game that Atalanta edged in the first half. However, Pyatov heroics ensured his penalty save from Illicic meant he moved joint second in the all time UCL saved penalties record list. He’s now only behind Casillas!

However his mastery was undone, by himself no doubt. He came flapping for a cross, got nowhere near it and Zapata was able to head into an empty net. However, Moraes was able to equalise before half time with more explosive speed and then a strong finish to first past Atalanta’s keeper.

Malinovksyi came on and had chances but he was unable to help his side take the lead. It was heading to a draw but then in the 5th minute of added time, Dodo raced through before playing in Solomon who duly finished and sent the Donetsk side into ecstasy! A big win for the Miners and for Ukrainian coefficient!

The other games on Saturday saw Kolos travel to Karpaty. Smyrnyi opened the scoring before Nazaryna pulled one back for the Green Whites. However, Volkov was able to squeeze a goal in before half time and the second half was spared of any real action. A big win for Kolos on the road whilst a third consecutive defeat in a week sees Karpaty start to slip into their annual decline!

Oleksandriya were then next up as they entertained Karpaty’s city rivals Lviv. They saw them off with ease thanks to goals from Banada and Bezborodko. This performance put them in good stead ahead of their Europa League tie against Gent.

The game at Arena Lviv didn’t get off to the best of starts after Depoitre opened the scoring for the visitors. However, Oleksandriya rallied back and had a good few chances of their own. Then in the second half they were by far the better side, they managed to expertly stifle Gent’s Yaremchuk and kept him quiet before equalising through a tap in rebound goal that involved some lovely build up play. Sitalo was the scorer and his goals picked the Kirovohrad oblast side a historic first ever point in European competition!

Desna then beat Mariupol away. Whilst the result in itself was not surprising, the scoreline with which they did it was emphatic. Khlyobas and Fillipov both got braces as the the Chernihiv team continue their unprecedented stay in second. It was 4-0 come Full Time.

Dynamo Kyiv then welcomed Dnipro-1 in the River Derby. This game was about as uneventful as it gets with the goals bringing any sort of respite to the suffering fans… of both sides. Dnipro-1 showed little and had minimal chances on goal. It was thanks to a nice worked goal from Verbic and a Tsyhankov penalty.

Unfortunately when it came to the UCL, both these match winners decided not to turn up. Both were highly wasteful and Dynamo were unable to carve out anything serious against a Lugano side who were bottom of the Swiss league and on a winless streak stretching seven games. The mask seems to be slipping after a few positive performances, same old Dynamo showing their head once more…

The final UPL game of MD 9 saw Zorya visit Kyiv to take on displaced Olimpik. Many were expecting a comfortable win for the away team but didn’t expect the onslaught that did eventually occur. Nazariy Rusyn scored a well taken brace, whilst Yurchenko, Lednev and Kabaev also got in on the act to complete the 5-0 drubbing and end league proceedings for another week!

PREDICTION PREVIEW

Vorskla Poltava v Mariupol

Two of last week’s whipping boys meet in the opening showdown of the weekend. It looks to be crisis point once again for Vorskla as they stare down a run of four consecutive losses.

An aggregate loss of nine goals to nil against Dynamo and Shakhtar in recent weeks may not be a true show of the team’s ability but it certainly won’t help morale.

The defence has resembled as much of a sieve , conceding on average 2 goals a game; ranking second worst only to bottom side Olimpik. Also news of the owner being ordered to payback money to a bank doesn’t assist matters with rumours circulating about players not being paid.

This game really could lead to any sort of scoreline, with Mariupol far from being at their best in recent games. However, their rescheduled cup win against Rukh in midweek should get the side going ahead of this away trip. Mariupol find goals hard to come by to, but their defensive structure is certainly more disciplined.

It’s difficult to see a goalfest here, but the away side look like they’re in a slightly better situation to take the points. 0-1

Desna Chernihiv v Olimpik Donetsk

The world is currently Desna’s oyster at the moment. They’ve faced the traditional ‘Big Two’ and now can look forward to seeing off the rest of the table. After their 4-0 demolition in Mariupol last Saturday; one can only imagine how they will fare against the league’s bottom side.

Fillipov is in the form of his life at the moment, leading the line with Khlyobas. They will be looking to add to their brace’s from last weekend as they come up against an Olimpik defence that shipped FIVE against Zorya. Fortunately, if the strikers don’t perform, Desna can count on their defenders to ensure that the scoreline is kept down. This is unlikely to be much of a problem in this fixture though.

As mentioned previously, Olimpik were brought back to reality with a bump after beating fellow strugglers Lviv. Zorya walked all over them and they are inevitably going to struggle against sides that have even a semi potent strike force. Goals are hard to come by for usual outlets; Pasich & Dieye and the defence just can’t cope.

They’re unlikely to turn over as easily as they did last time out but it looks like a nailed on victory for Chernihiv in this one. 3-0

Lviv v Zorya Luhansk

Zorya Luhansk have another rather favourable fixture for the second week in a row. Their dismantlement of Olimpik in Kyiv last Sunday, will have sent out significant warning signs to Volodymyr Mazyar’s men. The ease with which Rusyn, Lednev, Kocherhin and Kabaev were able to threaten a paper thin Olimpik defence and put five goals (could have been a lot more) can easily occur once again this Matchday.

Lviv have lost the last four consecutive league games against many of their rivals in the bottom half of the table. They may have conceded minimally in those games but crucially they have been unable to penetrate at the other end!

A lack of goals with Lviv’s Brazilian forwards drawing blanks is pushing the side into crisis. It’s quite astonishing that a there’s a worse side than them at the moment with Olimpik still sit below them in the table. They’ve even lost to them!

Now they face one of the most potent attacking lines in the division and it’s looking like one way traffic will be the norm in this game.

Viktor Skripnyk’s men had a bit of a winless blip before last week’s match but his youthful side showcased why so many people in Ukraine are excited by the former Bremen manager’s new project. This could be another big win for the boys from Luhansk. Lviv’s defensive edge over Olimpik will see them lose more ‘narrowly’ though. 0-3

Dnipro-1 v Shakhtar Donetsk

It was a big toss up between this game and the next in the schedule for the Match to Watch this week, however after Dnipro-1’s woeful showing against an almost on par drab Dynamo. This one might not be as interesting as it looks on paper.

Even with the permitted loanee Supryaha, Dnipro-1 failed to trouble Dynamo for the entirety of their game. With Shakhtar already in electric form in the league, this is likely to be another no contest.

Buletsa is likely to return to return for the hosts after sitting out the game against his parent club but even so, he’s unlikely going to be able to completely pull this game in Dnipro-1’s favour.

Shakhtar will be buoyant after their superb performance against Atalanta in midweek and will feel confident that if they can beat one of Serie A’s grande, then they can see off a newly promoted side domestically.

After fielding a second string team against Vorskla (and still winning 4-0) Castro is likely to return to his usual first choice line up. Marlos and Moraes can expect to get a run out ahead of the international break.

It’s difficult to see Shakhtar not picking up their TENTH consecutive win since the start of the UPL season. 0-3

Kolos Kovalivka v Dynamo Kyiv

This is the game that is being put forward as the ‘One to Watch’ this weekend. The so far surprising and for some overachieving Kyiv Oblast village side Kolos face up against the big city slickers; Dynamo.

Well Dynamo used to be slickers… The visiting side makes the short trip north up to the Obolon Arena after an absolutely embarrassing performance in Switzerland for the Europa League. Dynamo were held against a Lugano side who sit bottom of the Swiss league and have failed to win in their last seven games.

Apart from the clean sheet, there was nothing much positive to say about that and with this UPL game coming so soon after that display, a hangover could well impact the final result.

Kolos will be under no illusions that they are the underdogs in this match but Ruslan Kostyshyn’s side aren’t the kind of side to be just turned over.

Dynamo seemingly we’re getting back into the groove of things in recent weeks but their last league tie and the game in Europe highlight how much of their recent result success is very much a facade. The side can easily beat sides who are unmotivated but when they come up against dogged opposition regardless of quality they are stumped.

Dnipro-1 could have got something against them had they shown any sort of attacking prowess and with Kolos playing at home with a likely big crowd being biased in from the provinces, they could definitely cause a shock.

Manager’s son, Denys Kostyshyn was recently awarded Kovalivka’s player of the month accolade with keeper Volynets also having been in contention. Both sides of the pitch seem to have equilibrium at the moment.

Goals are being scored, whilst not high in quantity, they are key result deciders. A win here would see them leapfrog Dynamo due to the head to head record. So there’s a lot to play for in a fixture than in season’s gone by would have been a nailed on away team victory.

Kolos will trouble Dynamo and it really wouldn’t surprise if they went on to pick up a narrow win. However, it’s more likely to be a drab affair with points shared with both defences being rather good at their jobs of late. 1-1

Oleksandriya v Karpaty Lviv

The home side’s approach to this game can go one of two ways. Oleksandriya can take inspiration from drawing in the Europa League and push on by pairing that up with a strong performance at home or fall under the hangover curse and crumble against a limp Karpaty.

Volodymyr Sharan, certainly knows what he’s doing as manager and will want his players to go into the international period with serious momentum.

There are a few concerns after the game with Gent. Bright spark Luchkevych hobbled off with a suspected groin problem whilst Pankiv, in goal seemed to have tweaked something in his foot near the end.

There’s still time for both to potentially recover. However, if they don’t, the versatility in the squad can see Shastal potentially slot in on the right.

On the other hand, Sharan’s counterpart Roman Sanzhar is already under pressure despite being in the job for just over a month. As is the topsy turvy world at Karpaty, it’s difficult to understand as to how they can play so poorly despite having a much more in depth squad than many of the league’s lower half sides.

A number of forwards have been brought in at the Lviv club but none of them seem to be making any kind of impact. Defensively, they do look ok but even still conceding is a regular occurrence.

With this being an away game for Karpaty, it looks like the odds are stacked against them. It would not come as a surprise if they somehow came out of this with a goalless draw. Oleksandriya also has a tendency for a nice stalemate but even still Oleksandriya are far more organised and their transitional play from back to front in leaps ahead of the opponents. This will help them scrape it. 1-0

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