Oleksandriya welcome top of the group Wolfsburg to their adopted European home tonight, knowing anything but a win will seriously hinder their chances of continuing to play Europa League football in the new year!
Oleksandriya have impressed recently, especially after recording three consecutive comeback draws; twice against St Etienne and once against Gent. The previous fixture between tonight’s opponents resulted in Wolfsburg coming out as 3-1 winners back in Germany. However, Oleksandriya showed a really good account of themselves and hinted at what was to come.
Tonight’s game at Arena Lviv will be tough. Wolfsburg need to win themselves to challenge Gent for top spot and edge further away from the chasing Ukrainian side and french counterparts, St Etienne.
Fortunately, Volodymyr Sharan doesn’t have too many injury problems ahead of the game. Sitalo misses out as does Protasov but both are rather easily replaced. Bezborodko is expected to come in for the former, having scored in the last Matchday.
The manager can take respite in the fact that his side have kept consecutive clean sheets domestically ahead of this fixture. A confidence boosting 1-0 over a potent attacking side in Zorya on the weekend shows the defensive qualities and organisational skills of Sharan’s men.
Once again, the game will be won in the final thirds. Oleksandriya have had a few issues with finishing in their previous UEL ties and such limited chances will need to be converted if they are to get past Wolfsburg tonight. Likewise, the influential Luchkevych and Tretyakov on the wings and Kovalets through the middle will need to perfect their passing and feed whichever forward ends up starting.
Wolfsburg won in the league on the weekend but beforehand lost four consecutively. Albeit, all the sides they’ve faced have been the traditionally stronger Bundesliga clubs. Nonetheless, it proves that Wolfsburg are beatable.
Despite the gulf in class and disparity in squad value, Oleksandriya will go into this tie knowing that they have a good chance. A supportive Lviv crowd should assist the players’ morale but ultimately it’s down to Oleksandriya on the pitch to overcome the greatest challenge in the club’s history and make the knockout rounds!