Ukrainian football round up

It was a rather quiet week in Ukrainian football but a few notable pieces of news occurred nonetheless.

Ukraine were drawn into Group C at next year’s Euros and will play against Netherlands, Austria and one of Romania or Belarus/Georgia/Kosovo/N Macedonia! Their group stage games will take place at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam & Arena Nationala in Bucharest.

Elsewhere the Ukrainian Player of the Year award saw Taison pick up the top Player of the Year in Ukraine award, Shevchenko picked up the Manager accolade whilst Oleksandr Zinchenko was named the best foreign player!

With no midweek football, it was only UPL action from last weekend that got us through to this week!

Zorya beat Karpaty 2-0 to keep up with Dynamo whilst the losers are now level bottom due to results elsewhere.

Dnipro-1 also beat a Lviv team as they won on the road to get a consecutive victory for the first time this season. Lviv remain joint bottom with Karpaty on 11 points.

The Yuri Maxymov revolution well and truly begun after a poor start the week before. His Vorskla side defeated Kolos by a single goal to draw level with Lviv and Karpaty. Making the relegation battle a 3 pronged race for now!

Desna then steamrolled a visibly European hungover Oleksandriya who were still feeling their Europa League defeat to Wolfsburg. Fillipov got back to scoring ways as they ended up 2-0 winners to keep up with Dynamo and Zorya in the medal spots!

Mariupol then shocked the league as they drew with a half strength Shakhtar! They claimed their first point over Shakhtar in the history of the UPL. However Shakhtar will be less worried by the result as they remain 11 points clear at the top!

Dynamo then concluded Matchday 16 with an eventually resounding win over Olimpik at the Lobanovskyi! They stunted the recent form of Vicente Gomez’s men despite getting back into the game at 1-1!

When Besiedin is scoring a brace, you know there wasn’t too much of a contest!

PREDICTION TIME

Shakhtar Donetsk v Olimpik Donetsk

After last week’s shock draw to Mariupol, Shakhtar will be looking to warm up in the right way ahead of their crucial ‘cup final’ group stage tie against Atalanta on Wednesday. They face Olimpik Donetsk, whose manager is fresh from winning November’s UPL manager of the month award.

Despite the fact that Olimpik ended up losing to Dynamo last time out, they weren’t too far off the pace, getting an equaliser and troubling the returning Boyko a few times.

However with it expected that Castro will give his senior side a run out ahead of the UCL tie, a victory for the hosts looks to be the only result on the cards here.

For all their fight, it will be another blip on Olimpik’s impressive recent record before they get back to playing against more level opposition next week. 3-0

Oleksandriya v Vorskla Poltava

Oleksandriya suffered from a European hangover last week. They not only lost in the UEL but also fell to the superior Desna in the league.

Vorskla on the other hand defied the odds and actually got a win under their plate, the first of the Maxymov era! They now have a chance of getting out of trouble if they string a few more positive results together because their closest rivals look to be in dire straits.

Even still, Oleksandriya will have had time to rejuvenate over the week, knowing that their final UEL game v Gent is little more than a glorified friendly. As such they will have greater focus on the immediate task at hand, aiming to keep in touch with Desna and the others as best they can.

Maxymov has not instilled any kind of revolutionary tactics into his team just yet but it’s not going to be easy for Sharan’s men to break Poltava down. However, goals at the other end won’t come freely either, with the current state of the Vorskla attack coupled with the solidity of the Oleksandriya backline.

This game is not going to be pretty or entertaining but you would expect a narrow win for the home side to be the minimum requirement for Sharan and the fans. 1-0

Kolos Kovalivka v Dnipro-1

Kolos come into this on the back of Vorskla’s ‘new manager bounce’ last weekend and as they have shown on more than one occasion this season, they don’t travel well. Hence one of the reasons for their loss.

However, when looked in the whole, Kolos just weren’t good enough. With the game this weekend returning to the Obolon Arena and the usual bussed in home crowd back in the stands, it should be a different story.

Viljhalmsson was off the pace last time round, still looking to return to 100% match fitness after playing his first bit of competitive football in almost six months over the past fortnight.

Dnipro on the other hand have had a slight uplift in fortunes, winning their first games back to back. Both sides have been current relegation fodder and as such it would have been expected to defeat such underachieving foes.

The flow with the youth looks to be slowly restarting as Kohut was on the scoresheet last week and Korkishko continued his own goalscoring form from midfield.

This has the hallmarks to be have a few goals in it. Neither defence is renowned for solidity and as such goals should be expected. Having said that, it’s difficult to separate the two over the course of the season so far on paper and how they actually end up playing. 2-2

Mariupol v Lviv

Mariupol will be on cloud nine after last week’s first ever point over Shakhtar in the league. Whilst the Champions did field a half weakened side, the ability to say that your side drew with what many call the ‘parent club’ can silence a few critics who say they usually just roll over in all other occasions.

However it was interesting to hear some accusations flying around that Mariupol were actually gifted this point by Shakhtar on purpose in order to aid the former’s chasing of a Championship group place. Once qualified they will be well out of their depth but the potential will be there for them to take points off of Shakhtar’s rivals in the title run in. Make of that what you will.

Regardless, Mariupol have played well at home this season and see Lviv travel from west to almost the furthest East of the country to try and save their own season. They’re level at the bottom of the table and judging on recent showings, it doesn’t look too optimistic in respects to staying up and even staying afloat as a club.

Mariupol have a more cohesive side, that can take the game to their opponents when they are in the mood. Lviv on the other hand can hardly score at all. There’s only one way this will be going. 2-0

Karpaty Lviv v Desna Chernihiv

Karpaty remain in serious trouble! They are level on points with two other sides at the bottom and boast the worst form in the league.

Unfortunately they’re facing Desna who have not been shy of scoring goals this season and challenging the big teams for a medal spot!

Chernihiv looked to be on a mission to avenge their surprise loss against Kolos a week earlier as they made rather light work of Oleksandriya. They neutralised their visitors’ counter attacking threat and Fillipov returned to the scoresheet. His impact has been missed in recent weeks but that goal should give him the confidence to continue in the same vein.

Meanwhile Karpaty were compounded to another loss. Despite the side on paper looking to be able to string more than a few passes together, the football on the field looks uninspired and clueless. How long does Sanzhar have left and can any other manager actually solve this mess? It looks to go way beyond the coach and his staff!

An away victory looks rather inevitable. It won’t be overwhelming but Desna look to have the squad and belief that they can easily pick off these lower sides now. 0-2

Dynamo Kyiv v Zorya Luhansk

There can be now qualms about this match being the main event of the UPL calendar this weekend!

Dynamo did their usual job of beating a side they were expected to but in stressful fashion whilst Zorya got a customary win over Karpaty. Just two points separates these sides who currently sit in second and third. As such whoever wins this will certainly look to be sitting in silver during the winter break.

However the advantage looks to be in favour of Dynamo as Zorya’s two star men this season are on loan from the club! Rusyn and Lednev are likely to miss out due to contract rules.

Although Dynamo may well be distracted with their own cup final type final group stage UEL game on Thursday. Lugano must be beaten at all costs. Whether this has any impact on the UPL game will have to wait and see but a similar line up to the Olimpik game would not be surprising.

Besedin up top and De Pena starting on the left.

Clashes between these sides are always entertaining and even without their key men earlier in the season, Zorya had enough to tie with Dynamo back in Zaporizhya (including a goal of the season nominee – a bicycle kick finish from Joel Abu Hanna to tie the game at 2-2)

As such a draw wouldn’t be too surprising to be seen here again. 1-1

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