THE UPL PREVIEW: 20/21

THE UPL 20/21 SEASON IS UPON US 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦

Top flight football RETURNS to Ukraine TODAY for its 30th edition just a month after 19/20 ended!

Following one of the strangest but most exiting seasons in recent memory 20/21 has A LOT to live up to!

ULTIMATE 20/21 UPL PREVIEW

20/21 LEAGUE FORMAT CHANGES:

UPL returns to 14 teams – 1st time since 16/17 season

Return to double round robin style tournament ONLY (each side plays each other home & away)

26 Matchdays – NO Championship/Relegation Group splits (too congested with 14 teams)

20/21 PLACES & PRIZES:

🥇 – 21/22 UCL GS

🥈- 21/22 UCL 3rd Q Round

🏆 – (Cup)21/22 UEL Play Off Round

🥉 – 21/22 UConfL* 3rd Q Round

4️⃣ – 21/22 UConfL* 2nd Q Round

* UEFA Conference League – New Third tier 🇪🇺 competition

If Cup Winner finishes 🥇or🥈then UEL place goes to 🥉

RELEGATION:

Very simple

1️⃣4️⃣ – Relegation to Persha Liha

Just ONE side goes down due to the 21/22 UPL expanding to 16 teams

ONE side ⬇️

THREE Persha Liha sides ⬆️

(Same as this year – just no Relegation group)

THE CLUBS

Shakhtar Donetsk

19/20: 🥇

🏡: NSK Olympiyskyi, Kyiv

Notable Transfers IN / OUT:

Wellington Nem – Released

Mykhaylo Mudryk – Desna (Loan)

Artem Bondarenko – Mariupol (Loan)

Oleh Kudryk – Mariupol (Loan)

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK:

📍Start season just FOUR days after ending 19/20 edition (losing 5-0 to Inter in UEL Semi)

📍Aging stars may suffer Burnout?

📍Little much has changed since last season as a result

📍No key losses thus far

📍Another title charge expected – a level above

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Marcos Antônio – CM

Already being dubbed ‘The New Fred’ – Energetic box to box mid- good range of passing – eye for goal inside & outside of box

Manor Solomon – RM

The Israel wide man is expected to feature more in 20/21 – fast & skilful dribbler + scores

DYNAMO KYIV

19/20:🥈

🏡: NSK Olympiyskyi, Kyiv

Notable Transfers IN / OUT:

Bohdan Lednev – Loan Return

Oleksandr Tymchyk – Loan Return

Vladyslav Supryaha – Loan Return

Serhiy Buletsa – Loan Return

Artem Kravets – Free Agent (IN)

Josip Pivaric – Released

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK:

📍Most anticipated season in years

📍Mircea Lucescu is DK manager

📍Ultra feud w ML & Club owners

📍Returning loanees expected to be given a chance: Lednev, Tymchyk & Supryaha

📍Supryaha to solve DK ST issue?

📍All friendlies BCD – no idea about ML tactics

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Vladyslav Supryaha – ST

15 UPL goals on loan at Dnipro-1 last term – so he looks to be ready to step into ST role @ DK – electric pace & good finisher

Bohdan Lednev – CAM

Playmaker impressed on loan @ Zorya in 19/20 – creative, set piece specialist – 🇺🇦 DB7

ZORYA LUHANSK

19/20: 🥉

🏡: Slavutych Arena, Zaporizhya

NOTABLE TRANSFERS IN / OUT:

Denys Favorov – Desna (IN)

Max Grechkin – Beitar J (IN)

Yehor Nazaryna – R Antwerp (IN)

B. Mykhaylychenko ⏩ Anderlecht

Y. Cheberko ⏩ LASK Linz

B. Lednev ⏩ DK

O. Tymchyk ⏩ DK

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK:

📍Viktor Skripnyk STAYS as manager for now (Was going to Dnipro-1 but deal fell flat)

📍Lost A LOT of key men in break – replacements brought in but not same quality as those who left

📍Squad looks light with lack of goals

📍Juggling UPL & UEL will be hard

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vlad Kocherhin (RM/ CAM)

Post lockdown he was the sides only real saving light – main creative source of attack – scores goals in a side where they come at a premium

Yehor Nazaryna (CM/CAM)

The Lednev replacement – impressed at Karpaty – Step up needed

DESNA CHERNIHIV

19/20: 4️⃣

🏡: Yuri Gagarin Stadium, Chernihiv

Notable Transfers IN/OUT:

Maksymov Dehtaryov – Olimpik (IN)

Mykhayla Mudryk – Shakhtar (IN)

Denys Favorov ⏩ Zorya Luhansk

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK:

📍UEL Q coming up – main priority in early season

📍Lost long serving captain – D Favorov who left in a contract dispute

📍Added impetus on juggling Europa & pushing for medals again

📍Strong squad – great at attacking

📍Filippov to push for that 🇺🇦 call up

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Mykhaylo Mudryk – LW

The Ukrainian Neymar has arrived in Chernihiv – the 433 star is hoping to develop more on the pitch than on IG – pacy, skilful dribbler – lots of flare

Oleksandr Filippov – ST

Finished 2nd in Golden boot race – Will be up for it again!

OLEKSANDRIYA

19/20: 5️⃣

🏡: NSK Nika, Oleksandriya

NOTABLE TRANSFERS:

Maksym Tretyakov – Dunajska Streda

(IN) Signs a permanent deal

K. Dubra – Released

A. Shendrik – Released

A. Zaporozhan – Released

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK:

📍Disappointing end to 19/20 for Sharan’s men – capitulated in Championship Group & lost UEL Play Off

📍No 🇪🇺 to worry about – just focus on the league & cup

📍No major losses – but goalscorers still lacking in the squad

📍Will be a hard def team to face

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Maksym Tretyakov – LW

Great signing to have Tretyakov permanently – contributed many a goal last season – tricky winger with finishing ability

Kyrylo Kovalets – CAM

Midfield Maestro – can pick a pass out from anywhere and also scores a few – in his prime atm

KOLOS KOVALIVKA

19/20: 6️⃣

🏡: Kolos Stadium, Kovalivka

NOTABLE TRANSFERS IN/OUT

A. Ngamba – UR La Louviere (IN)

Y. Novak – Vardar (IN)

O. Kozushko – Free Agent (IN)

M. Kravchenko – Dynamo (IN) LOAN

Y. Yefremov ⏩ FC Suduva

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍Representing Kovalivka (pop. 1,500) in Europe – early stages of season focus on Q rounds

📍New stadium to open in Kovalivka – so expectation to show fans performances

📍Might be difficult to replicate 6th place finish – but will give bigger sides a good go

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Yevhen Morozko – LM

Popping up with key performances last season – his deliveries will be important to feed in Lysenko & Bondarenko

Denys Kostyshyn – CAM

Missed most of last season due to injury – but he’s back to full fitness

Fine dribbler & game changer

DNIPRO-1

19/20: 7️⃣

🏡: Dnipro Arena, Dnipro

Notable Transfers IN/OUT

Artem Dovbyk – FC Midtjylland (IN)

Bohdan Sarnavskyi – FC Lviv (IN)

Vladyslav Dubinchak – DK (IN)

Vladyslav Supryaha ⏩ DK

Serhiy Buletsa ⏩ DK

Dmytro Korkishko – Released

Vladyslav Shapoval – Released

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍Potentially big season ahead

📍Mykhaylenko has a point to prove after he somehow stays in job following Skripnyk debacle

📍Lost key goals & creators – Supryaha & Buletsa

📍Dovbyk return huge positive

📍Should go & challenge for Europe places this season

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bohdan Sarnavskyi – GK

Great goalkeeper signing who was standout player for lowly FC Lviv in 19/20 – great shot & penalty stopper

Much needed problem area addressed

Oleksiy Khoblenko – ST

No Supryaha means more game time for this man – natural goalscorer

MARIUPOL

19/20: 8️⃣

🏡: V. Boyko Stadium, Mariupol

NOTABLE TRANSFERS IN/OUT

Petro Stasyuk – Free agent (IN)

Artem Bondarenko – SD (IN)

Oleh Kudryk – SD (IN)

Ruslan Fomin ⏩ FC Metal

Serhiy Yavorskyi ⏩ Vorskla

Valery Fedorchuk ⏩ Released

Viktor Kornienko ⏩ Shakhtar

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍Oleksandr Babych left after 19/20 close – Ostap Markevych IN

📍Ostap, son of Myron – worked at Villarreal for 4 years

📍Got rid of some of the side’s veterans such as Fomin & club captain Yavorskyi (big loss in def)

📍Shakhtar loanees from 19/20 stay on

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Oleksiy Kashchuk – RW

Main man post lockdown scoring a number of key goals – lots of energy down the right – scores goals in a team that lacks them

Artem Bondarenko – CAM

New Shakhtar loanee has been spoken of highly – exciting technical player – big season

OLIMPIK DONETSK

19/20: 9️⃣

🏡: Lobanovksyi Stadium, Kyiv

Notable Transfers IN / OUT

Kirkuk Kirilenko – Karpaty (IN)

Yevhen Neplyakh – Free agent (IN)

Vitaliy Balashov ⏩ Released

Maksym Dehtaryov ⏩ Released

Matar Dieye ⏩ Released

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍Everyone’s tip for relegation last season stayed up once again thanks to magic caretaker manager – Ihor Kymovskyi

📍He’s finally been given the role FT and is close to finishing his badges

📍Another season of relegation flirting expected

📍Very much 🤷‍♂️

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Shahab Zahedi – ST

Olimpik’s best player last season – most consistent top performer and had a good stint of goalscoring form at end of season

Maxime Texeira – LW

The side’s main chance creator – gets the odd goal – but he will be carving out opps for Zahedi

VORSKLA POLTAVA

19/20: 🔟

🏡: O. Butovsky Stadium, Poltava

Notable Transfers IN/OUT

Serhiy Yavorskyi – Free agent (IN)

Ivan Pesic – Free agent (IN)

Mykyta Tatarkov – Free agent (IN)

Luizao ⏩ Porto (End of Loan)

Yevhen Martynenko ⏩ Released

Artur ⏩ Keshla

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍First FULL season in charge for Yuri Maksymov – build on last successes

📍Following cup final performance many expect a top half finish from Vorskla this time

📍Good mix of youth & experience – clearing out dead wood over past 2 windows

📍Exciting times

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Pape Alioune – CB

6’8 young centre back had his breakthrough season last year – pacey, composed tackler & confident passer

Ibrahim Kane – LM

Playing at full back or LW – Kane will always be flying down the left flank – added goals to his game & now a key man

FC LVIV

19/20: 1️⃣1️⃣

🏡: Stadion Ukraina, Lviv

Notable Transfers IN/OUT

Mikhel Ainsalu – FC Flora (IN)

Bohdan Sarnavskyi ⏩ Dnipro-1

Jonatan Lima ⏩ Released

Anton Bratkov ⏩ Released

Ihor Honchar ⏩ Released

Vladyslav Priymak ⏩ Released

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍It was a long hard season for Lviv but they stayed up thanks to their city rivals Karpaty’s financial issues

📍Certain relegation battle expected

📍Plenty of Brazilians still remain

📍No strengthening after loss of KEY men – Sarnavskyi, Honchar,Tatarkov

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Herman Penkov – GK

The man tasked with replacing Sarnavskyi – will be primary problem area as defensive is so error prone

Renann – ST

Lviv’s saving grace? Renann found some goalscoring form post Covid that Lviv will want to see replicated in 20/21

FC MINAJ

19/20: 🥇(Persha Liha)

🏡: Avanhard Stadium, Uzhorod

Notable Transfers IN/OUT

Denys Kozhanov – Free agent (IN)

Kyrylo Melichenko – SD (IN)

Dmytro Pavlish – SD (IN)

Petro Stasyuk ⏩ Mariupol

Mykhaylo Kopolovets ⏩ Retired

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍The second smallest village team in the UPL (pop. 3,088)

📍Minaj debut in the UPL as Persha Liha champs

📍Should fare well after recent good performances in the cup v UPL sides

📍More signings pending – a Kolos fairytale unlikely – but top half finish is

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Denys Kozhanov – ST

Veteran forward & last season’s Persha Liha top scorer enters the UPL for his swan song years – goals expected

Anatoliy Nuriev – ST

Last season’s club top scorer should take to the UPL with ease – almost ever present – he’ll also get goals

RUKH LVIV

19/20: 🥈

🏡: Arena Lviv, Lviv

Notable Transfers IN/OUT

Valery Fedorchuk – Free agent (IN)

Ilya Ponomarov – Free agent (IN)

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍Owner Hyhoriy Kozlovksyi is currently building a state of the art academy

📍Now Rukh are in the UPL – he wants it to stay that way

📍Eclectic squad mix of old & young players – many with UPL experience

📍New-ish Manager Ivan Fedyk just 33 – 🇺🇦 Nagelsmann?

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Yuriy Klymchuk – LW

Quick, jinky winger who impressed in Persha Liha – will be interesting to see if he can step up

Danylo Kondrakov – ST

Alongside Klymchuk coming in from LW, this guy will be the main goalscoring forward – assisted by ST partner Ernest

INHULETS PETROVE

19/20: 🥉 (Persha Liha)

🏡: Zirka Stadium, Kropivnitksyi

Notable Transfers IN / OUT

Mykhaylo Plokhotnyuk – C Odesa 2

Mykyta Zelenskyi – Balkany Zorya

20/21 SEASON OUTLOOK

📍Third smallest club in UPL – town population circa 7,000

📍Eccentric owner

📍Need to stay up so they can debut in new stadium – ETA: April 21

📍18/19 Cup finalists – only ever non UPL side to make it

📍Experienced squad – Shust & Bartulovic return to UPL

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nika Sichinava – ST

Inhulets’ Georgian CF was voted Persha Liha POTS after an unforgettable campaign – 19/20 club top scorer – contributed to 40% of all goals

Maksym Kovalyov – CB

Veteran defender knocking around – main thing to note – Craziest hair in UPL

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