The UPL returned after the international break in subdued style. Not many goals were scored as Shakhtar reasserted their lead at the top of the table. They defeated their second placed rivals Oleksandriya whilst Dynamo continued their winless streak with a 1-1 draw away against Zorya Luhansk. Dynamo now sit 7 points behind Shakhtar but have a midweek game in hand to play next Wednesday. Arsenal Kyiv remain at the bottom of the league after losing to Desna Chernihiv, whilst Mariupol demolished Olimpik Donetsk 3-1, potentially picking up some of last season’s form that had been lost during their Europa League exploits earlier in the season. 
European action returned in the midweek with Shakhtar, Dynamo and Vorskla all in action. Shakhtar came from behind twice to secure a point at home against Hoffenheim. A superb Maycon strike helped make the game 2-2. Dynamo began at home to Astana, a game they should have won but once more were unable to secure the three points and had to settle for just one. When will the Dynamo crisis end? Vorskla travelled to London to visit the Emirates Stadium and left with their heads held high. A crowd of 400 Ukrainians cheered them on from the stands, who were ecstatic when Vorskla’s two goals went in. Regardless of the 4-2 result, Vorskla did not end up embarrassing themselves and will retain some confidence going into their game this weekend!
Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests. 
Our ninth guest of the 2018 – 19 season is journalist and founder of Legioners.ua, the popular Ukrainian football news Instagram and Facebook pages, Bohdan Sagash. Bohdan hails from Lviv where he supports his local side Karpaty alongside Dynamo Kyiv. His favoured European side is Real Madrid. He has been following football since the ‘German’ summer of 2006, the one and only time Ukraine qualified for the World Cup!
In conjunction to his work as a journalist, where he regularly produces content for Legioners.ua we decided to ask Bohdan about what inspired and motivated him to start his social media accounts about Ukrainian foreign based players. He told us that it was actually his friend, Mykola, who came up with the name for the project. ‘Since then the Legioners.ua pages have grown from strength to strength. There are now four team members and we strive to produce interesting and engaging content for our followers every day!’ 
In response to our question asking whether he ever thought his pages would become as popular as they are today, Bohdan played down any successes for the time being. ‘I can’t really say that is page is that popular and we are still searching for a larger target audience.’ However, Bohdan will take good stead from the fact that the original version of his Legioners.ua page accumulated over 25,000 followers ahead of the account being blocked and then deleted by Instagram. To rebuild the Instagram page back up from scratch shows great commitment and dedication to the cause – delivering interesting and unique content for Ukrainian football supporting fans. 
Further to mentioning the original version of the Legioners.ua social pages, we wanted to know why Instagram decided to ban it and leave Bohdan and his social team to start again. ‘Instagram didn’t tell us the exact reasoning behind the account removal, but it’s more than likely down to copyright reasons relating to video highlights. However, as the rebuilding process from this devastating decision continues, Bohdan and his team are in the process of releasing a Legioners.ua website. 
We enquired with Bohdan about what people can expect from the new online venture once it launches. He anticipates ‘We will be publishing exclusive interviews and videos, and in conjunction with this we will be starting to lots of different competitions via our Instagram page too.’
Bohdan with Oleksandr Zinchenko
In his capacity as a journalist, Bohdan attempts to regularly attend games. He was recently at the Ukraine v Slovakia Nations League game that was played behind closed doors. We asked him what he thought of the game and how he rated Ukraine’s overall team playing style. ‘The match itself was relatively tense, but I am happy that the team got the 3 points. I’m not going to single any one out for personal praise as all the players played great. It is without a doubt clear to see that Ukraine’s style and play is changing and the players are adjusting to it accordingly.’ 
Furthermore, as Legioners.ua has such a pronounced focus on Ukrainian players plying their trade abroad, we could not pass up on the opportunity to ask Bohdan his thoughts on the most inform footballer playing on foreign shores. ‘I believe that every foreign based Ukrainian player brings their own benefits to their respected clubs.’ 

In addition to this, we asked Bohdan to tell us which players he thought would have the best and most consistent seasons? ‘In my opinion, Malinovskiy, Yaremchuk and Seleznyov will persist with their high quality performances. Yarmolenko is still adapting to his new side and requires time regardless of his double against Everton. It’s also worth remembering Konoplyanka and Zinchenko, both are playing at the highest level and for top clubs in their league but they desperately need more playing time!’ 


A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.


Mariupol v Oleksandriya 
Todos’ prediction: Oleksandriya’s form has dipped slightly in recent games but I feel they will likely regain some of it in this game. Mariupol are not easy opposition but they have been awful at the back this season so goals will be conceded. 1-2
Bohdan’s prediction: Bohdan is going for the all score draw. 1-1
RESULT: 1-0: FOMIN (8′)

FC Lviv v Karpaty Lviv 
Todos’ prediction: Karpaty are the most inconsistent team around. Every week their performances are wholly unpredictable and will probably still be feeling deflated after last week’s last minute loss to Vorskla. Narrow game with FC Lviv giving their counterparts a good game. 1-1
Bohdan’s prediction: Bohdan is backing his hometown club, Karpaty to grab a win against their city rivals. 1-2
RESULT: 1-1: DUARTE (78′) / MYAKUSHKO (74′)

Arsenal Kyiv v Olimpik Donetsk 
Todos’ prediction: Arsenal Kyiv are bottom of the table. Whilst they’re recent performances have improved, they are unable to get themselves ahead in games. Olimpik have been inconsistent so far this season, notably being let down by their defence which has been relatively solid over recent past seasons. Olimpik will edge the game as they possess a more experienced UPL squad. 1-2
Bohdan’s prediction: A narrow win for Olimpik. 0-1
RESULT: 1-3: HRYN (58′) / VAKULENKO (16′) , GRISHKO (64′) , DEHTYAREV (82′)

Dynamo Kyiv v Desna Chernihiv
Todos’ prediction: Dynamo have been so poor recently but I just don’t believe this rut can go on any further. Desna are not the most formidable opposition and this fixture could be coming at the perfect time for Khatskevich. Get a win and relieve a miniscule amount of pressure. 2-0
Bohdan’s prediction: Dynamo to edge this game out. Just. 1-0
RESULT: 4-0: BURDA (45+1′) , VERBIC (67′) , KEDZIORA (74′) , TSYHANKOV (87′)

Shakhtar Donetsk v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: Chornomorets have been doing a lot better than expected this season, however regardless of their numerous recent good performances, Shakhtar will be ready to inflict serious damage. Slightly disappointed with their UCL result, they will be ready to take it out on the Odesa defence.4-0
Bohdan’s prediction: Shakhtar to win this game comfortably. 2-0
RESULT: 3-0: MORAES (57′) , TRUBOCHKIN OG (63′) , TAISON (82′)

Vorskla Poltava v Zorya Luhansk
Todos’ prediction: I was initially going to side with Zorya in this fixture but after Vorskla’s display at the Emirates and two well taken goals, Vorskla will be buoyed by their midweek display and will give Zorya a game. 1-1
Bohdan’s prediction:Bohdan predicts a UEL hangover for the Poltava side0-1
RESULT: 2-1: REBENOK (65′) , PRIYMA (90+2′) / KARAVAYEV (70′)
Total scores after week 9
Todos v Guests
D1 L4





Home Stadium for 2018/19 Campaign: Metalist Stadium (Kharkiv)





GOALKEEPERS: 1: Oleksii Shevchenko, 30: Andriy Pyatov, 55: Oleh Kudryk

DEFENDERS: 2: Bohdan Butko, 4: Serhiy Kryvtsov, 5: David Khocholava, 18: Ivan Ordets, 22: Mykola Matviyenko, 31: Ismaily, 44: Yaroslav Rakitskiy

MIDFIELDERS: 6: Taras Stepanenko, 7: Taison, 9: Dentinho, 11: Marlos, 21: Alan Patrick, 23: Wellington Nem, 27: Maycon, 28: Marquinhos Cipriano, 29: Andriy Totovitskiy, 50: Serhiy Bolbat, 74: Viktor Kovalenko, 94: Oleh Danchenko, 99: Fernando

FORWARDS: 8: Olarenwaju Kayode, 10: Junior Moraes

Shakhtar started this season in a period of transition. They lost some of their key men of recent seasons during the summer. Prolific forward Facundo Ferreyra moved to Benfica, Bernard left for Everton whilst Fred departed to nearby Manchester United. Long serving club captain Darijo Srna was also released, after a doping ban. All three players featured heavily in last season’s Champions League campaign for Shakhtar that ended in the round of 16 against AS Roma. 
On paper it looks like these moves have depleted Shakhtar and left them short of serious European experience. However, they have recruited astutely, bringing in the likes of former Dynamo Kyiv forward, Junior Moraes and permanently signing striker Olarenwaju Kayode, from Manchester City, after a successful half season loan spell. Kayode has been injured for most of the season so far, whilst Junior Moraes has hit the ground running for his new side, continuing his consistent scoring record in Ukraine’s top division. Elsewhere, a new intake of midfielders from Brazil have also arrived at Shakhtar, but they have yet to fully bed in to the starting line up and will more than likely be used as substitutes during the European campaign. 

Junior Moraes (centre) is congratulated by team mates

This European season will more than likely see Shakhtar place greater focus on defence as they aim to shut out and narrowly edge their relatively similar abled group rivals for second spot. Manchester City are expected to finish top. Experience remains at the team’s core with Rakitskiy in the centre of defence and Stepanenko sitting in front of him in CDM. However, the loss of the energetic and aggressive Fred in CM will more than likely be felt against high quality opposition, with his replacement Fernando as of yet being inexperienced at such a level. Alan Patrick will continue to fill in this role as he has done in the league. Whilst Bernard did show glimpses of quality last season, his departure wont be as detrimental to the side. Marlos and Taison will remain key to Shakhtar’s attacking threat with Junior Moraes aiming to emulate Ferreyra’s European contribution of last season. 
This group looks well balanced on paper. Whilst Manchester City are heavy favourites, second and third place could be taken up by any of these sides. Shakhtar will need to put in strong home performances against Lyon and Hoffenheim in order to to have a chance of getting through to the next round. Lyon have a seriously reputable attack that will be needed to be supressed and the tactical genius of future RB Leipzig coach, Julian Nagelsmann currently at Hoffenheim will need to be outthought. 
Shakhtar do have a genuine chance of reaching the knock out rounds but due to a lack of squad depth and the inability to beat their league rivals, Dynamo twice so far this season, they will probably finish third. This is probably more beneficial for the club, as Shakhtar are unlikely to be able to match the quality of a first placed side in the Round of 16. A long Europa League knock out campaign should then ensue with a serious possibility of them going all the way.

Shakhtar will set up similarly to how they do in the league and will play in much of the same style as they did in last season’s Champions League campaign. 
4-2-3-1 is the preferential formation of Paulo Fonseca
Junior Moraes: 

Arriving from arch rivals Dynamo Kyiv in the summer led to much distaste from his former club’s fans. However, his decision has seen him start the season in electric form. He has scored 7 goals in 8 games and has also recorded 2 assists. Faster and more compact than his predecessor Facundo Ferreyra, Junior Moraes will bring a new dynamic to Shakhtar’s play in the Champions League. Rather than being a target man, Moraes is able to dribble with the ball and holds some pace. 
He’s a tricky nuisance in the box, ready to pounce on any defensive mix ups or goalkeeper spills. He also has the ability to hold up the play and pick out a shrewd pass for one of his attacking midfielders, namely Taison and Marlos who also have a knack for scoring. Moraes has experience in Europe with Dynamo Kyiv and scored 7 goals in the Europa League last season. He will be looking to seize the opportunity of playing in Europe’s top competition again and be aiming to maintain his early season goal scoring form going into the Autumn.

The Brazilian born, since turned Ukraine international has started the season as he ended the last; being the main man for Shakhtar. He pulls the strings from the right side of midfield, often drifting into the middle to orchestrate further goal scoring opportunities. He has so far scored 5 goals in the league and provided 1 assist this season. He will look to add to his European contribution from last season, where he managed 2 goals and 2 assists in 8 games. His link up play with Junior Moraes and Taison will be vital if Shakhtar are to outscore their opponents. 
He will also be aiming to work with either Oleh Danchenko or Bohdan Butko who, from the right full back position, will be looking for the overlap to feed Junior Moraes or the onrushing Taison in the centre of the box. As Junior Moraes is not the tallest of forwards, through balls and crosses along the floor will be the most common form of delivery from Marlos from his side of the pitch. He will also be aiming to whip in a few set pieces with the likes of Khocholava, Rakitskiy or Stepanenko regularly inside or on the periphery of the box waiting to knock into the net. 


Home Stadium for 2018/19 Campaign: NSC Olympiyskiy (Kyiv)






GOALKEEPERS: 1: Georgiy Bushchan, 71: Denys Boyko, 72: Artur Rudko

DEFENDERS: 9: Mykola Morozyuk, 17: Sidcley, 23: Josip Pivaric, 26: Mykyta Burda, 30: Artem Shabanov, 44: Tamas Kadar, 94: Tomasz Kedziora

MIDFIELDERS: 5: Serhiy Sydorchuk, 6: Tche – Tche, 7: Benjamin Verbic, 8: Volodymyr Shepelev, 10: Mykola Shaparenko, 15: Viktor Tsyhankov, 18: Oleksandr Andriyevskiy, 19: Denys Garmash, 20: Vitor Bueno, 29: Vitaliy Buyalskiy, 99: Mikkel Duelund

FORWARDS: 41: Artem Besedin, 43: Nazariy Rusyn, 89: Vladyslav Supryaha

Dynamo Kyiv began their league campaign without any drastic changes to their squad make up from the season before. Junior Moraes left for Shakhtar, but his departure was expected after a loan spell in China had occurred in 2017. One problem this move has resulted in is that Dynamo Kyiv have been left to rely on three young strikers. Artem Besedin, who is the most senior of these three, is far from prolific and most of his performances leave a lot to be desired. Artem has scored 1 goal in 8 appearances and is injured for the time being. 

However, he is expected to return to the starting line up once he regains fitness. With such a scoring record coming from their main striker, it’s reasonable to expect that his back ups are in even worse form. However, Nazariy Rusyn, who made his Europa League debut last season and scored in the competition has 2 goals in 6 appearances. It will be a toss of the coin between him and 18-year-old, Vladyslav Supryaha, who made his club debut against Ajax in the UCL Play Off round second leg. He has made the step up from newly promoted Persha Liha side SK1 – Dnipro and is yet to hit the ground running with a goal. 
Supryaha has yet to score for Dynamo. Will he get his first one in the Europa League?

The lack of current goal scoring form has begun to be detrimental to Dynamo’s league campaign despite a promising start. They sit 7 points off Shakhtar in top spot but do have a game in hand over them.  Having beaten Shakhtar twice in the opening weeks of the season, once during the Ukrainian Super Cup and second in a home league game, Dynamo were continuing to grind out narrow wins. The lack of consistent goals was already blatant to see but nothing was done to address these problems, bar the signing of Supryaha. Manager Aleksandr Khatskevich and club owner, Ihor Surkis have paid the price with their lack of serious transfer movement in this area as the club crashed out of the UCL in the play off rounds and have failed to win their last three league games on the bounce ahead of the start of European competition. 
Whilst this hiccup is unlikely to last much longer, either via the dismissal of Khatskevich or through Dynamo bucking up and finally pushing aside the weaker league sides, it currently has the potential to harm their first few Europa League games. Viktor Tsyhankov, has yet to replicate his form of last season and opposite winger, Benjamin Verbic has faded out of form after a promising opening couple of months to the campaign. Luckily, Dynamo’s defence looks fairly solid for the time being with Mykyta Burda and Tamas Kadar seeming to be working well together in the middle but, even still, neither matches the authority and ability of the now departed duo of Yevhen Khacheridi or Domagoi Vida. Denys Boyko, in goal, is also temperamental in his performances. In some games he is unstoppable, saving every shot that comes at him, whilst in others he is hopeless. He’s either spilling long shots or flapping at corners and crosses and most of the time these mistakes directly impact the full time result. So this European campaign will really depend upon which Boyko decides to turn up as it will be in the defensive areas where Dynamo will seek to edge out games with their current lack of in form goal scorers.
Looking over the group composition, on paper at least, Dynamo Kyiv should be looking to win it comfortably. However, in light of their recent dip in form it may not turn out that way in practice. Astana, in the second seed spot are seasoned in both Europa League and Champions League competitions in recent seasons. They will try to get an upset over the Kyivan side, all the more so as their manager is former Chornomorets Odesa boss, Roman Hryhorchuk.  Stade Rennais, are also a formidable side, playing against top Ligue 1 talent on a weekly basis. FK Jablonec will most likely be the whipping boys of the group on their Europa League debut but without any expectations, they shouldn’t be ruled out of causing an upset especially as Dynamo Kyiv are making a name for themselves as perennial ‘bottlers’. Despite this worst case scenario outlook, Dynamo should pick up some form over their autumn and winter games and should look to progress far into the competition. This will also depend on whether the usual ‘after the ‘winter break’ European melt down’ occurs or not. Dynamo certainly have the ability and talent to win this group, it will just boil down to the hunger of the players and the ability to shake things up from the manager, especially when things are going wrong!

Dynamo will likely set up in Khatskevich favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with two inverted wingers. The full backs will look to push up the pitch to help the wide players out on the overlap to provide crosses into the box for the sole striker that will play up top on their own. 

Benjamin Verbic
Whilst Benjamin is already a club legend for his numerous match winning goals in games against Shakhtar since his arrival in January, he could become much more than that with big performances in Europe. The left winger started the season well, with goals in the league and champions league qualifying rounds. However, after those initial fixtures his form has since waned. This competition is the perfect opportunity for him to regain some of it, and to take the lead for a side depleted in confidence.
He’s a pacey wide player with good dribbling ability. His goals usually come from getting on the end of set pieces or stroking in from inside the penalty area. He will be looking to work with his left sided full back, Josip Pivaric, to link up play across that channel. As Verbic is a right footer playing on the left, he will also be able to cut in and provide square or through balls for whichever forward that starts and to his opposite number, Viktor Tsyhankov, who also has an eye for goal.
Josip Pivaric

Having taken extended time off to relax after reaching the World Cup final with Croatia, Pivaric has recently returned to the starting fold for Dynamo. His partnership with Verbic down the left flank will be vital in producing a large majority of Dynamo’s goal scoring opportunities. 

Pivaric is a no nonsense left back. His defensive qualities are of a high standard, and he is certainly not shy to fly in with a tackle against pacey wingers that work down his side. He may not be the fastest or technically gifted dribbler but he has got good crossing ability and should be available for Verbic on the overlap on most occasions. Likewise, his opposite number Tomasz Kedziora will be vital in linking up with Viktor Tsyhankov to try and pull off the same thing on the other flank.


Home Stadium for 2018/19 Campaign: Oleksiy Butovsky Vorskla Stadium (Poltava)


GOALKEEPERS: 1: Bohdan Shust, 21: Oleksandr Tkachenko

DEFENDERS: 3: Andro Giorgadze, 4: Ihor Perduta, 5: Najeep Yakubu, 23: Vadim Sapai, 25: Yevhen Martynenko, 33: Olexandr Chyzhov, 44: Ardin Dallku, 50: Ibrahim Kane,66:  Artur

MIDFIELDERS: 6: Oleksandr Sklyar, 7: Gegam Kadimyan, 8: Artem Habelok, 11: Vyacheslav Sharpar, 13: Marian Mysyk, 17: Volodymyr Chesnakov, 19: Volodymyr Odariuk, 29: Dmytro Kravchenko, 30: Aleksandre Kobakhidze, 82: Pavlo Rebenok

FORWARDS: 9: Mykhailo Serhiichuk, 10: Vladyslav Kulach, 14: Nicolas Careca, 26: Yuriy Kolomoets
Vorskla began the season in rather disappointing fashion. However, it was to be expected that they would lose to the Ukrainian big two in Shakhtar and Dynamo. 2 other losses and 4 wins have meant that they sit in 5thplace in the UPL ahead of their return to the Europa League. Vorskla finished third last season matching their best ever league finish since 1997. Vasyl Sachko’s has retained the majority of last season’s bronze medal side and due to their European inclusion have been able to recruit a couple Brazilians, a Ghanaian and a Malian. Artur, who signed from Internacional, has been a regular at left back, whilst Nicolas Careca, on loan from Gremio, has featured largely off the bench for the Poltava side and has one goal in 6 appearances. One thing Vorskla have been lacking in their 8 games so far this season is a consistent goal scoring forward. 
Will Yuri Kolomoets rediscover his goalscoring form in the UEL?

Vladyslav Kulach, is the side’s top scorer with 2 goals whilst his other forward partners, aside from Careca, are yet to open to their accounts. Vorskla have edged out their opponents in the league, with dogged and aggressive defensive displays. The side’s creative players; Kobakhidze and Sharpar do have the ability to put in quality balls or thread passes, however its their forward team mates, namely target men, Kolomoets or Serhiychuk who have been unable to convert chances. Kolomoets, who went a lengthy scoring run at the beginning of last season, has since had a significant dip in form and has been a shadow of the player than got a call up to the Ukraine National Team last autumn. 
Vorskla Poltava go into their Europa League campaign as the underdogs. Their group holds formidable pedigree in Arsenal, Sporting Lisbon and FK Qarabag. All the sides have featured in European club competitions consistently in recent seasons. However, Vorskla go into this campaign with nothing to lose which may lead them to pull off a few shocks. Arsenal, have a new manager in Unai Emery, and it is more than likely that most of his first XI will be rested during the group stage round as he focuses on the Premier League. A probable sell out crowd for the tie in Poltava may buoy Vorskla to get a result.
Sporting Lisbon are recovering after a tumultuous summer, featuring fans beating up players and in response, losing many of their key men. Yet again, Vorskla may be able to take advantage of this. Qarabag enter the Europa League having participated in last season’s Champions League. On paper, they look to be the most likely side that Vorskla could get a positive result out of. As mentioned previously, Vorskla have got no expectations heading into this tough group and as a result the players will be able to go out and enjoy the occasion of being able to play in some of Europe’s top stadiums, including Baku, where the Europa League final will be held next May.
It is likely that Vasyl Sachko will line his side up as he has done for most league games this season, with a 4-2-3-1 formation. He will have two holding midfielders, two wide players and a supporting striker playing behind the target man up front. 

Pavlo Rebenok
The left midfielder will be relishing a chance to come up against some top clubs. Whilst he has yet to hit hit peak form in terms of delivery and assists this season, registering just one so far in 8 games, his side’s forwards will be looking to pick up their own form in order to convert the opportunities he provides. 

A seasoned UPL veteran, aged 33, he isn’t the quickest anymore, but he his dogged, aggressive and does help out with the defensive side of things on the left flank.

Vladyslav Kulach
The secondary forward joined on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2017, where he has remained for a second season. At the age of 25, he has yet to gain a senior appearance for his parent club but has been well versed in first team football with various loans across the UPL. He has started the season off strongly, having scored 2 goals in 6 games, he is currently his side’s top scorer and most potent attacking threat. 

He is technically gifted, being able to dribble well with the ball and he possesses some pace. However, in games against the bigger sides he does sometimes get lost. So it will depend on whether he is able to up his game against the likes of Arsenal and Sporting. If Vorskla are going to score goals in this campaign it will most likely come from the boots of Kulach. 


THE UPL IS BACK! After a short hiatus due to the international break, Ukraine’s top division resumes play this weekend. The past fortnight has been extremely enjoyable for fans of the Ukraine National Team as they grabbed maximum points from their opening Nations League games. 

A last minute winner away against Czech Republic, a match that we saw live from the stands, caused jubilation amongst the large travelling support and from the millions watching back home in Ukraine. Ukraine added to this with a narrow win over Slovakia in an empty Arena Lviv. Whilst the playing style still raises questions and the lack of a killer edge still remains unsolved, Ukraine are in pole position to qualify for League A and the Nations League play offs. Marlos was particularly impressive against the Czechs whilst Karavayev and Matvienko caught the eye in the match versus the Slovaks.
Aside from the Nations League, the UPL ended two weeks ago with some shock results. Dynamo Kyiv were hopeless as they succumbed to a home defeat to Karpaty Lviv thanks to the wizardry of Ukraine U21 international, Mariyan Shved. This has seriously set Dynamo back in the title race, even at this early stage of the season. 

Beating Shakhtar home and away turns is not enough when the side drops points against the lower sides. Will the international break have helped Dynamo to recuperate and shake off their poor form going into the break or did it come at the wrong time? Zorya Luhansk are their next opponents who return to action having seen off Arsenal Kyiv in a 5-0 rout two weeks ago. We will see… 

The top two in the table also meet this week, with Oleksandriya hosting free scoring Shakhtar. Oleksandriya drew 2-2 to FC Lviv before the break and that result could set the precedent that will see them slowly return to their predicted mid table ranking. Shakhtar, and Junior Moraes in particular, have been on top form since their loss to Dynamo and they will be trying to halt any fairytale title challenges in their tracks on Saturday afternoon. 
Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests. 
Our eighth guest of the 2018 – 19 season is sport’s journalist, Nestor Watach. Nestor is a British Ukrainian, raised in Leeds. He is a diehard Leeds United fan but also follows Dynamo Kyiv and Ukraine due to his Ukrainian roots. 
Nestor’s Dad – Michael Watach – Leeds’ Biggest Fan

His passion for Leeds United comes from his ‘football-obsessed’ Dad. Nestor explains “Because my dad was a veteran groundhopper from his time supporting Leeds, every overseas holiday I had growing up was either for a Dynamo Kyiv European match or a Ukraine qualifier; such as taking me to the old Wembley in 1998 (Lobanovskiy’s legendary Dynamo side against Arsenal), Barry Town, Rome, Paris… and eventually back to the motherland for the first time in 2005. I’ve been back plenty of times since, most recently for the Champions League final in May.” Nestor’s holiday experiences resonate a lot with our own; booking trips to locations where Ukraine or Dynamo are playing and making sure the journey revolves around that! 
Nestor has also been to to each summer tournament that Ukraine have qualified for; Germany in 2006, home ground in 2012, and France in 2016. Nestor told us that “I was very privileged to have been there for Ukraine’s first ever World Cup match in Leipzig, even if it was a thrashing by Spain, but the all-time highlight was the 2-1 win over Sweden at the Olympiyskiy in 2012.” We are certainly jealous that Nestor saw these two historic games live whilst we skived off school to watch the early Spain kick off and then watched the Sweden match on TV too as it was mid way through GCSE exam season!
Nestor in his Leeds Utd Shirt behind A. Shevchenko – Euro 2012

Further to his obvious passion for football, we asked Nestor whether this drove him towards his current career as a sports journalist. Nestor told us “In terms of sports journalism, I was doing amateur writing and working boring admin jobs, and really wanted to do something I enjoyed. I’m lucky that I was in a position to do a master’s course in sports journalism in Sunderland, just a short commute from where I was living in Newcastle. It’s just finished now and hopefully I’ll be getting my foot in the door somewhere soon.” We wish Nestor the best of luck in his future sports writing exploits! 
As European football returns next week we decided to make Nestor reminisce about some memorable UCL moments involving Ukrainian sides. “It’s going back a long way, but when top-level European football wasn’t a closed shop, it was amazing to see Dynamo Kyiv go toe-to-toe with Bayern Munich, beat Real Madrid, and make the semi-finals of the Champions League. Shakhtar do remarkably well to get to the odd quarter final, but increasingly it feels like there’s a ceiling on what clubs in their position can achieve, and they probably push it to the limit.”  
Dynamo Kyiv v Shakhtar Donetsk – 2013
With the domestic league quality dwindling in recent seasons due to the War with Russia, we wanted to know what UPL moments also stood out for him in his memory. “In terms of domestic football, I followed it closest when I was studying abroad in Kyiv back in 2013. Shakhtar had an incredible team then and walked the title, but it was still fun. I went to several Dynamo matches, including in the Europa League, but the highlight was definitely the big Dynamo – Shakhtar match at the Olympiyskiy. Yarmolenko gave Dynamo the lead but Shakhtar won it with two Mkhitaryan goals.” 
In more recent years Nestor admits that it has become more difficult to follow the UPL on a regular basis. He still keeps afloat of the results and tries to watch the Ukrainian sides in Europe, but acknowledges that it’s been a while. “I suppose part of the issue is access in the UK. Relying on dodgy streams can be pretty frustrating. And in terms of writing, sadly there’s not a lot of demand on Ukrainian football so more recently my focus has been more on Spanish football and the Premier League.” 
We were also interested to find out a little bit more about Nestor’s recent work. Nestor has written pieces for ‘The Square Ball’, ‘These Football Times’ and ‘This is Anfield’ over the past few months with a piece about the Leeds United Four, in particular, being a fascinating read. Links to these can be found below. Nestor added “The Leeds’ midfield one was the most enjoyable piece I’ve written, because I was only a baby during that season so it’s as distant to me as the Don Revie team. It was so much fun to go back and watch all the footage and get to properly live it for the first time.” 
In terms of works in progress and what we can expect from Nestor in the near future, he told us “I’m currently putting together something on Arsene Wenger’s first title win with Monaco, which should be a long and in-depth read. I’ve even managed to speak to one of his former players about it.

At the moment I’m looking for my first proper journalist job, so we’ll see where that takes me. But while I’ve got time on my hands I’ll be taking the opportunity to do a lot more freelancing… Luckily Bielsa at Leeds is one of the most compelling stories in football this season and there’s plenty to write about there.”
As Nestor is quite the Leeds fan, we wanted to know how much he rated the club’s chances at getting automatic promotion this season.“I think the biggest question with Bielsa is always that of burnout, but the regular international breaks and massively increased fitness levels of the players should hold us in good stead. It’s early days but apart from Boro it looks really open at the top this year, so hopefully there’s places up for grabs. If Leeds can maintain the performances of the early season, and avoid key injuries, I’m very confident. But those are big ifs!” 
With Nestor’s Ukrainian background, we weren’t going to pass on asking him which Ukrainian side he saw going furthest in Europe this season. With three Ukrainian sides kicking off next midweek we wanted to know who had the best chances.Commenting on Shakhtar’s chances in the UCL, Nestor told us “It doesn’t feel right that Lokomotiv Moscow got the top seed position ahead of Shakhtar as a league winner, but I suppose the coefficient doesn’t lie and they’re paying the price for other Ukrainian teams underperforming. It looks like a transitional season for them, so they’ll do well to qualify out of the group, but a third place finish might be good for them because you’d fancy them as one of the favourites in the Europa League.”
Moving onto the Ukrainian contingent in the Europa League, “There’s no excuses for Dynamo, but it’s probably too big of an ask for Vorskla to qualify. The big two should definitely be playing knockout football come 2019, and then it’s the annual question of whether they can be fresh and at their best following the winter break. Hopefully they can both improve in that regard because it’s often been their undoing.” 
Overall Nestor is predicting Shakhtar to finish third but sees them going deepest in the Europa League knock out stages.

The Leeds United Ukrainians outside the NSC Olimpiyskiy


A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.


Desna Chernihiv v Arsenal Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: Desna’s results this season have been rather unpredictable, winning away at Zorya one week then losing at home to Olimpik. However, I feel they will finally pick up their first home win of the season in a very narrow low scoring win, as is traditional of Friday night games. 1-0
Nestor’s prediction: Arsenal to bounce back with a conservative approach following the thrashing before the international break. 1-1


Oleksandriya v Shakhtar Donetsk
Todos’ prediction: Shakhtar may have been running rampant before the International break but I feel that if they are going to be challenged by anyone other than Dynamo this season it will surely be Oleksandriya. Will finish all square. 1-1 
Nestor’s prediction: Despite a tricky away trip to this season’s surprise package, I expect Shakhtar will still have too much. Júnior Moraes to maintain his hot streak.   3-1
RESULT: 0-2: MARLOS (26′), KOVALENKO (88′)

Karpaty Lviv v Vorskla Poltava
Todos’ prediction: Mariyan Shved has been on fire over the past month with goals against Dynamo and picking up two more on International duty with the U21s. Hence, why I feel that he’ll steer his side to a comfortable home victory against an out of sorts and inconsistent Vorskla. 2-0
Nestor’s prediction: Karpaty have been unpredictable this season. With Vorskla having one eye on the Emirates, they’ll lose this one. 2-1
RESULT: 0-1: DALLKU (90+2′)

Olimpik Donetsk v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: This certainly wont be a high scoring game. Olimpik are quite solid at the back but do lack the killer blow in front of goal whereas Mariupol are the opposite. Score draw but not much else going on in this game. 1-1
Nestor’s prediction: Mariupol will be bottom come the end of the weekend, but this will be tight. 1-0
RESULT: 1-3: VAKULENKO PEN (26′) / FEDORCHUK (9′ & 89′), FOMIN (80′)
Zorya Luhansk v Dynamo Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: Surely Dynamo can’t go three games without a win the league or five games in all competitions? I have a feeling Zorya’s inconsistency this season will come to haunt them as Dynamo will be determined to notch three points up to prevent an even wider gap from opening between themselves and Shakhtar at the top. 1-2
Nestor’s prediction: Dynamo’s poor form to continue on this tough away trip. 2-2
RESULT: 1-1: HROMOV (44′) / SYDORCHUK (67′)

Chornomorets Odesa v FC Lviv
Todos’ prediction: Chornomorets continue to surprise me, week in week out. They have been tough to beat at home so far this season and I’m predicting they will resume their UPL campaign with a win. 2-1
Nestor’s prediction: A routine win for the home side. 2-0
RESULT: 0-1: DUARTE (43′)


Total scores after week 7
Todos v Guests
D1 L4

UEFA Nations League Preview – Czech Republic v Ukraine

UEFA Nations League Preview

UEFA’s new continental international competition kicks off on Thursday amid rejoice and confusion across Europe. Some are excited that this new concept will reinvigorate the international scene by offering more competitive games and decreasing the amount of friendlies. Others are generally just confused as to what the Nations League is all about. So here’s a simple and concise explanation of the latest football tournament to grace Europe:
The inaugural Nations League group stage round will run from September to November 2018. There are 4 leagues: A, B, C and D. Within each league there are 4 groups consisting of either 3 or 4 national teams. All the sides from the same group will play each other over home and away. Each side that tops their group will be promoted to the league above them, whilst the team that finishes bottom will be relegated to the league below. In League A, the four top sides progress to a final knock out tournament, which will be held next summer, to decide the Nations League champion. 

Whilst UEFA constructed this new concept in the hope of eradicating meaningless friendlies, as a result of some groups consisting of 3 teams, this means certain sides will still play friendlies to fill the gap in their calendars when the other two sides in their NL group battle it out. Despite that, as the Nations League does have a trophy to be won and a guaranteed qualifying place at EURO 2020 up for grabs from each League, traditionally weaker sides will have a greater incentive and a genuine chance to reach a major tournament.

UEFA explaining the Nations League format
Ukraine’s new Joma Kits

Ukraine are in League B and will face the Czech Republic and Slovakia for a chance to gain promotion to League A. They kick off against the Czechs on 6thSeptember in a small town called Uherske Hradiste. 

Ukraine go into the tournament on the back of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup (and not wanting to) last autumn whilst they more recently won the world renowned and prestigious Kirin Cup against Japan in March! In addition, a few days prior to the game kicking off, the Football Federation of Ukraine revealed the new 2018/19 Joma kits. For the first time ever Ukraine was given a third ‘white’ kit. Whilst it is unlikely that we will see it in use, it certainly stands out! The home and away kits are relatively simplistic but with a subtle ‘Tryzub and traditional Ukrainian embroidery’ design on the abdomen and sides, alongside ‘Glory to Ukraine’ text featuring on the back of the collar, it still oozes class, despite the usual reputation of the Joma brand name being cheap and unattractive . 

The Squad

Ukraine’s 23 man squad:

Andriy Pyatov, Denys Boyko, Andriy Lunin
Yevhen Khacheridi, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Oleksandr Karavaev, Mykola Mativenko, Serhiy Kryvstov, Yevhen Makarenko, Mykyta Burda, Oleh Danchenko, Andriy Tsurikov, Vasyl Kravets (Injured)
Andriy Yarmolenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Taras Stepanenko, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Marlos, Viktor Tsyhankov, Vitaliy Buyalskyi
Yevhen Seleznyov, Roman Yaremchuk
Members of the Ukraine squad have had a mixed start to the season. The likes of Ruslan Malinovskyi and Roman Yaremchuk have been highly instrumental for their club sides in Belgium so far whilst Marlos has been impressive pulling the strings for Shakhtar as has debutant Andriy Tsurikov, playing on the left, for the high flying Oleksandriya. 

However, others have not had the best of beginnings. Andriy Yarmolenko has yet to secure a starting spot at West Ham, having completed just one 90-minute game since January and Viktor Tsyhankov has yet to reach the electric form of last season as was seen in Dynamo’s underwhelming performances against Ajax in the UCL play offs. Despite this, Yarmolenko is prolific for the national team and it is more than likely that he will step up to the occasion during the Nations League as he chases down Andriy Shevchenko’s goal scoring record from the right flank. 

Andriy Lunin at CD Leganes
Young goalkeeper, Andriy Lunin impressed during his friendly appearances for Real Madrid and has since joined Leganes on loan but has not made an appearance yet. It’s unclear if Shevchenko will experiment with the goalkeeping position despite the fact that Andriy Pyatov and Denys Boyko cannot be relied upon consistently as they always seem to have a mistake in them which has cost their club sides results already this season. 

Overall the squad looks strong in both the defensive and midfield areas but the forward position still lacks consistency and experience. Artem Biesedin, pulled out early last week due to injury, and he himself is far from the quality desired for a national team striker. Yevhen Seleznyov has replaced him but apart from scoring tap ins, he is getting on at 33, and is not the long term solution needed to complete an optimum Ukraine national team starting line up. 


Predicted Ukraine Starting XI
Shevchenko has played the same formation throughout his tenure. He has largely followed his predecessor in playing 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders, two wingers and a CAM. 

It is highly likely that Shevchenko will start Malinovksyi in one of the holding positions alongside Stepanenko with Marlos in front of them. Zinchenko has started in recent fixtures but his lack of playing time and the better form of other players will surely force Shevchenko to leave him on the bench. Oleh Danchenko will most likely make his debut at right back, taking over from Bohdan Butko, who has not been called up on this occasion. 

Ukraine will look to play on the counter attack, aiming to utilise the pace and ability of Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka down the flanks providing the link up play for the lone striker, Yaremchuk, up top. The main problem will be goals. Ukraine look quite solid at the back but it will depend on whether Malinovskyi and Marlos can transfer their club form to the national team, which they as of yet have been unable to do when playing for Ukraine. 

Key Men

Ruslan Malinovskyi

Ruslan  Malinovskyi is the most in-form Ukrainian player at the moment. Plying his trade in the Jupiler Belgian League, he has become KRC Genk’s key man as they sit second in the table. He has scored 4 goals and provided 3 assists in the league and scored 3 goals in the Europa League qualifiers, helping his side to the group stages. His set pieces and passes are on par with a peak Andrea Pirlo, consistently scoring free kicks and providing pin point crosses and through balls for his team mates. He also recently disclosed that the likes of Celta Vigo and other top European sides were after his services in the summer transfer window but he ultimately stayed at Genk and has since signed a new bumper contract.

Roman Yaremchuk

Roman Yaremchuk scored 9 goals last season for Gent and has scored 3 so far this season. He largely plays out wide for his club, but is a centre forward by trade. Whilst he has yet to make his Ukraine debut, Roman will most probably start up front on his own for Shevchenko’s side. With a bit of pace, a tall build and an eye for goal from anywhere inside the box, he may be the solution to Ukraine’s long winded striker problem that has stretched on since the day, Andriy Shevchenko retired in 2012.


Marlos will look to finally get a goal for the national team after 7 appearances without one. He is instrumental for his club side Shakhtar, where he provides countless assists and goals, but he has not been able to carry this form over into his international performances. Usually playing on the right for Shakhtar, he will be made to play through the middle for Shevchenko which is he more than capable of doing, having experience of this free roam at Shakhtar. Whilst some do not like the fact he is being chosen for the squad due to him being Brazilian by birth, as he is a player of such quality and a regular starter for his club, Shevchenko should continue to select him. However, if he continues to underperform for the national side, questions will start to arise as to whether he is as integral to the side as Shevchenko sees him to be.

Zorya Londonsk’s Nations League CZE V UKR Score Prediction: 0-2

Background on the Czech Republic National Team 

By Guest Writer: Czech Football expert – Chris Boothroyd 

Ahead of this week’s Nations League game against the Czech Republic, we have teamed up with Chris Boothroyd from @CzeFootball and AmongSkyscrapers.co.uk, who has provided his analysis on the Czech side. He’ll be letting us know who is in the Czech squad, what their tactics are likely to be and what Ukraine will need to look out for when they step out in front of the sell out crowd at the Městský fotbalový stadion Miroslava Valenty.

Chris Boothroyd:

‘The Czech Republic enter the Nations League in limbo. After a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign, UEFA’s newest competition will allow the Czechs to continue rebuilding, though to what blueprint everybody will follow nobody seems to know.
Admittedly, head coach Karel Jarolím has been dealt a bad hand in terms of fitness, form and worryingly, consistency. But even with those barriers, there is a feeling that Jarolím has not yet settled on a system, let alone who would comprise his first XI. 
His relatively recent contract renewal spoke more of a lack of available alternatives than it did his own achievements at international level.
But, the Nations League offers a second chance. Not just for the coach, but for some relatively high-profile players too. For others, it is an opportunity to cement their place and catch the eye of curious onlookers.’

The Squad

‘Jarolím’s first competitive squad for almost a year has already undergone some radical changes. 
Within a few days of the nominations being announced, Antonín Barák (Sampdoria), Bořek Dočkal (Philadelphia Union), Jan Kopic (Viktoria Plzeň), Jiří Pavlenka (Werder Bremen) all withdrew due to a mixture of illness and injury. Almost immediately after Slavia Prague’s dominant 4-0 win over title rivals Viktoria Plzeň, Jarolím announced that the Vršovice trio of Ondřej Kolář, Stanislav Tecl and Jaromír Zmrhal would take their places.
Taking an actual look at the squad itself, there appears to be an evident lack of depth at centre-back, with only Jakub Brabec and Tomáš Kalas the only recognised central defenders called up by Jarolím. Worryingly for the Czechs (but a positive for Ukraine) these two have only played five games of football between them this season. However, Jarolím has used Filip Novák as a left-sided centre-back before, though the Trabzonspor man is normally a swashbuckling fullback-come-wingback by trade.
Elsewhere, Nürnberg’s Ondřej Petrák is the only newcomer to the squad and is in line to win his maiden international appearance after a solid start to the Bundesliga season.’

The System

‘Karel Jarolím has switched between a back three and a back four in recent games and the jury’s still out as to which system he’ll use. The lack of recognised centre-backs hints that he’ll revert to a back four, though you can’t discount the 62-year-old fielding Novák on the left, or dropping either Petrák into the back line.
My gut is that Jarolím will go with a 4-3-3, or a variation thereof. Look for expansive play down the wings as for all their central defensive woes, the Czechs are laden with proven quality at fullback, especially so down the right.’ 

Ones to watch

Patrik Schick

‘The obvious name to mention would be that of Patrik Schick, with the forward being the poster boy for the future of Czech football. But the Roma man plays second fiddle at international level to the prolific Michael Krmenčík.

Michael Krmenčík

Meant in the nicest way possible, Krmenčík is the archetypal Championship striker but with quality to burn and plenty of potential yet to realise. 

At 6ft 2in he’s got the size and strength to bully and harass opposition defenders and his record in front of goal for club and country is second to none. But where he comes into his own is in his hold-up play and gamesmanship. It’s little surprise that a host of European clubs have been linked with him recently, with Club Brugge and most recently Bordeaux believed to have enquired about his availability. 

Tomáš Souček

The most in-form Czech heading into the Nations League tie is Tomáš Souček. A target for Fiorentina, the gangly 23-year-old is a do-it-all central midfielder and although he normally given a primarily defensive responsibility, he has quite the knack for finding the back of the net, as he two goals for Slavia at the weekend demonstrate.

Souček has had his growing pains and was infamously dropped after a breakout season in 2015-16 in favour of more high-profile signings when Slavia started splashing the cash post-takeover. But the academy graduate has matured into one of the most tactically astute, likeable and reliable footballers in the Czech league and is one of the first names on the team sheet for both club and country. 
As noted earlier, the Czechs are well stocked at fullback, with Bundesliga stalwarts Theo Gebre Selassie and Pavel Kadeřábek squabbling over who’ll start on the right. Kadeřábek is the archetypal modern fullback; equally comfortable going forward as he is defensively and like many modern fullbacks, he’s a converted winger. The Czechs are equally strong in goal, with Tomáš Koubek and Tomáš Vaclík set to do battle for the number one shirt.’ 

Chris’ Nations League CZE V UKR Score Prediction: 2-1

We would like to thank Chris for taking the time to contribute to this Inaugural Nations League preview and would ask you give his social media pages and website a look for more interesting and insightful content including but not restricted to Czech football via the links below:

⚽️Czefootball on Twitter

⚽️Chris’ website 

Czech Logistics and Czech Republic NT camp info with Ondrej Zlamal 

We have also been in touch with Ondrej Zlamal who works for Czech 4 Sport and UEFA.com to give us an insight into the logistical situation as to why the match is being played in such a small town and stadium alongside asking for a perceptive on how the Czech management side view the new Nations League tournament as a concept. 

ZL: What’s the story behind the match being held in Uherské Hradiště? What is the reasoning behind such a move for a National Team game? Is this a regular occurrence or a new initiative, especially as the stadium size is under 10,000 in a relatively small town?
Městský fotbalový stadion Miroslava Valenty
Ondrej Zlamal:“The stadium in Uherske Hradiste was recently reconstructed for UEFA EURO 2015 held in the Czech Republic. It is a cosy, nice stadium and the fans in Uherské Hradiště are likely to fill it up to the capacity as they did not have many international games in town. 

Czech coach Karel Jarolím was a coach of local club Slovácko and he likes the site. I think it is a good decision, the game will have a good atmosphere, better than in Prague where a lot of games are held and the fans are a bit spoilt.”
ZL: What is the state of the current Czech national team?
Ondrej Zlamal:“The team is under a transition period after Rosický, Baroš, Čech, Lafata, Plašil and other older players ended their international careers. Players like Darida, Barák, Jankto or Vaclík are taking the role of the leaders. The team is suffering from a number of injuries with the likes of Pavlenka, Suchý, Darida, Dočkal, Kopic and Barák being injured and most of them would have been likely to start.”
ZL: Are the Czech team confident going into this new UEFA tournament? What are the coaching staff hoping to get out of this new concept? 
Ondrej Zlamal:“The Czechs need good results and good displays after missing out on the last FIFA World Cup. They definitely need to avoid relegation as this would cause problems with qualifying pots.”

Ondrej’s Nations League CZE V UKR Score Prediction: 1-1

We would also like to thank Ondrej for taking the time out of his busy football reporting schedule to reply to our budding questions about the Czech approach to the Nations League game against Ukraine. We kindly ask you to give his social media pages a follow for more interesting and insightful content about Czech football via the links below:

⚽️Ondrej on Twitter (English)

⚽️Ondrej on Twitter (Czech)

⚽️Czech 4 Sport Website


The last 100% record in the UPL has fallen. Dynamo Kyiv join the rest of the league in having failed to win at least of their fixtures so far this season. Chornomorets Odesa were the perpetrators that brought Dynamo down to Earth and given them some food for thought in terms of how much the team is progressing and how seriously problems need to be addressed. Whilst Dynamo did play a weakened line up, with one eye on their UCL play off second leg, the reserves were unable to capitalise on their starts as they ended up drawing 1-1. The one positive for Dynamo was that promising talent, Nazariy Rusyn scored again and overtook Biesedin’s season tally in the process. On the other hand, Chornomorets continue to cause shocks. Despite being tipped to struggle this season, they have so far been resilient and this result reinforces that. 
Fabrizio Ravanelli
Elsewhere in the UPL, Oleksandriya continued their storming start to the season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Vorskla, whilst Shakhtar triumphed in a goal filled 5-2 Donetsk Derby win over a stagnating Olimpik side. After picking up their first point the week before, Ravanelli’s Arsenal Kyiv have gone onto pick up their first win after seeing off Karpaty Lviv. It seems the Barnsley fans on Twitter last week, who raised the alarm over new Karpaty manager, Jose Morais’ managerial record, are being proven right from the outset!
Away from the league, it was another hugely important week for Ukrainian clubs in Europe. Both Dynamo and Zorya had tough second legs to get past in order to make their aspirational group stages. Dynamo were first up against Ajax. Although they were 3-1 down on aggregate, it was all to play in Kyiv. Despite an electric opening 10 minutes, Dynamo faded and folded quickly. If it were not for a missed penalty from Dusan Tadic and the heroics of Denys Boyko then Dynamo would have been humiliated at the Olympiyskiy. In typical Dynamo fashion of recent years, they bowed out without a whimper with a 0-0 draw, minimally threatening the Ajax goal in what was a must win game. 
On the other hand, Zorya put up a much better fight against RB Leipzig. Having fended off their corporate backed opponents in the first leg in a 0-0 draw, this second leg proved to be a goal fest. Leipzig went ahead, Rafael Ratao drew Luhansk level. Gordienko edged Zorya in front after break after a stunning counter attacking move. Unfortunately, history repeated itself for Zorya, as Leipzig drew level and got their winner from the penalty spot in the 90thminute. Sheer devastation. This means that Shakhtar will be the sole representatives of the UPL in the Champions League this season, whilst Dynamo and Vorskla head for the Europa League group stages.
Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests. 
Aberdeen and Pittodrie
Our seventh guest of the 2018 – 19 season is Clark Gillies. Clark has been a long time travelling Scotland supporter, whilst following Aberdeen and Wimbledon as his club sides. We asked Clark for a little background into why he is so fond of these two teams. Clark told us “I grew up in West Kilbride in Ayrshire and as a child of the 1980’s living in Scotland can be seen as something of a glory hunter, what with the successful Sir Alex Ferguson Aberdeen team of the time!” Aberdeen is Clark’s main team, but he grew an affection for AFC Wimbledon due to having cousins living in Staines in Surrey. 
The Crazy Gang
Clark added “They were all Arsenal fans, and we used to visit them a lot, and around 1988-ish we were down and planned to attend an Arsenal match, but could not get tickets, and looking at the other fixtures, Wimbledon were playing Coventry. So as a 7-year-old I was introduced to Plough Lane and the Crazy Gang, and just grew to love it!” With the commitments of family life these days, Clark does not get as many opportunities to see them both at the present but he tries his best when he can.
As mentioned previously, Clark is an avid and passionate Scotland fan! He has supported them both home and away for years. Clark cast his mind back to when he first started travelling to Scotland matches “I began in my university years, me and a few friends travelled to Riga in Latvia in 2000 for a World Cup qualifier, which Scotland won 1-0.
Since then he has attended around 52 away games right across Europe (and even as far as Yokohama in Japan), including Ukraine in Kyiv in 2006. Clark still goes to home and away games, and has exciting trips to Israel and Albania booked for later this year. 
Aside from the physical aspect of watching football, as a travelling fan, Clark is also currently involved with the Scotland fans charity, the Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal. Clark explained “We are a small charity from Scotland who make donations at EVERY game the Scotland national team play at. Since 2003 we have made 67 donations and handed over £100,000 in money to organisations and charities that help children and young adults.”
Clark (L) in Hungary with TASA, March 2018
The Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal’s success stories are awe inspiring. Clark noted that “over the years we have helped others in ways like building a playground at a psycho-neurological hospital in Moldova, providing computer training for children suffering from cancer in Austria, medical care for a Special School of Arts for Children with Impaired Vision in Ukraine, and incubator units for premature babies in Croatia.”
You can find out more about the donation in Kyiv in 2006 via the links that can be after the interview.
Clark has a big fascination for football beyond the old Iron Curtain. We asked him to shed light on how this intrigue came about and how he has developed and grown his links to football in the Central and Eastern European regions. 
“I’ve always had an interest in those areas of the footballing world, which I think stems from when Celtic played Partizan Belgrade in the early 90’s. These teams from behind the Iron Curtain just seemed so exotic to me, and I just grew to find out more and more.”
However, his introduction to Ukraine was actually by total accident.
In 2003, his then future wife Victoria was in Lithuania with Christian Aid, and Clark was there for Lithuania v Scotland in a Euro 2004 qualifier.
“I asked this blonde girl at the table next to me in a restaurant if she could translate the menu and she said she could not read Lithuanian as she was from a country I probably had never heard of…. I asked where and she said “Ukraine”…. to which I replied “Shevchenko, Rebrov, Dynamo Kyiv etc etc” and she was actually really impressed that I know about her country.”
“Later that year me and a friend from University planned a trip to Moscow, but I missed my connection in Amsterdam, and so they sent me to Moscow via Kyiv, and while I never left the airport, it stuck with me that I must visit Ukraine properly some day. So when I got home from Russia I started planning a trip to Ukraine, and remembered Victoria who I met in Lithuania.”
“After exchanging a few emails it was agreed that I would visit her in her city of Ternopil, and she would show me around Western Ukraine, including Lviv.”
One thing lead to another, we visited Moldova and also attended a Belarus v Scotland match in Minsk, and in 2006 we got married and have two great kids these days!
On the topic of Eastern Europe, Clark also told us a rather typical and amusing anecdote from his Moldova trip that was mentioned in the latter paragraph. 
Moldova v Scotland, October 2004
“One story that always stick out is when we played Moldova in 2004. I had just met Victoria (my wife from Ukraine) the previous year, and with young love said if she wanted to visit Moldova to meet my friends (as I was booked to travel via Kyiv any way). Victoria to my surprise said yes, but as she lives in Ternopil, we decided to get the bus from Lviv to Chisinau. 
At 3am we arrive at the Ukraine-Moldova border and the guards take my passport… 10 minutes later some big Ukrainian border guard asks me to follow him off the bus. As I spoke no Ukrainian at the time Victoria did all the talking…They got into a pretty heated argument, then suddenly she stops talking with a blank look on her face… 
It turns out that he did not believe any fans from Scotland would travel to Moldova for a football match, and certainly not at 3am in the morning from the Ukrainian side… On top of all this Victoria added “oh and he wants one of your shirts!”.”
It turns out that he thought I was one of the Scotland football team players travelling to Moldova to meet up with my team mates, as he was convinced I must play for Dynamo Kyiv or Karpaty Lviv, and was basically trying to get a signed shirt off me! Thankfully I got to Moldova without any further problems after that, but that particular trip has always stuck in my mind.
Oleksiy Mikhailichenko at Rangers
Clark has dabbled in a bit of football writing in the past. His article for ‘These Football Times’ was really insightful and interesting looking into the links between Scottish and Ukrainian football that flourished during the 1990s as Ukrainians took the SPL by storm. We would highly recommend that anyone interested in Ukrainian football gives it a read! A link to it will be found in the links section below which can be found after this interview.
With Scotland, Ukraine and football being so close to Clark’s heart it seemed only right for us to ask what he saw was coming next for both country’s football scenes. “I think Scottish football is on the rise, but as for Ukrainian football it is not helped by the current climate over there just now. Hopefully Dynamo can recover from getting knocked out of the UCL by Ajax and do well in the Europa League whilst it was a shame about Zorya coming up just short tonight.
Furthermore, we wanted to know Clark’s overall hopes and predictions for the UPL this season. “In terms of the league, Dynamo look to have improved a lot from last season, and if early form is to continue, they should nick it from Shakhtar, but with Dynamo, you know they have a habit of switching off in the wrong games at critical stages of the season!” 
As for Ukrainian clubs’ exploits in Europe, we asked Clark who he thought would reach the furthest stage. “I think Dynamo will probably progress the furthest out of all the teams, as CL seems heavily stacked to favor that elite group that Shakhtar do not fall into in Europe, but hope all do well.”
Keep up to date with the latest from Clark, The Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal and and don’t forget to check out his written pieces via the links provided below. 


A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.


Vorskla Poltava v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: Chornomorets may have grabbed a point against Dynamo last week and continually seem to trump me when I’ve gone against them so far this season but I shall be going against them once more. With Vorskla being at home and needing to vindicate their loss to Oleksandriya last week, they will edge this one.1-0
Clark’s prediction: ‘This should be a good mid table game and pretty hard to call, but saying a low scoring Vorskla win’2-0
RESULT: 2-1: Kulach (49′), Ryzhuk OG (87′) / Chorniy (63′)


Shakhtar Donetsk v Mariupol

Todos’ prediction: Shakhtar are now firmly in their groove. Junior Moraes and Marlos are both on red hot form at the moment and I don’t see them slowing down against Mariupol. The Azov side aren’t a pushover but Shakhtar will be just too overwhelming. 3-0
Clark’s prediction: ‘Nice “romantic” tie and something of a derby, but honestly can not see past Shakhtar steamrolling to victory in this’.4-0
RESULT: 2-0: Moraes (43′) , Dawa OG (56′)


Desna Chernihiv v Olimpik
Todos’ prediction: Desna looked a formidable side last time out as they routed Zorya away. They’ll look to build a win streak as they host an underperforming Olimpik Donetsk. Olimpik’s busy summer of acquiring numerous transfers has as of yet not led them to any scintillating football or form. 2-0
Clark’s prediction: ‘Again, another mid table fixture that could go either way, but suspect draw most likely scenario1-1
RESULT: 0-1: Bilonoh (55′)

FC Lviv v Oleksandriya
Todos’ prediction: Oleksandriya are flying. Dynamo defeat aside they haven’t needed to chase a game yet. They won’t need to this time round either. Oleksandriya will edge it. 0-1
Clark’s prediction: ‘Interesting tie, with Lviv actually having some not bad showings this season, but can not see past an Oleksandriya victory.’ 0-2
RESULT: 2-2: Duarte (8′), Taylor (21′) / Hrytsuk (54′), Sitalo (83′)

Arsenal Kyiv – Zorya Luhansk
Todos’ prediction: After the devastation of their Europa League exit, Zorya will look to put that behind them by focusing solely on the league. Their European exploits seem to have curtailed their league performances and as such will be desperate to get back on track. Arsenal Kyiv seem to be on the up after grabbing 4 points from 2 games but that will end here.  0-2
Clark’s prediction: ‘Arsenal are really struggling since getting back to the top flight, and I imagine this will be a strong Zorya victory, but would be nice for Arsenal to get something.’ 0-3
RESULT: 0-5: Karavaev (5′), Khomchenovsky (13′, 69′), Rafeal Ratao (44′), Lednev (51′)

Dynamo Kyiv v Karpaty Lviv 
Todos’ prediction: I have been blindly backing and expecting Karpaty to pull off wins left, right and centre so far this season but all they have succeeded in is perpetual disappointment. Dynamo will want to make up for last week’s dropped points and will be relentless in hoping to please supporters after the poor showing in the midweek play offs. 3-0
Clark’s prediction: ‘This should be the tie of the weekend! Karpaty do have a habit of raising their game in this fixture. You would not think both teams are at opposite ends of the table, but Dynamo should win.’ 3-0
RESULT: 0-2: Shved (19′, 45+2′)



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Total scores after week 7
Todos v Guests
D1     L4


DAY 1 

The decision to make this away trip was highly spontaneous. Just the week before, Dynamo had beaten Slavia to set up a tie with Ajax Amsterdam. It was relatively close and I had not yet been to the Netherlands so it seemed a perfect opportunity. After raising the idea of going to my friend Jon Spraggon,he was really up for joining up on this quick away trip. With Jon being a Middlesbrough fan, he hadn’t been able to experience a European night with his own club for a long number of years. So on the Monday morning, of the week of the game, we booked a last minute flight from Luton and a room at the Mozart Hotel. 
Our flights were very early on Tuesday. The 7:55am take off meant a 3:00am wake up according to Jon. As he was driving to the airport, I was unable to complain. Arriving at Luton with over 3 hours until our flight, we made it to the departure lounge. Luckily, Jon had some kind of Priority card and we were able to spend the morning in the Business lounge. Free breakfast and a customary Heineken to start the trip off certainly sorted out our tiredness. After taking advantage of the plug sockets to charge our phones, use the toilets with no queues and obviously make sure people knew about it on Instagram, we headed to our gate and boarded our plane. Arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol was quick. We had hardly taken off before we were descending again. Luton Airport and Schiphol really are worlds apart. Riding the travelators to the exit, we hopped on a train and within 20 minutes were in Amsterdam Centraal. The Dutch really are quite an efficient bunch. 
Coming up to almost midday, we had the option to get a tram which would take us directly to our hotel but Jon wanted to see the sights so we had to do the half an hour walk in order to check in and drop our bags off. In addition to walking past sights such as Dam Square, we also got to see the delights of globalisation when passing the likes of Primark and KFC. On top of the long walk combined with the reasonably uncomfortable carry on bag I decided to bring, it was very hot, well over 25 Celsius! Upon eventually arriving at our hotel, The Mozart, that overlooked a canal on Prinsengracht, we were shown to our room. You couldn’t complain with it for the price we paid. However, it was below ground floor level so our hotel window view was not the most picturesque, merely opening to a small concrete courtyard where other rooms also got their only source of ventilation and natural air conditioning. 
Dropping our bags off, we went in search of our first Dutch meal. So where else could we have ended up, other than the Golden Arches. Highly impressed by the bilingualism of workers from all professions, we got our meal, I went for some kind of Dutch McDonalds special burger and Jon went for nuggets. The only positive I took away from that particular experience was the mayo dip they served with the chips. Otherwise the meal price of  9,50 was way too overpriced. 
After this we headed to the Heineken experience, located inside the Heineken Brewery.  21 euros each later, we proceeded with the walk through self guided tour. We saw the brewing process, a bit of the history and then had some tasting opportunities. Three half pints in total of standard Heineken beer would have left us underwhelmed had it not been for the interactive Champions League room kitted out with a replica stadium dugout.

Next we headed for the Rijksmuseum as it was relatively close. As an iconic landmark of Amsterdam, it was understandably heaving with tourists. Luckily I was able to secure a vantage point on top of the ‘t’ in the Iamsterdam sign. Jon tried his best with trying to fit the entire sign in for the photos but unless he stood further back in some water it was always going to a struggle. Talk about lack of dedication from your personal photographer! 
After this we made the short walk through Vondel Park, which is highly similar to Central Park in NYC or Hyde Park in London, but on a smaller scale. Cyclists were everywhere. Not just in the park but on the streets as well. It had initially been refreshing to see a city take to cycling like Amsterdam has, but after a while, their seeming God given rights to cycle as they pleased, with little regard for pedestrians, showed that this concept is best left in Holland. No signalling or slowing down from almost all cyclists was probably the biggest negative of the whole Amsterdam experience for me, which was surprising seeing as the Dutch are so efficient at the majority of things they do. 
Following our brief flirtation with Vondel Park, we carried on walking around the leafy streets, down the sides of countless canals, past the large, picturesque town houses and across the scenic bridges. Jon fancied a pizza, another well known Dutch speciality. So we looked up Pizza places on Tripadvisor and found one with over 1500 reviews. Probably too upmarket looking back in hindsight, and we were lucky to get a table as you usually had to book to get a spot. As we arrived for an early dinner, they were able to accommodate us. A pizza and a couple of bottles of Morreti later, we headed to the East side of Central Amsterdam. 
It was still relatively early in the evening, when we settled at a bar and had a few glasses of Amstel. As the bar was located in the Red Light District, it started to get a lot busier as the night got darker. Neon lights, lingerie clad women and drug dealers were everywhere you looked. Jon and I had a walk around to see what all the fuss was about. There’s no point in denying it; there were a lot of good looking women about. We even stumbled upon a Favorite Chicken in-between the countless smoke filled coffee shops. As the early start to the day began to take its toll, we decided to call it a night and made our way back to the hotel. Having clocked in over 32,000 steps, it was fair to say that we had covered most of Amsterdam’s main sights in the space of half a day. 


The next day we woke up early enough to make the most of the day before we had to head to the stadium to pick up the tickets and soak up the pre match atmosphere. Probably the biggest sight we had left to see was the Anne Frank House, so we made the short journey from our hotel there only to find it was fully booked up. Checking online whether we might be able to see it the day after, resulted in us finding out that it was all booked up until November! 
As a result, we decided to carry on walking around Amsterdam. Having done some asking around on social media, I was able to find out which hotel the Dynamo team were staying at. So we made our way there, slightly outside of the city centre. Our route took us through a deserted Red Light District again, all very quiet bar the Thai Lady-boys who seemed to have taken up certain windows from the ladies who had been using them the previous night. In the middle of the quiet RLD, I was approached by a fellow Ukrainian wearing one of those vintage style WBO Boxing belt t-shirts. I myself was wearing a Tryzub t-shirt so it was not surprising that another Ukrainian asked who I was. Oleksiy, from Cherkassy who was there with his girlfriend, and some other friends, was friendly and we had a brief chat. I was surprised to find out that he was here merely on holiday, not specifically for the Dynamo game. When I mentioned it, he didn’t even know they were in town. 
Anyway, we carried on walking to the Dynamo team hotel. Once we got there, we entered the lobby and found no Dynamo representatives nor any journalists. After milling about for another 10 minutes, we decided to leave and try and find some Dynamo fans in town. We were down on our luck. We popped in for some lunch at ‘ALL STAR STEAKS’ on the recommendation of Jon. However, the overall meal was closer to NO STARS. After the less than satisfactory food, we headed back to the hotel, got changed and made our way to the metro to get to the stadium. By now, the steps we had accumulated had started to take their toll on my feet. Definitely ended up with some nasty blisters but I had to bear the pain. Top Travel Tip: Don’t bring Nike Air Force One’s on holiday! 
As we made our way underground, I was really impressed with the Amsterdam Metro. Whilst obviously a lot smaller in scale compared to the Tube or Kyiv’s metro system, it felt a lot more modern and state of the art. As we descended on the escalators, a giant projection of the metro lines and their service status was beamed on the slanted ceiling. It was like a sci-fi film. After a half hour journey on the train we arrived at the behemoth that is the Johan Cruijff ArenA. The infrastructure around the stadium, including shops, restaurants and walkways fitted seamlessly into the location. We headed to the away end sector to purchase our tickets. 
As they went on sale at 17:00 we wanted to definitely make sure we got some after making the journey from the UK. As we arrived, there were already a good 40 plus Ukrainians in the queue. As we slowly made our way to the front, we could see certain people were being refused tickets for not having their passports and others for not being Ukrainian or true Dynamo fans. As the 60,000 seat stadium was sold out in the home end, certain tourists and chancers were trying to get in via the Dynamo sector. The Dynamo representative was not having it and turned those people away. Having a British passport myself, I approached the representative to make sure that I could secure a ticket for myself and Jon. Speaking to him in Ukrainian, I said that I reside and was born in London and then proceeded to show him my map of Ukraine tattoo. He was impressed by it and said that was better than any passport! It was a great laugh all round and a reasonably easy process to get tickets in the end. A shout out to Serhiy, the Dynamo Kyiv representative I spoke to, for overseeing the smooth running of ticket sales and vetting of supporters.
Now we had our tickets, we just had the small matter of three and a half hours to kill before KO. We went back to the station and got some beers from a supermarket. Heineken again. As we took a seat on some steps, outside the stadium and soaked up the pre match atmosphere, the Ajax fans and ultras began to arrive in their numbers. The flare, smoke and firework show, curated by the Ultras, was quite something. Finishing off our beers, we decided to get amongst it. Walking past burning used flares, we soon realised that Ajax fans certainly take their football seriously. They really do know how to get you in the mood for a football match. As the chanting and large crowds subsided as people began to make their way to their seats, we had a few chats with Dynamo Kyiv fans outside the stadium. We got a few photos with the banner outside the stadium, and as usual it was quite the conversation starter. 
Inside the ArenA, the away sector was sealed off from the rest of the venue, with a glass fence around it. As we were there quite early, we proceeded to stick up our banner with special thanks to the stewards who provided us with some sellotape. After talking to some friendly Amsterdam based Ukrainians, we made our way to the concourse for another beer and chips. We were surprised that beer was allowed on a UEFA night, but we weren’t going to complain! However, concerning the chips, we had forgotten that in Europe that’s what they call Crisps. We settled for the Bolognese flavour Lays rip offs, and to be honest they weren’t that bad. 

Re-emerging from the concourse, I was met with the sight of my banner being in the hands of a Dynamo Kyiv Ultra, who had taken it down. They must have arrived whilst we were queuing for a drink. Speaking to who I presume was the WBC Kyiv spokesperson, he explained to me in detail as to why they took the banner down and why I wouldn’t be allowed to hang it up elsewhere in the stand. Their reasoning began by explaining that they didn’t know what this banner was and who it belonged to. Furthermore, the Ultras have a special right to decide who is allowed and who isn’t allowed to hang banners in the away end due to the fact that they regularly attend Dynamo games. In order to be allowed to hang my banner in the same vicinity as the Ultras, I would have to qualify for this right after spending a year getting to know them by attending Dynamo games on a regular basis myself. This was in order for them to know that I was the real deal. 

In addition, he mentioned that Dynamo Kyiv and Ajax Ultras don’t have the best of relationships or history and as a result were anticipating a noisy welcome in Kyiv next week. As a result, they didn’t want to risk my banner being stolen and then have it seen as being associated with them. Whilst most of this was to some extent understandable, as I was an outsider to the Ultra scene to them along with the rest of the Dynamo supporters in the stand; saying that you shouldn’t be having a banner if you’re a group of under 10 people was pretty unfair. However, there was obviously no point in arguing or defying them as it would just end negatively for me and give me a bad reputation amongst travelling Dynamo supporters. 
Moving away from minor disputes, the actual football was far from great. Dynamo went 1-0 down inside 3 minutes and that immediately dampened the mood in the sector. However, a Kedziora equaliser did briefly reignite the away end atmosphere. The Ajax fans themselves were in great spirits and certainly know how to create a loud and entertaining football environment. Although some of them were less than well behaved, regularly throwing over half full beers over the enclosure into our stand. The score went 2-1 before half time and then 3-1 to the hosts shortly after the restart. Boyko would be coming out of this game with a weakened reputation after a less than convincing performance in goal. The forward play was not much better either! 

As the game finished, there was a subdued aura amongst the leaving Ukrainian supporters. Before leaving, we decided to stay behind to get some photos with the banner as we couldn’t let such an opportunity go a miss. We got back on the metro and headed to our hotel for a quick change before visiting a few more overpriced bars. I wasn’t overly in the mood after that poor result and we shut up shop at around 2am. We had a lie in the next morning before check out, walked around Amsterdam one last time and then set off back to the airport. Another away trip and another match where I have failed to see a win! Will it ever come? Let’s hope so! Czech Republic is coming up next time!



Dynamo Kyiv go into the 6th UPL Matchday of the season as the last remaining unbeaten side in the league. Last time out they once more emerged as 1-0 winners against, the then top of the table club, Oleksandriya. As the old saying goes ‘all records come to an end’ and this time it was the turn of Oleksandriya’s unbeaten run to fall victim to the Kyivan outfit. Viktor Tsyhankov’s clever finish from outside the box was enough to separate the sides. Elsewhere, due Dynamo’s game against Mariupol being postponed two weeks ago, Shakhtar were able to return to the helm due to their superior goal difference. They comfortably saw off newly appointed Yuriy Bakalov’s FC Lviv. 
Vorskla Poltava seem to be getting some of their resilience back which had helped them to a third place finish last season. They saw off Mariupol despite going a goal down. Vladyslav Kulach scored a bicycle kick in that game that is already being tipped as a contender for Goal of the Season. Down at the very bottom of the league, Arsenal Kyiv finally managed to get a point on the board after a 1-1 draw against Chornomorets Odessa. However, this is unlikely to relieve the pressure off of Ravanelli’s back as he still seeks his first win as Arsenal Kyiv manager.
This week also saw Ukrainian sides battling it out in the Champions League and Europa League play offs. Both Dynamo Kyiv and Zorya Luhansk were keen to get off to good starts against Ajax and RB Leipzig respectively. Zorya Londonsk Weekly flew out to Amsterdam to see the Dynamo game. However, along with the other travelling support, left disappointed as Dynamo succumbed to a 3-1 defeat. More in depth information on that away trip will be coming up in our next write up. On the other hand, Zorya Luhansk defended resolutely against a strong Red Bull side and secured a goalless draw against the Bundesliga team, despite being down to 10 men for most of the game. With no away goals conceded, the tie is finely poised for Zorya to get a result away next week in Leipzig. Dynamo have a lot to do if they want to overturn their 3-1 first leg defeat and avoid joining Vorskla and potentially Zorya in the Europa League groups. 
Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests. 
Our sixth guest of the 2018 – 19 season is Marko Husak. Marko is a Bradford born restaurateur and bar owner. He is also a big Bradford City, Dynamo Kyiv and Ukraine fan. Marko’s other passion is beer. It was his love of beer that led him to open the Sparrow in Bradford over 7 years ago with his friend Les Hall. Marko told us “We were both mad beer fans & thought that Bradford could do with a small beer focused bar. Back then ‘craft beer’ was still extremely new. It wasn’t hip or trendy. There were only 3 other bars in West Yorkshire pushing it. To put it into context, there were only 5-10 breweries in London at that time, now there are over 100.” 
The Sparrow Bier Cafe
With the craft beer scene having such small exposure in the early days, Marko says he knew it would be a difficult start but eventually his and Les’ persistence and determination ended up paying off, thanks in part to football. Marko explained “Bradford was, and still is in some ways, a bit of a wasteland. We opened on a quiet street near Valley Parade, Bradford City’s ground. We were the only bar there. Nobody gave us a chance and it was a quiet start. Soon the people of Bradford took to us, especially from the the city fans (and away fans) when the mighty Bantams played at home. Trade increased and more bars opened on the street. There are now 11 bars on the street. Me and Les sold the Sparrow a few months a go. The street got busier and the dynamic changed. It was time to cash our chips in and move on.” Another fine example showcasing how Football and Beer are inextricably intertwined! 
Aside from The Sparrow, Marko has also ventured into the restaurant business. He is a Director at Bundobust, an Indian vegetarian street food restaurant also specializing in craft beer. Marko recalled “The idea of Bundobust was born in April 2013 when Mayur Patel from Indian restaurant Prashad asked The Sparrow if we wanted to do some beer and food pairing events. The events were successful & we decided to do something more permanent bringing Indian street food & craft beer together.” 
Mayur Patel and Marko Husak
As with any business it wasn’t the easiest process to turn Bundobust from an idea into its physical restaurant form and subsequent success. Marko adds “We found a cheap site in Leeds and did most of the work ourselves. At the weekend we did pop-ups & street food festivals to make money to fund the build of the restaurant. We opened in July 2014. We had a massive queue out of the door on our opening day. We started getting good reviews from day one.” Marko and Mayur have since branched out from Leeds with their Manchester restaurant having opened in December 2016 whilst a Liverpool location will be opening this winter.
Since its opening Bundobust has had glowing reviews from the likes of Jay Rayner and featured on the Vice Website. We asked Marko whether he ever imagined that the business would grow to be such a success. He replied “We always hoped it would be successful & always dreamed of getting a review in one of the broadsheets. It really kicked off for us after the Jay Rayner review in the Observer. We’re pretty much full every night & there is no looking back. Good press does help get the punters in!”
Adrian Chiles
To tie in with Zorya Londonsk Weekly’s sporting and football theme, Marko was quizzed about whether he had any sporting anecdotes or famous sporting stars visit any of his establishments. “At the Sparrow we once had a 1960s Bradford City turn up on a reunion. That was nice. I once had a few drinks with ex City striker Ian Ormondroyd. Whilst at Bundobust we recently had some of the Indian cricket team in for drinks. Ex-ITV Sport and ex-One Show presenter Adrian Chiles called in for dinner once.” Apart from sporting stars, Bundobust also draws in plenty of musicians and actors. “We’ve had The National, Laura Marling, FKA Twigs, Father John Misty, Kings of Leon, to name but a few.”
Before we moved onto our chat about Ukrainian football, we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to ask Marko, with Bundobust currently opening up branches across the North of England, whether there would ever be any plans for a move down South, to London. He remains open to the idea and told us “Who knows, hopefully one day, although the rent is quite pricy down there.”
Viktor Tsyhankov
With Marko being a Dynamo Kyiv fan, it was only right to kick off our football chat with him by asking how he viewed their start to the season. “It’s been a solid start in the league & they’ve done well to win their first 4 games & beat Shakhtar in the Super Cup. I fancy their chances. I just don’t know where the goals are going to come from.” Furthermore, we wanted to know who Marko saw as Dynamo’s key player, going forward in the coming season. He said “Tsyhankov for me, he is their rising star. He was good last season but I think this year he’s gonna let rip! It’s a shame about this week’s result against Ajax, I think they were unlucky but I don’t think they are going to get the result they need in Kyiv to advance to the group stage.”
Bradford City
Alongside his Ukrainian team, we also wanted to know how Marko felt his hometown club, Bradford City, would fare in League One this season. Did they have it in them to better their previous campaign’s 11thplace finish? “So far we’ve won two and lost two. I feel that this mixed bag of results and inconsistent form will be the theme of City’s season. We will finish higher than 11th but will fall short of reaching the playoffs. Fans are losing faith in the German owners & our manager Michael Collins is young & inexperienced. But who knows, anything can happen in football!” Good luck to the Bantams this season! 
Finally, before we move onto our UPL PREDICTOR we had to find out a bit more about Marko’s Ukrainian football experiences. We first met in France during Ukraine’s awful EURO 2016 showing and asked him to reflect back on that. “I’ve tried to blot out France 2016 out of my memory. What an embarrassment.” We couldn’t agree more. Remembering his earliest Ukrainian football memories, Marko revealed “I missed out on the Champions League games of the late 90s. I watched them on TV when they played Arsenal, Newcastle, Man United etc. but gutted that didn’t make any of the games. I remember checking Teletext for the scores.” 
England v Ukraine – May 2000
Similar to our own very first Ukraine match, Marko’s was also the England v Ukraine game of May 2000 at the Old Wembley. Marko continued to tell us “Following that match, I went to the game v Wales in March 2001. My first football trip abroad was v Turkey in Kyiv in September 2005 (World Cup qualifiers). We lost 1-0. It was the only game we lost that campaign. I think we won every other game apart from that one. I remember the Olympic stadium concourse smelling like piss. It was grim but an amazing experience. A few years after I saw my first Dynamo game. They lost 3-1. A 30 something Rebrov, who had just returned from West Ham, came on off the bench to score a screamer of a goal.” 
In total Marko told us that he’s seen Ukraine about 15 times & Dynamo about 5 or 6 times. He has no plans to go see any Ukraine games over the next year or so but is hoping for Dynamo to draw an English club in Europe!
Keep up to date with the latest from Marko and Bundobust via the links provided below. 


🌐Bundobust Website 

📷Marko Husak on IG 

🐤Marko Husak on Twitter 

🐤Bundobust on Twitter 

🌏Bundobust on Facebook

🍺Jay Rayner Bundobust Review

📷Bundobust on IG


A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.


Olimpik Donetsk v Shakhtar Donetsk
Todos’ prediction: Olimpik are no pushovers, however as is usually the case, Shakhtar just hold too much class for most of the league and as a result will narrowly win the game.0-2
Marko’s prediction: ‘Shakhtar will just be too strong for Olimpik’1-3
RESULT: 2-2: Pasich (18′), Danchenko OG (76′) / Marlos (11′), Moraes (17′,32′,75′), Stepanenko (41′)


Oleksandriya v Vorskla Poltava
Todos’ prediction: Having had their long unbeaten run come to an end last weekend in Kyiv, Oleksandriya will be looking to make amends for the loss of points. However, Vorskla seem to be starting to perk up after a sub par start to the season. Neither will be able to break the other side down. 0-0
Marko’s prediction: ‘A close game but Oleksandriya will recover from their defeat to Dynamo’.1-0
RESULT: 2-0: Banada (15′,17′)

Chornomorets Odesa v Dynamo Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: Odesa used to be Yarmolenko’s favourite team to play against. Even with him no longer at the club, Dynamo should secure a comfortable win which will most probably be played at a low gear due to Khatskevich having one eye on next week’s UCL play off second leg. 0-2
Marko’s prediction: ‘Dynamo to make it five ‘1-0’ league victories in a row’0-1
RESULT: 1-1: Hrachev (84′) / Rusyn (59′)


Mariupol v FC Lviv
Todos’ prediction: With no more Europa League to distract them, Mariupol can now well and truly focus on the league. They have some climbing to do to make sure they can return to the heights of last season. FC Lviv will be down on their luck once more. 2-1
Marko’s prediction: ‘A bottom of the table clash that will end all square.’ 2-2
RESULT: 2-2: Pikhalonok (49′), Churko (59′) / Paramonov (45+2′), Duarte (51′)

Zorya Luhansk v Desna Chernihiv
Todos’ prediction: Zorya worked their socks off in their Europa League play off first leg in midweek. They will want to preserve their energy for the second. Desna just haven’t been able to see out a win efficiently enough and as a result, Zorya will narrowly take all three points.1-0
Marko’s prediction: ‘Zorya to win relatively comfortably.’ 2-0
RESULT: 0-2: Starenkiy (11′), Bezborodko (73′)

Karpaty Lviv v Arsenal Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: Karpaty as usual have been toying with their supporters, putting in performances but only deciding to do so for one half per match. Their comeback last week from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 was impressive and they will be far too strong against a sorry Arsenal side.2-0
Marko’s prediction: ‘Karpaty to win big against bottom of the league.’ 3-0
RESULT: 1-2: Erbes (55′) / Orihovskiy (28′), Hryn (39′)



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Total scores after week 5
Todos v Guests
D0     L4



The UPL has finally begun to return to normality after the first three hectic weeks of the season featuring a solitary draw and no managerial changes. Matchday 4 saw a return to winning ways for Shakhtar with a 4-1 rout against underperforming Vorskla, whilst Dynamo Kyiv and Mariupol’s showdown was rescheduled for 26thof September to better accommodate their midweek European preparations. Arsenal Kyiv succumbed to their fourth successive loss at the hands of the Ukrainian Leicester City, Oleksandriya, high flying, low scoring and no conceding!

Yuriy Bakalov

Jose Morais
Just like London buses, not one but TWO managerial changes came at once in the league this week! Gilmar of FC Lviv left the club as a result of the FFU finding out he did not have the required Pro Licenses to coach in the division. Why this wasn’t thoroughly looked into prior to the start of the season, is anyone’s guess! After talk and supposed official announcements that Volodymyr Mazyar would take over from the Brazilian, Yuriy Bakalov was unveiled as the new FC Lviv manager. This whole debacle was peak UPL soap opera! Across the city, Karpaty also decided to have a change after a relatively mediocre start to the season. Oleh Boychishyn made way for Jose Morais. The Portuguese coach may have experience of working as an assistant to Mourinho at Chelsea, Inter and Real but his solo management career, leaves a lot to be desired. Many are predicting that he definitely won’t make it to the winter break, and Barnsley fans have been particularly vocal in their distaste for the man, after he oversaw their relegation to League One last season. 

There were mixed fortunes in Europe for our Ukrainian contingent this week. Dynamo resolutely beat a tough and tenacious Slavia Prague 2-0 at the Olympiyskiy. They ended up 3-1 winners on aggregate and sett up a play off meeting with Ajax for that coveted UCL group stage spot. Mariupol, who already had a mountain to climb against Bordeaux having lost their first leg 3-1 at home, went to France and put up a brave fight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and they bowed out 5-2 on aggregate. Zorya Luhansk were last up in their tie against Braga. In a game that will go down in their history as one of the biggest in terms of collective team performance, it saw them come from behind twice to draw 2-2 in Portugal and set up a mouthwatering UEL play off tie versus Red Bull Leipzig! 

Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests. 

Max outside Red Bull Arena, NJ 

Our fifth guest of the 2018 – 19 season is Max Meleganich. Max is 
a Ukrainian living in New York City and currently works in a player/club intermediary role operating in North America and in the Ukrainian market. Max has a long social media history when it comes to Ukrainian football. He started the well followed and highly respected English language Ukrainian football source @FutbolUkraine on Twitter. After a few years of being very active, the account can now be found under the @UkrainianNT handle and has significantly slowed down in its capacity. Commenting on the current situation of the page, Max said “That was a hobby of mine and it was fun running the show while it lasted but after a certain point I outgrew the project and tried to pass it along to some younger and more trustworthy folks within our circle.” 
Max is no longer involved but stresses that if there is anyone who would be interested in managing the page then he urges them to get in touch! He points out that “Part of the duties that we all have as English-speaking fans of Ukrainian football is contributing to its marketing, appeal, and advancement in Western Europe and abroad. That was my intention when I started off, and it’s my intention now in the current role I occupy, and it will always be my intention in any future positions I may be working in.” 
Max continues in his call for the collective promotion of both the UPL and Ukrainian football in the West by saying “Ultimately what I think will work best if there is some unity amongst the projects to create one hub for the content. Perhaps start a weekly or a monthly podcast in English. I think there is interest in stuff like this. It’s a niche market but there are plenty of us to create the demand and interest.” This is a proposition that Zorya Londonsk would certainly be open to contribute toward and be a part of. Watch this space! Get in touch!
As mentioned briefly in Max’s introduction, he has stepped aside from the social media side of things and has become involved in a sports intermediary role.
In case you’re wondering what this entails, Max explained “Basically what I’ve been attempting to do is sell the Ukrainian Premier League as a market for sourcing players for the MLS. In terms of wage levels and price-for-quality these two markets would 110% find mutual benefit. We all know what happened to the Ukrainian football market after Russia invaded Ukraine – salaries collapsed, clubs are not stable, contracts can be broken. This is where opportunities come up for clubs in MLS, but also other leagues in Europe.” 
Max reveals that as there hasn’t been a Ukrainian-import to the North American market yet, there is no way to accurately gauge Ukrainian performance in MLS. “However, we’ve seen what guys who have played in Ukraine, are capable of doing in MLS such as Ex-Metalist Kharkiv player, Sebastian Blanco and Ex-Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, Ilsinho. These guys are phenomenal players in this league. Unfortunately, because no franchise in MLS has yet taken the first step in recruiting a Ukrainian player, we’re going to have to wait a bit and see what one of our own will look like in this league.” 
Andriy Batsula
Attempts at bringing a Ukrainian over have been tried. An example Max provides is that of Andriy Batsula, who recently moved to Kortrijk in Belgium. “Over the past year, and even when he was playing for Zirka Kropivnytskyy, I offered him to MLS clubs who didn’t rate him. What does Kortrijk see in him that MLS doesn’t? I have no way of gauging this disconnect for now. It’s only a matter of time. Deals have gotten close and then collapsed. There is absolutely no reason why directors of football and other front office reps in MLS should be raving about the level of Ekstraklasa, but not realize that right next door, there is a league at least several times better in quality.”
Max continues, “The UPL may well hold an automatic UCL spot, another spot available through qualifying and several Europa League spots but there is still ZERO exposure of Ukrainian football abroad and ZERO marketing of the game abroad. As a result, for some, the UPL still remains a mystery. Even though it shouldn’t be.” Zorya Londonsk agrees with the points made by Max in relation to the serious lacking of marketing strategy by the UPL and FFU outside of Ukraine’s borders.
Max is a Dynamo Kyiv fan and as is custom, we asked him on his thoughts about the club’s current lack of forward options and whether this could become detrimental later on in the season. “I know for a fact the club is working very hard to bring in a player who will come in and immediately produce. However, we have to understand that Dynamo will not spend lavish amounts on a player of this caliber. That’s why finding these gems is going to be a bit harder. I don’t think Supryaha is the player they see to fill this role. They’re working – hopefully they will remain open-minded and consider non-standard leagues when it comes to Dynamo Kyiv recruitment.” 
Ruslan Malinovskiy
In addition to his own club, we also asked Max for a few of his thoughts on Ukrainian players moving abroad. With Belgium and Turkey seeing a large influx of players from the country, we pondered whether this was a positive for the National Team or whether it was a telltale sign of the UPL’s relative decline? “I think the players going to Belgium are seeking career growth and I personally welcome this. The players who move to Turkey are also looking for career advancement whether it is for the atmosphere or better pay. We have to be happy that our players are sought after in these markets. Especially Belgium. Belgium is an excellent platform to move into the bigger leagues in Western Europe.” However, he is also somewhat disappointed. Max added that he wished the same guys that were performing in Belgium; Malinovskiy and Yaremchuk, had been given greater opportunities to play for their domestic clubs, Dynamo and Shakhtar. “Malinovskiy, at a minimum, had earned his shot after some eye catching performances at Zorya and whilst on loan at Genk, and never got it. “
Keep up to date with Max’s latest work in the intermediary field or if you’re interested in getting involved in helping to run the former @FutbolUkraine account via the links provided below.



A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.


Arsenal Kyiv v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: I have seriously underestimated Chornomorets so far this season. They’ve grinded out some decent results against their nearest rivals in the table. Here comes another one of those games. Ravanelli is clueless and doesn’t have long left to rectify things. Unfortunately, Arsenal Kyiv will continue to pay for this as a result. 0-1
Max’s prediction: Max is predicting Arsenal to get their first points of the season at home. 2-1
RESULT: 1-1: Maydanevych (26′) / Babenko (35′)


FC Lviv v Shakhtar Donetsk 
Todos’ prediction:  After all the managerial nonsense of midweek, Shakhtar will have another comfortable walk in the park as Bakalov takes time to settle in at Lviv. 0-3
Max’s prediction: Max envisages a slightly closer affair between the two sides but sees Shakhtar possessing just too much for FC Lviv to handle. 0-2
RESULT: 0-2: Marlos (21′), Bolbat (90′)

Dynamo Kyiv Oleksandriya 
Todos’ prediction: The last two UPL sides with 100% records. Both have yet to concede a goal but haven’t been the most prolific when it comes to goal scoring up the other end. As Denys Boyko’s catchphrase goes “No Parasan! (They shall not pass!)” I see neither side conceding. 0-0
Max’s prediction: A narrow win for Dynamo will see them draw level at the UPL summit with Oleksandriya after last week’s postponement. 1-0
RESULT: 1-0: Tsyhankov (68′)


Desna Chernihiv v Karpaty Lviv 
Todos’ prediction: Karpaty just can’t seem to close a game out from a dominant position. Morais will not have had a chance yet to have any meaningful (positive or negative) impact on his squad. Desna are similar in the sense they aren’t able to grab a hold of their games. Nobody to take charge. 1-1
Max’s prediction: Max predicts goals galore in this one with Karpaty picking up the same two goals a piece scoreline for a second time this season. 2-2
RESULT: 2-2: Bezborodko (25′), D.Favorov (42′) / Miroshnichenko (58′), Mehmeric (80′)

Zorya Luhansk v Olimpik Donetsk
Todos’ prediction: Zorya will be ecstatic after their midweek European heroics. Despite another fixture coming next Thursday, Olimpik have been far too inconsistent for me this season and my faith in them has weakened. 2-1
Max’s prediction: A narrow win for Zorya will give them all three points. 1-0

Vorskla Poltava v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: Vorskla have been subpar so far this season. They will look to rectify this in Matchday 5. Mariupol will be tired after travelling back from Bordeaux and then again to Poltava. The win won’t be overtly convincing but Vorskla will get it over the line. 2-0
Max’s prediction: Max foresees Mariupol picking up a point on the road after their European exit in midweek. 1-1
RESULT: 2-1: Kulach (29′), Polohenko OG (88′) / Fomin PEN (21′)



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Total scores after week 5
Todos v Guests



D0     L3



The First Ukrainian El Clasico of the season came and went. Benjamin Verbic scored the winner once again, in a 1-0 victory for Dynamo. These seem to be becoming routine wins for Khatskevich and his men. However, Dynamo still find themselves in second place, as they’re being kept off the top of the table on goal difference by the mighty Oleksandriya! What a story! They’re currently on a 16 game unbeaten run!

Aside from the UPL action, Dynamo and Zorya made their European qualifying returns this week alongside the already competing Mariupol. Verbic was on the scoresheet again as Dynamo succumbed to a last minute penalty equaliser against Slavia Prague. Zorya also played out a 1-1 draw against Braga in Zaporizhya whilst Mariupol gave up a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 to Bordeaux in Odesa. It seems like an almost impossible task to reach the UEL play off round for Mariupol now but we wish them and the other two sides the best of luck in next week’s fixtures! 

Finally, the EPL restarts this weekend, where Ukraine’s main man, Andriy Yarmolenko, seeks to prove himself at his new club, West Ham, after a difficult past season in Germany. Check out our in depth overview and analysis of his career so far and how we think he will get along in the Premier League in our featured article of the week, which can be found on our home page!
Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests. 

Our fourth guest of the 2018 – 19 season is Stefan Jajecznyk – Kelman. Stefan is a freelance journalist with bylines in the Kyiv Post, UNILAD, New Eastern Europe, FT.com and The Mirror. Whilst he covers a wide range of news and political topics in his reporting, his primary area of expertise rotates around Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. His line of work has even taken him to the frontline in the Donbas, where he has visited Ukrainian soldiers and local residents fighting in or living through Ukraine’s war with Russia. When he’s not writing professionally, he can be found on twitter @sjajecznykMEN, where he is usually tweeting about football, Brexit and of course, Ukraine!  He is currently keeping a close eye on developments in; the war in Donbas, the country’s political sphere and the upcoming 2019 Presidential elections.
Nottingham Forest
Alongside his interest and work in news and politics, Stefan is a big football fan! He supports Nottingham Forest in the UK, whilst avidly following Dynamo Kyiv as his Ukrainian side. When asked about how he thought his two clubs’ seasons would pan out, Stefan told us that he was looking forward to exciting campaigns ahead for both sides. He noted Forest’s big spending over the summer, taking a leaf out of the Wolves book, and how that should afford them at least a shot at the play offs. On the prospects of Dynamo, he was a little less optimistic despite their strong start to the season. He’s hopeful that they can improve on previous seasons but still sees Shakhtar as too strong of a competitor to be dethroned come the end of the season.
Ukrainian Soldiers in Donbas
As we have mentioned in a previous article of ours, politics and sport are usually inextricably intertwined with this certainly being the case in Ukraine. We asked Stefan about his experience of visiting the frontline and how much of an impact the war has had on the state of football in the country. He noted that the most obvious side effect of the war had been that four current Ukrainian Premier League sides, originating from the country’s Eastern regions, were not able to play at their home stadiums. Stefan continued  “Zorya have been a real success despite the upheaval in having to move to Zaporizhya. Nomadic Shakhtar, currently based in Kharkiv, have previously shared stadia in Kyiv and Lviv while also having to deal with some not-so welcoming locals.” 

Over the past two seasons, Zorya have had to play their European matches in Odesa and Lviv due to a UEFA decision deeming the Slavutych Arena in Zaporizhya as unsuitable. Stefan wrote about this for Manchester United’s website before their trip to Odessa to play Zorya. He said “It would be unfathomable for a British side to go through something like this, the comparison was something like United having to play all their home games in Luxembourg!” Furthermore, after coming into contact with many former ultras in the Joint Forces Operation zone, Stefan concludes that the war has seemingly united a large majority of them, fighting against a common cause whilst simultaneously rehabilitating their previously unfavourable image somewhat. 
Speaking about how soldiers reacted to Ukrainian sporting stars showing them public support, Stefan told us “I wouldn’t want to speak for the troops and how they feel about athletes specifically, but generally they are appreciative of people remembering them, where they are and what they’re doing.” SLAVA UKRAINI!
Moving away from the very real but raw topic of war, we asked Stefan about his expectations concerning Ukrainian clubs in Europe this season. Would Ukrainians have something to shout about this year other than seeing their capital city host the Champions League final? Trying to avoid a football cliche, Stefan mentioned that “It’s a bit of trope now to say Ukraine is a tough place to get a result but it is true. Ukrainian sides perform better at home whilst Western sides struggle.” He’s confident that Dynamo should make it to the UCL group stages. 
Before we move onto the UPL MATCH PREDICTOR, with the Premier League kicking off this weekend, we could not let Stefan go without asking him for his thoughts on Yarmolenko. Will he break the trend of past Ukrainians and be a smash hit or flop as is customary? Stefan remains a bit sceptical. “Yarmolenko has the quality, for sure; but West Ham are a team still in a bit of flux, the stadium move seems to have hampered them and the fans aren’t happy generally. It may be difficult for him to settle.” Stefan believes that it may be possible that he follows the trend of other Ukrainian players that have gone to the EPL. “Those who usually arrive later in their careers and as a result have found it difficult to adapt to the pace and pressing the English game has.” Good Luck Andriy!



A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.


Olimpik Donetsk v FC Lviv
Todos’ prediction: For a second week in a row Lviv were denied a draw after defending resolutely for most of the game against Vorskla. However I think neither side has what it takes to capitalise on the other’s weaknesses. Bore draw. 0-0
Stefan’s prediction: ‘Honours even for two middling teams.’ 1-1
RESULT: 1-1 : Pasich (86′) / Adamyuk (68′)


Shakhtar Donetsk v Vorskla Poltava
Todos’ prediction: Fresh from their disappointment after losing to Dynamo once again, Shakhtar will be looking to build back some form. Vorskla have been playing in first gear for most of the season so far and I don’t think they’ll change that against a strong Donetsk side.  3-1
Stefan’s prediction: ‘The defending champions’ quality will show in what I think will be a routine win’ 2-0
RESULT: 4-1 : Marlos (50′), Stepanenko (59′), Khocholava (62′), Moraes (74′) / Sharpar (25′)


Karpaty Lviv v Zorya Luhansk 
Todos’ prediction: Both of these sides have had a strange start to their campaigns so far. Karpaty will still be reeling after letting a two goal lead slip against Olimpik last week. They always seem to bottle it when expectations are set too high! Zorya will have a greater focus on their UEL second leg next Thursday and as a result might slip up again. 1-1
Stefan’s prediction: ‘Another evenly-pitched game though I think Karpaty’s home advantage will give them the edge.’ 2-1
RESULT: 0-1 : Kharatin (77′)
Oleksandriya v Arsenal Kyiv
Todos’ prediction: Oh, Oleksandriya have caused quite a shock so far this season. Could they go onto win the whole UPL? The Ukrainian Leicester? It’s unlikely but one thing’s for sure, Arsenal Kyiv are awful. My vendetta against Ravanelli as a coach continues. They won’t be able to match Volodymyr Sharan’s men. Comfortable victory. 2-0
Stefan’s prediction: ‘It’s a top versus bottom clash with Oleksandriya unbeaten so far. Easy home win I think.’ 3-0
RESULT: 1-0 : Tsurikov (58′)
Mariupol v Dynamo Kyiv 
Todos’ prediction:There’s talk of this match being postponed for some reason. Not entirely sure as to why when Sunday would seem relatively logical for these European competing teams to meet. Either way, Dynamo will be too strong for the Azov side whenever this fixture is eventually fulfilled. 0-3
Stefan’s prediction:‘This will be a tough trip for Dynamo but I think their form and confidence will overcome Mariupol’s leaky defence.’ 1-2

RESULT: 0-2: Verbic (7′) , Tsyhankov (24′) 
Chornomorets Odesa v Desna Chernihiv

Todos’ prediction: Chornomorets have somehow outperformed themselves so far this season. After Oleksandria, they’ve definitely been the most surprising team. However, this week I feel they will suffer another defeat at the hands of Desna who have a more distinguished attacking force. 1-2
Stefan’s prediction:  ‘An early mid-table clash with plenty of goals.’ 2-2
RESULT: 1-0 : Smirnov (72′)




Total scores after week 4
Todos v Guests



Andriy Yarmolenko – An Overview 

Another Premier League season kicks off this Friday with an added impetus for the average Ukrainian football fan and supporter. The Ukraine National Team poster boy and their second all time top goalscorer, Andriy Yarmolenko, has finally graced the world’s greatest league after years of links and speculation. Ever since, a few of his performances at Euro 2012 caught the eye, many top clubs’ scouting set ups have familiarised themselves with, the left footed, right sided winger. However, it is only now at the age of 28 that the 6ft2 forward has decided to make the move and take the risk. 
Historically, Ukrainians and the Premier League have not had the best of relationships. Difficulty in adapting to the league’s physical style, no winter break, a lack of playing time and supposedly even the weather have affected Yarmolenko’s countrymen before him. Some have questioned whether the move away from Dynamo Kyiv last summer was too late for him in his career, with many citing his time at Dortmund as an underwhelming disappointment. Despite this, the rest of this piece will aim to draw a more rounded analysis of Yarmolenko’s talents, traits and weaknesses and aim to predict whether he has what it takes to prove himself in front of the London Stadium crowd week in, week out.

A Short History of Ukrainians in Premier League

Before Yarmolenko gets a look in, it’s important to see where his compatriots fell short, when they arrived on the shores of Britain. Oleksandr Yevtushok was the first Ukrainian to get given a run around in the Premiership when he signed for Coventry in 1997. He failed to set the league alight as Coventry battled with relegation and the defender left after making just three league appearances in his only season at the club. 
Dynamo Kyiv legends, Oleh Luzhny and Serhiy Rebrov were next to try their luck, making their moves after impressing most of Europe in Valeriy Lobanovsky’s Dynamo side during the late 1990s. Luzhny moved to one part of North London, donning the Arsenal red whilst Rebrov moved just down the road to play for Spurs at White Hart Lane. 
Luzhny’s career in England can largely be looked back on as a success. Whilst he was never a permanent starter during his time at Highbury, he was a willing back up right back that ended up with a league title and an FA Cup medal. His time in England, as a player, ended at Wolves after which he moved into coaching. However, London has maintained a special place in his heart, as his family still live here and its also not too odd to catch glimpse of him around Mayfair, usually around the Christmas period. 
On the other hand, things didn’t work out as well for Rebrov. With an £11 million price tag weighing him down at Spurs, things never really clicked. After George Graham, the manager who brought him to the club, was sacked it marked the beginning of the end for the once prolific forward’s time in the Premier League. He never managed to emulate his 9 goal debut season and ended his time in England in the Championship with none other than West Ham United. 
£30 million Andriy Shevchenko joined Chelsea after the 2006 World Cup and was subject to a similarly torrid time, akin to that of Torres at the club. Aged 30, his career was beginning to wane and whilst he does have some memorable performances to list whilst at Chelsea, he will forever be tarnished as a flop when weighed up against his price tag. 
A ponytailed Andriy Voronin aka The Ukrainian Emile Heskey, docked into Merseyside, not too long after his namesake, Sheva, had moved to West London. Joining on a free, Voronin didn’t have the best of experiences during his time in England; famously stating he was homesick whilst also slating British women and the weather in the process. After 5 league goals and a loan spell away from Anfield, he left the club for good. Last season’s Champions, Manchester City, had a Ukrainian in their ranks. Oleksandr Zinchenko was moulded into a left back by Pep Guardiola despite being an attacking midfielder by trade. This position change did give him game time, deputising whilst Mendy and second choice, makeshift left back Fabian Delph were both out injured but despite winning a Premier League medal, the young player still seemed underwhelmed by his lack of consistent playing time. It seems a move to Wolves is on the cards for him. We anticipate that with more minutes on the pitch and playing in his more favoured position, he will be able to reach his full potential once he’s into life in the West Midlands. 
The commonalities many Ukrainians face in the Premier League seems to come down to playing time. Usually not first choice for the managers that bring them in or not given enough time to bed in due to the highly competitive nature of the league has meant that Ukrainians have as of yet, not been able to show the PL their full capabilities. Yarmolenko could buck this trend. 

The Dynamo Days

Andriy Yarmolenko was a stalwart in Dynamo Kyiv’s starting XI since his debut aged 17. Throughout his time at the Ukrainian capital’s most famous club, he was consistent in scoring or assisting goals. As a right sided winger, he was never supposed to be the side’s primary source of goals but on many occasions he did just that. Whilst highly talented with his left foot, it is true that his right footed exploits left and still leave a lot to be desired. However, to say that this is predictable and as a result, easy to shut him out of the game is wrong. Time and time again, in both the Champions League and the Europa League, Yarmolenko made a mockery of opposition left backs with his step overs, cut backs and through balls to overlapping wing backs. Famously he caused Roberto Martinez’s Everton countless problems, scoring a screamer in the process. 
In his later Dynamo years, as the UPL’s competitiveness and quality began to crumble as bankruptcy, the annexation of Crimea and the war with Russia began to take its toll on Ukrainian sport, Yarmolenko began to excel. Some could conclude that this was down to his weakened surroundings but this type of analysis does little to explain his instrumental performances in Europe and for the National Team. It is much more likely that from around the age of 25, Andriy Yarmolenko had finally matured as a professional footballer, taking on the responsibility of captaincy at Dynamo on occasion, before taking it permanently, once Shovkovskiy ceased to play regularly. In addition to this, he began to lead more on and off the pitch, becoming an influential character in the dressing room for younger players and taking on the responsibility of being the talisman for Ukraine’s biggest supported club, harnessing the role model duties that came with it.
Whilst at Dynamo, no transfer window was complete without speculation of Yarmolenko moving to a top European league. AC Milan was regularly mooted, whilst Stoke City and Everton were also constantly linked with the player. His aspirations always seemed to fixate on a higher calibre of club than these respective teams and as a result that’s probably why he waited for so long to leave. Once Dortmund called, it was now or never, hence why he made the jump. After 137 goals and 90 assists in competitive games for the White and Blues, it was time for him to truly test himself in a top European environment surrounded by and facing up against world class talent on a regular basis.

Dortmund – Die Scapegoat

Yarmolenko moved to Dortmund at a time when the club found itself in a weird period of semi-transition. Thomas Tuchel had been sacked at the end of the previous season and the direction Dortmund wanted to move forward in looked unclear. Over €100 million had been made available from the sale of Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona, whilst a lot of the club’s stalwarts had reached a late stage in their careers. Peter Bosz was appointed as Tuchel’s replacement, after just one promising season at Ajax. It was also around this time that Aubameyang had started to become restless began to push for a move away. Enter Yarmolenko. Dortmund began their league season strongly. Yarmolenko scored a stunner against Spurs, at Wembley, on his Champions league debut, which ended in a 3-1 defeat. All seemed well as Dortmund sat top of the Bundesliga going into the October International break. However, weaknesses in BVB’s defence and midfield were beginning to show and Dortmund’s season began to crumble as the Bundesliga resumed. Yarmolenko was still regularly contributing assists and the odd goal but Dortmund were being outscored consistently. 
As the fans began to get restless, many on social media began to portray Yarmolenko as one of the primary scapegoats. He was playing inconsistently and missing a handful of chances, but this was not directly leading to the team’s eventual defeats. Andriy’s teammates were also not replicating the kind of form they showed earlier on in the season. Bosz, seemed to have run out of ideas and the whole squad’s negative aura was clear to see. Yarmolenko, was dropped on a number of occasions but the overall team’s performances failed to change. It was clear that Yarmolenko was not the primary cause of the problem despite many laying blame on his missed chances and lack of tracking back.
Peter Stöger replaced Bosz in December 2017 and Yarmolenko seemed to fall out of favour with the new manager. Added to this was a serious Achilles injury that Yarmolenko picked up in training and this led him to miss a majority of the second half of the season. With youngsters Pulisic and Sancho given first team roles under Stöger, this meant Yarmolenko was limited to very brief cameo appearances from the bench once he did make his injury comeback. A new season could not come soon enough for the Ukrainian. Despite such an overwhelming negative analysis from fans and commentators on his first season at the Westfalenstadion, Yarmolenko’s performances weren’t as bad as they were being made out. 
Statistically, he was scored 6 goals and provided 6 assists in just 26 appearances across all competitions for the club. He was involved in the build up of many other goals, linking particularly well with Kagawa and Aubameyang, when they played together. He was only allowed to complete 90 minutes, a total of 9 times across those 26 appearances. This may call into question his fitness levels, but it was also a result of the circumstances that the team found itself in. The likes of Pulisic, Phillip or Sancho were brought on with the hope of changing the game; which they rarely did. By never allowing Yarmolenko to complete games, this meant he was never fully able to solidify his fitness levels and as a result began to drop off in the latter stages due to the previous early substitutions at around 60 minutes. Alongside this, an unfortunate injury meant that Yarmolenko experienced an uphill task of trying to persuade Peter Stöger to include him in his plans toward the end of the season, as Stöger opted for a rather unattractive style of football which did not factor in Yarmolenko’s flair and guile on the pitch. Added to this, Aubameyang left during the winter window and the club seemed to be in a state of limbo, with Stöger tasked merely with getting Dortmund into Europe through any means possible and his no nonsense, direct approach had no room for Yarmolenko. 
In hindsight, Yarmolenko’s move to Germany was probably a right one but it had unfortunately come at the wrong time, with the club in its mini crisis period. He was given little opportunity to try and help avert this crisis, on the pitch, with the demands of keeping within touching distance of Bayern, meaning world class performances were to be consistent and immediate. The Dortmund medical and physio staff should also be cited as potentially hampering Yarmolenko’s season, as a number of other key members of the squad including January loan signing Batshuayi succumbed to serious and lengthy injuries despite not having injury prone histories. Whilst short lived, Yarmolenko’s brief time on the pitch at Dortmund showed he was capable of quality, be that through his delivery, link up play or his adaptive finishing ability, which on one occasion saw him score an audacious back heel. If he is to progress in the Premier League, he needs to be able to recreate these kinds of performances against the top sides. 
His team records against British clubs aren’t the best but his individual statistics are quite impressive:

West Ham United – A New Epoch Under Manuel Pellegrini

This summer has seen West Ham rebuild. Rather than arriving into another crisis, Yarmolenko is embarking on the start of a new era at West Ham. Coming into their third season at the London Stadium, the fans should be settled. With 52,000 season tickets sold, it seems that the supporters are excited and optimistic about the Pellegrini tenure and his new recruits. Whilst this move caught many off guard, Yarmolenko must have been reassured enough by Pellegrini that he was an intrinsic part of his new look squad and playing style. With Yarmolenko expected to start in his favoured RW position, Arnautovic in the CF role and Felipe Anderson out on the left, West Ham could hold one of the league’s most underrated attacking forces. 

Yarmolenko showed glimpses of quality against Wycombe Wanderers on his pre season debut, linking well with his RB, Fredericks, but has since suffered an injury which the club seems to releasing little information about. It is still unknown whether he will start against Liverpool in their season opener as he has missed two of their last friendlies. 

Russ Taylor, Sky Sports reporter and regular Soccer Saturday ground roamer wrote in a recent report on Yarmolenko; commenting on whether he will adapt to the Premier League that, “He’s hungry and determined to make a success of this move, especially after his spell at Dortmund. And I think it’s a great bit of business by West Ham.” Russ seems quietly confident that Yarmolenko will prove his Dortmund naysayers wrong and will break the trend of Ukrainians underperforming in the Premier League. On the other hand, Zorya Londonsk recently asked Sam Inkersole, who is the West Ham writer for Football.london on his early thoughts on Yarmolenko having watched every pre season game that Andriy featured in. 
Sam said “Having missed the last two pre-season friendlies, he’s a bit behind the rest at the moment and the full extent of his hip and thigh injuries haven’t been revealed. However, the club do say he’ll be fit for Liverpool. Personally, I’m expecting Michail Antonio to start on the right wing.
He’s got a bit to prove after a difficult season at Borussia Dortmund but showed some real glimpses in pre-season. On the flip side, after about 30 minutes against Ipswich he looked absolutely exhausted.
He’s got stern competition in Antonio who has returned to form well though I still expect Yarmolenko to get the nod when he’s back at full fitness. If he can chip in with 7-10 goals and a few assists, I imagine Pellegrini will be happy.”
Sam seems to be undecided about which Yarmolenko will turn up come the time the season is in full swing. If anything, after a disappointing season last time out, Yarmolenko will have added impetus to perform for his new club after being given such faith from Manuel Pellegrini. He should thrive in the 4-2-3-1 formation, that he has played in for years, at both Dynamo and the national team. It will be important for Yarmolenko to hit the ground running at club level not only for West Ham but also for Ukraine, where he will be vital in providing goals and assists as they aim to get promoted from League B in this coming autumn’s UEFA Nations League.
Zorya Londonsk would like to wish the best of luck to West Ham and Andriy this coming season!

 Click HERE for the link to Russ Taylor’s Yarmolenko piece! 

 Click HERE for the link to Sam Inkersole West Ham Q&A!