BRAND NEW POD EPISODE OUT NOW with Adam Pate, Andriy Victorov, Volodymyr Zverov & Maxim Makarov

We discuss:

Lucescu / Dynamo drama
End of the UPL
UEL Play Offs
Aggro business in Persha Liha + plenty more!

Podcast available on:





A season that has taken almost an entire 12 months to complete has finally arrived at its conclusion. This Sunday, UPL sides will walk out for what will be the last time during the full 19/20 Favbet Liha campaign. 

The majority of final positionings have already been confirmed. Shakhtar were crowned Champions almost 4 weeks ago. Karpaty were removed from the league over a fortnight ago – with the club being the only side to be relegated from Ukraine’s top tier. Oleksandriya, Kolos, Dnipro-1 and Mariupol are all confirmed to prolong their season’s by an extra week at least. All four sides will enter a Europa League Play Off – two semi-finals and a final (one leg each) to see who claims the final UEL Q place for Ukraine in next season’s competition.

Aside from that mini tournament, the semi -finals of which will take place next week, positions second to fourth have not been mathematically defined. Dynamo take on Kolos at the Obolon Arena aiming to solidify their UCL Qualifying round status by not losing to their opponents. Meanwhile Zorya is still able to finish second, but only if Dynamo loses and they themselves win over Desna. However, it’s largely out of their own hands are losing to Dynamo in midweek.

UEL Play Offs

Zorya knew that a victory versus Dynamo on Thursday would have given them the ultimate advantage in the race for silver. However, it seemed the pressure in the situation got to them and the overall inferior individual quality the Luhansk squad possesses compared to that of Dynamo Kyiv.

Despite taking an early lead inside 3 minutes, thanks to Hromov, Viktor Skripnyk’s men were undone three times in the following 34 minutes to put the tie to bed already inside the first half.

Viktor Tsyhakov’s brace either side of a precision finish from Sydorchuk, ensured Dynamo’s season on paper at least didn’t look as bad as it had actually panned out in reality. Granted, the job isn’t done yet but expectations are that Dynamo will get the minimum point required against Kolos to secure that silver.

Elsewhere in Chernihiv, Desna were also hoping that their own challenge for the Champions League would be able to continue until the final day. However, just like Zorya, it seemed the occasion got to them. At the time when composure and experience matters most, Desna lacked the mental strength to pull themselves through.

To make matters worse, they lost to an experimental Oleksandriya side, who had nothing to play for, although Volodymyr Sharan did say the motivations for themselves were: ‘Getting revenge for the 5-1 humiliation earlier on in the campaign.’ However, Desna do still have an equal chance of finishing with a medal, to cap of an unprecedented season. They just need to defeat Zorya in Zaporizhya in the final fixture. It is all in their hands.

In the other echelons of the Championship Group, Shakhtar played an experimental youth squad against Kolos. Vladyslav Vakula made his debut with a start, over 7 months since returning from loan with Mariupol. Mykhaylo Mudryk was also presented with his first start.

Vakula impressed, but being played at right back just seems a waste for such a talented attacking player. Meanwhile Mudryk was rather quiet, but early days yet for him in his career. Goals from Cipriano and Moraes sealed the win. Shakhtar are already on course for a record points gap tally between themselves and second and should they win against Oleksandriya on the final day – then they will match Dynamo Kyiv’s 99/00 record for wins (27) and points (84).

The Relegation Zone was not a subdued affair despite their being not too much to play for.

Vorskla began midweek with a slim chance of overtaking their opponents Mariupol in the final UEL Play off spot. They sat five points behind with both sides having two games to go. However, in an already decided decision, Yuri Maksymov sent all his senior players on holiday a week early following their Cup exploits. As such, Vorskla’s youngsters gave Mariupol a good go! However, it wasn’t enough as Mariupol came from behind to win 2-1 and confirm their Play Off spot with Dnipro-1 whose match with Karpaty was logically cancelled.

In the other match, Olimpik travelled to Lviv for a dead rubber. It didn’t stop the Donetsk side from turning on the gas though. Lviv took an early lead through Renann before Olimpik struck FIVE! Dehtaryov got another brace and Iranian forward Zahedi picked up the match ball with a hattrick. NINE goals scored by Olimpik in their two final games. Where was this drive and finishing ability earlier on in the season?


Championship Group = (CG) | Relegation Group = (RG)


Dnipro-1 v Vorskla Poltava (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (RG)

Dnipro-1 return to action after they missed the midweek action due to Karpaty’s omission. They will use this game in preparation for next weekend’s UEL Play Off semi-final against Kolos. With this in mind, it’s uncertain whether Mykhailenko will use his strongest side or similarly give a few of his youngsters a run out. 

Vorskla, who have already permitted the majority of their senior squad to go on holiday ahead of 20/21 preseason will be fielding more youngsters as they have done in the previous two UPL rounds. Albeit, these academy players are far from push overs and have given two strong showings – narrowly losing to Mariupol in midweek and drawing against Lviv. 

Despite this, Dnipro-1 should they play a handful of their first teamers, then they should have enough to defeat the Ukrainian Cup runners up . 2-0

Olimpik Donetsk v Karpaty Lviv (FORFEITED) (RG)

No Karpaty, means no fixture fulfilment by them. As such Olimpik’s season ended in midweek with a 5-1 win and they get an early release to their summer vacations. 3-0

Lviv v Mariupol (15:00 BST / 17:00KYIV) (RG)

There’s nothing to play for, for either side in this game. Lviv are confirmed to finish eleventh whilst Mariupol are guaranteed eighth! Mariupol have been on the road since Wednesday – travelling from Mariupol to Lviv by bus via Poltava and Kyiv. The journey may tire them out. Lviv have looked quite good under their new manager but have been unable to hold onto leads. Maybe the fatigue factor of their opponents can play in their favour in this one. 2-1

Oleksandriya v Shakhtar (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

Oleksandriya have been in buoyant mood in recent weeks. Maybe the rumours of coach Sharan being replaced due to poor results this term was the catalyst to show how much the manager means to the players and how invaluable he has been in their rise over recent seasons. 

They played out another impressive performance against Desna with what was an experimental side to start off with. It’s likely they’ll line up with something similar against Shakhtar in what is an actual glorified friendly for both sides. Also, Sharan will have the UEL Play Offs on his mind which take place next week – with Oleksandriya taking on Mariupol in the semi-final of that.

On the other hand, Shakhtar are also expected to play a heavily changed side – albeit not too dissimilar from the youth experiment that started against Kolos on Wednesday. More senior minutes for the likes of Mudryk and Sikan is to be expected with Alan Patrick and Taison given some time off ahead of the UEL Round of 16 in August. Shakhtar have the likes of Marlos and Moraes included in the squad, so should it be required they do have the quality it takes to get all three points and set / equal a number of UPL records for their storming season. 0-1

Kolos Kovalivka v Dynamo Kyiv (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

A very simple task lies ahead for Dynamo. Do not lose and silver is yours! They come up against a side they have beaten on all three previous occasions this season and with Tsyhankov in his post lockdown form – it’s difficult to see this game ending any other way than an away win – especially with what’s on the line.

Kolos has given brave displays against Shakhtar this season and were unlucky to lose to Dynamo a month ago – but when push comes to shove – Dynamo’s quality should see them through with ease in this one, even without key man Verbic – who is unlikely to feature due to an ongoing injury. 0-2

Zorya Luhansk v Desna Chernihiv (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

This is the Bronze crunch match! There are a number of outcomes that are still possible for both sides.

Zorya win – Should Luhansk claim a victory they will confirm Bronze. 

They will finish second should this be combined with a Dynamo loss to Kolos.

Draw – Bronze confirmed for Zorya.

Desna win – Desna take bronze and a UEL GS place – whilst Zorya take the qualifying route and no medal place finish.

After the midweek anti-climax of both sides’ performances, this fixture is slightly less exciting than it could have been just a few short days ago. Both teams will be looking to put those displays behind them and press on for a medal finish. Whilst it may seem like a scant consolation after the seasons they have had, a place in next season’s UEL will be an unforgettable experience nonetheless. It would be more of a historic feat for Desna, having already made the record books with their highest ever finish regardless of what happens in this game. 

Zorya, just lack that killer edge at converting chances. The lack of an out and out forward has had an impact on this and should they have kept Rusyn for the whole season, this may have ended in a differing picture. After the underwhelming week following so much promise, it’s only right for this game to not live up to expectations. A hard fought draw . 1-1


‪On the latest episode we discuss:‬

The Ukrainian Cup Final

Competitiveness of Persha Liha

The final UPL run in

Transfer rumours






A rare midweek Matchday is upon us! It’s an essential game week for the medal chasers in particular, who have just two more attempts at gaining further points to help boost their European ambitions.

Since the weekend, there hasn’t such a great abundance of news or happenings bar the results of MD 30. 

It’s likely the most exciting finish to a season (title aside) since 2013/14 with three sides remaining in the run in for the elusive silver medal and more importantly a coveted seat at the UCL qualifying round table.

Zorya were first up on Saturday against Kolos. A dominating first half performance and a brace from Kocherhin was enough for Zorya to move clear of Dynamo and Desna early on. The second half was less than comfortable for Zorya, with Kolos showing how they are more than capable of matching their opponents when it comes to chances created and threats – but their finishing ultimately let them down. The Luhansk outfit rounded out the victory at 2-0 seeing them move into second on 57 points 

Fresh from their Ukrainian Cup win, fatigue and misfortune combined to add more woe to Dynamo’s campaign. Two penalties defined the match. Firstly, young defender Syrota, starting his third game in a row for Dynamo and in total ever for the senior team began to struggle with the awkwardness and physicality of Oleksandriya’s forward Bezborodko.

An early yellow card followed by a poor challenge inside the penalty area all inside 20 minutes was enough for Mykhaylychenko to realise he had made a mistake. He instantly subbed him off for Burda as Dynamo went behind as Tretyakov converted from 9 yards.

A poor first half from Dynamo was attempted at being remedied in the second by bringing on Tsyhakov at half time. It instantly injected some energy and precision into the Dynamo right flank. However it wasn’t until Verbic, coming on at the 60 minute mark where things began to shift in Dynamo’s favour.

Two quick fire goals from Dynamo’s current man of the moment saw the Kyiv side almost home and dry – easing the pressure on them in the final matches. However, it wasn’t meant to be as this time it was Shabanov’s turn to give away an unnecessary foul in the box which felled Shastal. Tretyakov stepped up again and converted accordingly. Points shared with a team that had nothing to play for was certainly not in the Dynamo coaching staff’s playbook – nor is anything else for that matter… Dynamo sit on 56 points with Zorya up next!

The final Championship Group game was played simultaneously with the latter. Desna had a big chance to exploit a supposed weakened Shakhtar side missing the likes of Marlos and Moraes and maintain an advantage in the medal race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Shakhtar, once again demonstrated their squad depth, unmatched anywhere else in the league (Man City-esque) and went ahead inside 25 minutes thanks to two goals scored within a minute of each other.

Solomon cut in from the left and caught Past off guard with an unexpected drive at the goal. Before the Israeli teed up Tete to give Shakhtar the lead from two chances which came out of relatively nothing. Desna took little time of their own to peg Shakhtar back – when they scored from a corner – Hitchenko again involved! Then in the second half after some Desna pressure, a Shakhtar counter saw Maycon get a rare goal to all but take the game away from Chernihiv.

Desna responded in quick time once more, with Filippov unleashing an early finessed finish from all of 30 yards out, which Pyatov had not been expecting. Alan Patrick, then capped off an impressive and once again understated performance with a goal of his own to round off the scoring.

Desna did have chances to get back in it, but luckily for Shakhtar, their former forward Pylyp Budkivskyi had a goal gaping as Pyatov ran out of his box to contest a ball. Instead, Budkivskyi slipped, missed the opporutnity before trying an audacious chip from 45 yards out as Pyatov ran back to his goal. Typically it ended on the roof of the net. A 4-2 Shakhtar win left Desna on 45 points – at a natural disadvantage but just two points off of their goal.

It is all delicately poised for the two remaining matchdays now!

Elsewhere, the Relegation Group saw a couple of high scoring games themselves. Vladyslav Supryaha continued his goalscoring form as he notched a brace in Dnipro-1’s comeback win over Lviv were initially 2-0 up. Rennan’s brace helped Lviv to a comfortable advantage before the on loan Dynamo man levelled proceedings with his goals to take him two clear (9) of the total Dynamo Kyiv UPL goals the forwards have scored in 2020 (7). Khoblenko won it for Dnipro-1 as Lviv went to sleep for a second game in a row and were made to pay.

Meanwhile, the other fixture between Mariupol and Olimpik played out to bewildering scenes. Olimpik won which was a shock in itself but they also did it in style. 4-1 was the final score line even with Olimpik starting a weakened eleven.

Mariupol were woeful, including a howler from the keeper Halchyk – aiming to dribble it past an onrushing defender on his goal line. Only to be tackled with ease, have Dehtaryov convert and then have the majority of social media question whether your team threw the game following such suspicious behaviour from the Mariupol first choice keeper.


Championship Group = (CG) | Relegation Group = (RG)


Shakhtar Donetsk v Kolos Kovalivka (17:00 BST / 19:00 KYIV) (CG)

Shakhtar have got two final competitive matches to see out before the end of the season. Markedly these two games will also be the last ones they will play before the UEL Round of 16 game versus Wolfsburg in early August. So warming up for that will be a priority.

Following on the trend from last week, Luis Castro has given some of his key men a week’s holiday – permitting Stepanenko, Pyatov and Kryvtsov to have a break following their integral part in the title triumph. 

On the other hand, Marlos, Moraes and Matviyenko all return following their time away albeit it is expected their roles will remain limited to allow the fringe players more time on the pitch.

Mykhaylo Mudryk and U20 World Cup winner Danylo Sikan are expected to pick up some more minutes in the next two fixtures; ahead of potentially breakthrough years for the pair in 20/21. Kolos have been notoriously difficult to beat for Shakhtar this term but they have managed to do so-just each time! Likely to be another one of those. 1-0

Dnipro-1 v Karpaty Lviv (FORFEITED) (RG)

No Karpaty means no fixture fulfilment by them. As such Dnipro-1 get a midweek rest and free three nil victory to their record. 3-0


Lviv v Olimpik Donetsk (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (RG)

An absolute dead rubber. Both sides aren’t going anywhere this season but still seem to be putting shifts in on the pitch regardless of how defining their performances actually are at this point of the season. Olimpik surprisingly scored 4 goals against Mariupol in the last round.

Whilst Lviv have scored 2 goals in each of their last two games but have let leads slip in both. This fixture has been a tight one previously this season and it wouldn’t be a shock to see another tie where the two can’t be separated given the uninspiring circumstances. 0-0

Vorskla v Mariupol (15:00 BST / 17:00KYIV) (RG)

Some were touting this game as a potential cup final of its own with the final Europa League Play Off tournament spot at stake. Going into this match, five points separate the two teams. Vorskla play their first game since the Cup final loss to Dynamo. Despite their brave and resolute performance in that game, it is fair to predict that the side stood up to the occasion for that silverware event. Whereas this match, returning to the league format may reassert the reasons as to why Vorskla sit ninth in the table at this stage anyway. They may have been reborn under Maksymov but there still remain some problematic areas in the side – none more so than consistent goalscoring and lapses in concentration at the back – preventing them from holding onto leads. 

Mariupol themselves are a strange anomaly. Their 4-1 defeat to a half strength Olimpik calls into question, both match-fixing or just lack of motivation – despite them not being mathematically safe in the final UEL PO place. Nonetheless, a late Europa charge would probably be asking too much too soon from Vorskla after a momentous turn around already this season in staying up after a dismal start and playing some coherent football once again to match. Typical draw – as it panned out last time. 1-1

Desna v Oleksandriya (17:00 BST / 19:00 KYIV) (CG)

Desna may have felt slightly disheartened about their silver medal chances in the immediate aftermath, following their defeat to a weakened Shakhtar on the weekend. However, they are very much still in the race with two games to go. Should Desna defeat Oleksandriya at home, they will remain in a strong position to finish in a medal place with fellow silver medal pursuer Zorya to come in the UPL finale on Sunday. 

Despite the 4-2 score line against Shakhtar, Desna were still able to display snippets as to why they remain (albeit unprecedently) in the hunt. They’re extremely dangerous from set pieces. With physical defenders, who like to cause a nuisance in the opposition’s box, there’s always someone able to get a free header away or finish off a scramble. Hitchenko has been particularly nascent in this area of late. Meanwhile, Filippov has also continued to be the most consistent forward in the side. Whilst he sometimes struggles to finish off the easier chances in games, he seems more comfortable finishing the more difficult ones; such as the early outside the box finish against Shakhtar. 

Although they were eventually overrun by Shakhtar’s more energetic midfield, against the likes of Oleksandriya – who will be aiming to conserve energy ahead of the Europa League Play Off tournament next week – this fixture shouldn’t be too problematic going off how the season has played out so far. Win or bust for Desna. . 2-0

Dynamo Kyiv v Zorya Luhansk (17:00 BST / 19:00 KYIV) (CG)

Another game of Cup Final proportions – this time it’s in the league. This fixture is of great significance to both sides as they meet at the Olympiyskyi on Thursday. A win for either would give them a serious foothold in the silver stakes and brand that victor the favourite to enter the UCL 3rd Q round following Sunday’s conclusion of the 19/20 campaign. 

Dynamo sit a point behind Zorya going into this. The last time the sides met, a month ago, Dynamo came back from a goal down to inflict an impressive 3-1 defeat in Zaporizhya. In that game, it was the substitutes De Pena and Tsyhankov that changed the game for Dynamo and it’s expected after a number of experimental line ups for Dynamo of late due to injuries and resting; the strongest possible starting side will kick off. De Pena is expected to retain his spot on the left, with Tsyhankov coming in on the right from the ouset. Meanwhile Benjamin Verbic, who’s enjoying a rich vein or form playing as a centre forward is anticipated to stay there. 

Syrota will revert back to the bench following his week of numerous baptisms of fire with either the now fit Burda deputising or Popov who is also expected to be back from injury. Unfortunately, for Dynamo fans, it’s difficult to see Mykhaylychenko offering anything other than his trusted midfield three of Sydorchuk, Shepelev and Buyalskyy; just because that’s the way the manager works. A shame as Shaparenko impressed against Oleksandriya.

As for Zorya, their on loan Dynamo men has different rules applied. Lednev has not featured in any of the previous  three fixtures versus his parent club and as such it’s expected that that will continue. Meanwhile, Tymchyk who has started on the bench previously against his main club, is expected to start in a defensive capacity of some sort. Without Hromov in the team, Zorya looked a lot more fluid in attack – Perovic and Kabaev were linking well as a strike partnership – although they too need to improve their finishing if they are to emulate what Kabaev had with Rusyn before the New Year. Vladlen Yurchenko should not be understated either, he’s probably been the most consistent player in the Zorya side – enjoying his playmaker role as one of the more senior heads  (26) in the youthful set up. 

Dynamo certainly have a more bountiful squad which includes players that possess greater game changing quality than that of Zorya and as such when it’s needed most – Dynamo could pull out the win. It will all depend on how disciplined Zorya are and whether their midfield and defence can unpick the usually large holes in Dynamo’s midfield and pounce on the lack of match sharpness in Dynamo’s defenders to gain those coveted 3 points and move one step closer to that debut UCL appearance.

Too close to call but will certainly be an open and entertaining game at one point or another. 2-2

THE END for Karpaty Lviv – UPL MD 30

It’s official! The UPL is left with eleven teams for the remainder of the season!

The sole team that was likely to be relegated anyway, has been removed from the division after failing to fulfil two fixtures in a row and not giving valid reasons for those unfulfillments. The UAF announced earlier this week that Karpaty Lviv’s time in the UPL is prematurely over! However, it has also confirmed that the side is not completely dead just yet. They have not had their professional status removed and as such are still able to apply for a Persha Liha licence. Whether that is acted upon, we will have to wait and see. 

In general, it has been a rather crazy week in Ukrainian football – even for its own high standards for unusual behaviour! FC Metal, a new phoenix club claiming to be the true successor to Metalist Kharkiv has emerged with hopes of obtaining professional status next season. This project has been masterminded by former Metalist sporting director Krasnikov and would cast doubts on the legitimacy of current Persha Liha promotion contenders Metalist 1925.

Elsewhere in the new football club creation factory, were reporting that a new team is being formed that will be called… ZORYA-1972 !!! The side will represent Luhansk but be based in Kyiv. It is expected they too will register for pro status next week. They have similar hopes of entering the Druha Liha for the 20/21 season. The General Director will become Dynamo Kyiv Vice President – Oleksiy Semenenko with finances being provided by a successful Ukrainian businessman. Does this spell trouble for the original Zorya Luhansk; with a rival side aiming to steal its identity?

Aside from the strange activities off the pitch, Kharkiv hosted one of the greatest Ukrainian Cup Finals of all time in midweek. A fiercely contested tie between Dynamo and Vorskla was end to end for the majority of the 120 minutes – with one of the highest quality penalty shoot outs you may ever witness eventually awarding a victor! The game ended 1-1 at Full Time. Ruslan Stepanyuk gave Vorskla a shock lead inside 10 minutes before the constantly threatening Verbic equalised on 37’.

From then on, nothing else was able to separate the teams, with Vorskla goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk pulling out a Man of the Match performance with a number of stunning saves. The real standout moment came from the outfield players in the shoot-out. Top corner finishes were more common than not in this high octane match decider. Shabanov eventually won it for Dynamo are Bayenko skied his shot so high it probably went into orbit. Dynamo won 8-7 on penalties following 18 taken in total.

It’s Dynamo’s first major piece of silverware for four years, their twelfth Ukrainian Cup in total, but they can’t afford to rest on this achievement just yet with their fight for silver still very much in the balance in the league!


Championship Group = (CG) | Relegation Group = (RG)


Kolos Kovalivka v Zorya Luhansk (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (CG)

A must win game for Zorya as they face bottom of the top six side Kolos. With games against both of their medal rivals coming up in the final two fixtures of the season next week, ensuring they have are toe to toe with their rivals going into that or even at an advantage will boost their chances of a historic finish in second.

The unprecedented 2-2 draw to Oleksandriya last week dented their chances of an earlier advantage going into these final games. Anything but a victory in Obolon in this match up could well lead to extra pressure in the coming games. The question is whether Skripnyk and his young men have the bottle – if they don’t, they won’t be deserving of a place in the UCL Qualifiers anyway. Away win expected. 0-2

Karpaty Lviv v Vorskla Poltava (FORFEITED) (RG)

With Karpaty now officially omitted from the UPL – Vorskla get some extra rest following their Cup Final efforts and a nice 3-0 win, as will all the other sides that were meant to play Karpaty until the end of the season. 0-3

Dnipro-1 v Lviv (17:30 BST / 19:30KYIV) (RG)

Dnipro-1 are guaranteed a UEL Play Off place. Vorskla are unable to catch them with the amount of points left on offer. The side will now aim to maintain seventh place and claim the last ever Trophy of Prestige before the league reverts back to a full table for the entirety of next season. It’s still uncertain whether Dnipro-1 will actually be able to play in Europe should they qualify, as they were only established in 2017 and UEFA rules state that a club must exist for at least 5 years to be able to participate. 

However, that bridge can be crossed should the eventuality arise. Can Supryaha add a late flurry of goals to his tally of 10 so far and potentially challenge those ahead of him? With the quality of opposition coming up and the lack of motivation facing those sides, the young Dynamo loanee would hope so. Comfortable win for the hosts. 2-0


Mariupol v Olimpik Donetsk (15:00 BST17:00 KYIV) (RG)

As it stands, it is looking like Mariupol are on course for a UEL Play Off place where they will battle it out against the three sides above them for Ukraine’s final Qualifying spot for Europe’s second tier competition. They come up against Olimpik Donetsk who mathematically can’t finish their opponents unless Mariupol lost all their remaining games and Olimpik won all of theirs. Both seem highly unlikely circumstances. As such, Mariupol are favourites here to pick up another win as they prepare for that play off mini tournament. 2-0

Desna v Shakhtar Donetsk  (17:30 BST19:30 KYIV) (CG)

No Marlos, Moraes or Matviyenko for Shakhtar in this game. Castro has sent them on holiday with 3 games to go to have some extra rest ahead of regrouping for the Europa League in early August. Although Castro did promise that his line ups against all three medal chasers would be of similar strength, without those three key men (regardless of whether they started or came off the bench) will be a gain for Desna on paper at least. Desna don’t look to be slowing down as the season comes to an end.

They’ve kept up this intensity for so long now that it would be a disservice to themselves should they step of the accelerator now. Against a unmotivated and second string Shakhtar side – you really shouldn’t rule it out. Some huge cup final type games coming up in the final two fixtures should Desna get the win here. If they don’t, it’s going to be highly likely that they finish in fourth. 2-1

Oleksandriya v Dynamo Kyiv (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

Dynamo may very well still be on cloud 9 following their Cup win in midweek but they seriously need to discard those emotions and focus on the task at hand if they want to finish second still. They will be hoping Shakhtar do them a favour and take points off their medal rivals Desna whilst they themselves will need to defeat Oleksandriya.

The latter is the easy bit – having beaten their opponents 5-1 a few weeks ago and with Oleksandriya guaranteed fifth place in the table – anything but a win would be a catastrophic failure. If Verbic is in the same type of mood that he was in versus Vorskla and starts up front again, then the Oleksandriya back line be facing some serious problems. Expected away win in this one. 0-3

K A (R . I . P) A T Y – UPL MD 29

The end of another historic UPL club is nigh according to numerous sources in Ukraine. Karpaty Lviv, winners of the 1969 Soviet Cup, are on the verge of being another casualty in the list of teams in Ukraine that have fallen due to disregard and financial mismanagement.

Earlier this week, news broke that new Karpaty Co-owner Oleh Smaliychuk has spent the past few weeks attempting to reach an agreement with Karpaty’s other owner – Ihor Kolomoyskyi…

The talks were meant to regard the paying of a $5 million debt that the club needs to clear should they want to receive a UPL license for next season. The deadline for the license renewal was Tuesday 30th June. No agreement was reached, as Karpaty claim Kolomoyskyi never showed up to talks and has shown no intent to rectify the situation.

Furthermore, Karpaty missed one of their UPL games in hand versus Mariupol in midweek and have confirmed that they will not fulfil yet another fixture against Mariupol this weekend – as such all but confirming their forfeiting of the league and it seems that their withdrawal from the league is imminent as a result.

Certain figures have attempted to aid Karpaty in the meantime such as Rukh owner Hryhoriy Kozlovskyi offering to pay the away game fees for the remainder of the season, but these handouts were rejected by Karpaty. The club believes these offers are just to increase the clout of certain individuals rather than helping Karpaty in the long run.

“We are able to afford to play out our away fixtures, herein does not lie the problem. Rather it is the $5 million debt we need to pay off and as such if we are unable to, what is the point of us wasting more resource playing out the season, if we won’t be given a license for the next campaign anyway!”

As such it is expected that the club may either fold entirely and turn into a phoenix club a la Metalist 1925 or become incorporated into Rukh Lviv, with the club brand and history living on with a Rukh rebrand… However these are all currently rumours and as such no decisions have been made regarding the future of the club at this stage. Either way, it doesn’t look bright!

Back to the actual football side of things on the pitch. The medal race is back to a neck and neck scenario!

Desna beat Dynamo 3-2 in an electric thriller last Sunday. Dynamo once again showing how underwhelming the current squad is and how the coaching staff are none the wiser in how to improve it – despite largely obvious changes that they refuse to make.

Hitchenko’s added time header sunk the hearts of the large travelling Dynamo contingent, who inspired by Zorya fans the week prior – used ingenious ways to see out the game!

Tsyhankov proved once again how pivotal he is to the side with a brace; whilst the question as to why Carlos De Pena doesn’t start was once again brought into the spotlight following another impressive performance from him after coming on as a half time substitute.

For the neutral it makes all the more for a hugely entertaining end to the 19/20 campaign.

Shakhtar lifted the UPL
trophy post match

Also in with the medal shout is Zorya who drew 0-0 with already Champions Shakhtar. If there’s any indication as to whether players will be rested by Luis Castro for the remainder of the season as a result, it didn’t look like it. The likes of Tete and Konoplyanka did start but come full time, Shakhtar’s strongest XI were all out on the pitch. Not a good omen for Dynamo who face The Miners this weekend.

Elsewhere in the championship group, Kolos got their first win following a string of seven straight defeats defeating Oleksandriya in assertive fashion and not changing much for their own situation but more or less confining their opponents to a fifth place finish.

In the Relegation Group; Dnipro-1 recorded a shock loss to their rivals for seventh place – Mariupol who beat them 3-0. Olimpik and Vorskla played out a subdued 0-0 draw whilst the Lviv Derby and what may turn out to be Karpaty’s last ever UPL match (following the developments this week) ended 1-1 with a spirited second half comeback display by Karpaty who were down to 10 men for its entirety!

Yaroslav Deda grabbed what looks to be their final goal in the top flight just minutes after coming off the bench.

Zorya Londonsk also took part in a brand new podcast focused on Ukrainian football this week! Much of the above was discussed along with other COVID & football related topics. So if you have yet to listen check it out via the links!

Apple Podcasts:




Championship Group = (CG) | Relegation Group = (RG)


Lviv v Vorskla Poltava (17:00 BST / 19:00 KYIV) (RG)

Vorskla get given 24 hours extra rest ahead of the Ukrainian cup final next Wednesday as they take on Lviv in the Friday fixture. This one is also for the history books as Ternopil City Stadium hosts its UPL game since it’s 2012 renovation. Lviv are playing in the neighbouring oblast for the remainder of the season due to a high level of COVID diagnoses in their hometown.

Lviv began life under new Georgian coach Gio Tsitsadze in relatively underwhelming fashion. They drew versus Karpaty; taking a lead against their rivals via a very fortunate own goal and then crumbled in the second half to a side with 10 men for the entirety of it. Lviv are lucky that Karpaty are in such a state, otherwise they could have seriously been threatened with relegation themselves due to the amount of games in hand their rivals had to play. 

Vorskla struggled to find the net versus Olimpik last time out but were once again resolute defensively. They were without their key defender Alioune but managed to keep their less than average opponents at bay. With primary focus on the biggest game in the past decade for club likely to be prioritised over a more or less meaningless league tie, some changes and experimentation should be expected from Maksymov. One eye will certainly be on Wednesday. 

If any sides can play out a goalless draw it’s these two in the circumstances. A bore draw expected. 0-0


Mariupol v Karpaty Lviv (CANCELLED)(RG)

Alexa play That’s Life by Frank Sinatra… Karpaty have confirmed that they will not complete the second of their two anticipated fixtures versus Mariupol this week. Having missed the midweek game in hand tie due to the current situation at the club – the same reason rings true just a few days later. It’s a more than likely scenario that Karpaty have already played their last UPL game this season… . P-P

Dynamo Kyiv v Shakhtar Donetsk (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

Another Clasichne! But it’s not exactly one that’s being eagerly anticipated on this occassion. Despite Dynamo’s tedious position in second, the fact that Shakhtar have already won the league makes the competition against the two sides in this game a bit of a no contest.

Shakhtar are less than motivated to bring the game to their opponents since the restart. They showed this in the ‘re-opener’ reverse match against Dynamo at the end of May and still ended up winning 3-1 on the day. Just a class above their opponents at the moment. Compounded by the way Dynamo played versus Desna, optimism is rather low in the Kyiv camp.

After making some changes to his XI versus Zorya last weekend, Luis Castro is expected to play a strong enough side against the arch rivals, in preparation for their European round of 16 tie in August. This Clasico fixture is the last match up that will come close (but not really) to the quality The Miners will face in the Europa League. If Shakhtar take all the spoils in this one, they will sit TWENTY points clear in top spot. A gap that if remains come the end of the season will see Shakhtar grab a new UPL record bettering Dynamo’s 1999/00 margin of 18…

Dynamo will no doubt want to prevent that from happening but more pressingly want to ensure that their hegemony in second remains in place until the season’s close. Following their Desna defeat, it remains difficult to ascertain whether Dynamo will be able to muster anything against their one true enemy club. Mykhaylychenko experimentation against fellow medal chasers backfired last week, although a string of substitutions did seem to restore Kyiv’s dominance until the very end. Can Mykhaylychenko muster the courage to start the likes of 2019 POTY Carlos De Pena or June’s POTM contender Mikkel Duelund after eye catching performances of late? The answer to that is a high possibility ‘no’.

More of the same expected – although the absence of Shepelev due to suspension does give Dynamo room to push Buyalskyi deeper into midfield and allow Duelund in at number 10. The issue then remains as to whether Verbic, who ended up playing the entire second half against Desna as the sole forward, can cut it up there. Albeit, all the other members of Dynamo’s striker club are unable to function correctly under Dynamo’s playing style. Something which is as baffling to the spectators and worryingly for the players too. The main issue being that nobody knows what it is or what it is trying to achieve.

The result won’t be so severe this time round, compared to a few weeks ago. However, in true Shakhtar fashion, they’ll have just enough to nick it and ensure the medal races remain wide open. 0-1


Desna Chernihiv v Kolos Kovalivka (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (CG)

Desna have a perfect opportunity this weekend to take advantage of the potential chaos that may ensue around them in the table. After their warranted but shock win versus Dynamo last weekend, Desna play yet another game at home. Something tells us there won’t be any away fans in cherry pickers this matchday, with the type of support that Kolos have. With that victory, Desna have ensured that they remain ‘amongst it’ when it comes to the medal race.

Ryabokon – UPL’s MOTM for June

They’re just a point behind Zorya and three behind Dynamo, who they should leapfrog, due to an enhanced H2H record, should the levelling of points occur. It really is too close to call when it comes to the finishing predictions, with all three chasers’ results. However as Desna are up against bottom Championship Group side Kolos – who saw their first win, last matchday, following seven straight defeats.

With the way Desna have been performing in recent weeks and throughout the season, it would be disappointing to see them drop off in the final run in but nothing seems to suggest they will do. The pressure doesn’t seem to be getting to them. 2-0

Olimpik Donetsk v Dnipro-1  (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (RG)

Olimpik seem to be drifting toward the end of the season in uninspired fashion. They’ve picked up some good results in recent games but very far from inspiring.

Meanwhile Dnipro-1 have been on a slight decline and have let their lead at the top of the Relegation Group slip to just one point. Mariupol are breathing down their necks, so they can’t afford to drop too many points. Although if Dynamo Kyiv win the Cup next week, it could increase the UEL Play off catchment area from fifth to eighth place. Dnipro-1 do need a comeback and have got the better quality in their ranks. As such they should pick up the three points in this one. 0-2

Zorya Luhansk v Oleksandriya (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

Zorya continue their attempts at pushing for a record finish as they take on the most out of form side in the top half of the table. Oleksandriya have been in freefall since June despite surprisingly beating Zorya in the post Covid restart opener. Zorya got a well earned point versus Shakhtar last Saturday but will need to improve in taking their goalscoring opportunities with the need to win games essential between now and the season’s crescendo.

Fortunately, they come up against a down and out Oleksandriya who lost their last four consecutive games following their last minute victory over Zorya in May.

There have even been rumours that Volodymyr Sharan, Oleksandriya’s most successful manager is on the verge of being replaced by former Olimpik Donetsk head coach, Vicente Gomez – who didn’t show much during his debut managerial stint in the UPL.

That is likely to come at a head following the close of the campaign – which couldn’t come soon enough for the visitors. They’re now nine points behind Desna in fourth and as a result can now prepare for the UEL Play Offs which will follow the conclusion of the league fixtures. 

With Zorya’s need for a victory more essential than that of their opponents, they will be more motivated in this one. It won’t be easy, but Zorya should just scrape through. 1-0




Covering all the news since the COVID restart: Dynamo’s recent plight

Karpaty’s financial woes

Spectators at BCD games






MEDALSMEN: The Podium Chasers – UPL MD 28

Another eventful week in the world of Ukrainian football has passed by and it’s not over just yet with Matchday 28 still to come.

The biggest news from the past seven days was that of Shakhtar lifting their fourth consecutive UPL title and their thirteenth in total last Saturday. Their 3-2 win over Oleksandriya sees them wrap up proceedings with 5 games left to go. Liverpool-esque, albeit the Merseyside club won their title by an even greater gulf in points and games to play! With the silverware now officially secured, the main intrigue continues to focus on the teams below The Miners and their struggles for the remaining two medal places.

In this secondary battle for second and third place; things began to space out a bit more. Dynamo maintained their 3 point lead over Zorya thanks to a crazy game versus Kolos. Referee Serhiy Boyko came under huge scrutiny after the game had FIVE penalty shouts. Following VAR reviews, four of those were given. Two were given to each side. Kolos missed one of theirs whilst the other three were converted.

However controversy ensued as to whether Dynamo’s winner was actually a penalty in the first place when Yefremov was adjudged to have pulled Carlos De Pena down with a fingertip pull of his shirt – when it looked more like a slip on the heavily rained on Olympiyskyi pitch! All three points went to Dynamo in truly fortunate circumstances.

In the other game, Desna met with Zorya. The visitors were the better side on the evening, not allowing Chernihiv too many chances to attack. The scoreline was a lot narrower than the actual events of the game which saw Zorya miss a whole load of chances. However they prevailed in the end to give themselves momentary breathing room in bronze. This could all change once again this weekend as Zorya face Shakhtar and Dynamo travel north to Chernihiv!

Elsewhere in the league, Lviv parted ways with their Armenian manager Yegishe Melikyan on Sunday after three straight defeats since the return from lockdown. He was replaced by a South Caucasus neighbour – Giorgi Tsitsadze and his Georgian backroom staff who will be in charge for this weekend’s Lviv Derby versus Karpaty!

The fateful defeat for Melikyan was a 3-0 drubbing by Mariupol. Whilst Vorskla pulled off a surprise 2-0 victory against high fliers Dnipro-1. Both Ukrainian Cup Semi Finalists preparing positively for their game that would take place in midweek. 

Karpaty’s return to action following self quarantine and their Covid troubles was ironically pushed back by yet another week. This time it was their opponents Olimpik Donetsk who had some positive cases in their squad meaning that the game had to be postponed. Just the four games in hand for Karpaty at the minute.

Another substantial headline came from the Ukrainian Cup Semi Final between Mariupol and Vorskla on Wednesday. After a rather subdued 90 minutes and extra time. The scores were level at one apiece. Goals from Horbunov for the hosts and a Kane penalty for the visitors ended up seeing the game run down to a shoot out. Here is where the managerial genius combined with on the pitch talent to send Vorskla into only the second ever cup final in their history!

16 year old Pavlo Isenko was brought on just before penalties commenced. It was the Ukraine youth international’s debut for the senior side and boy did he take the chance! Out of five penalties faced, he emphatically saved three to put Poltava through! Vorskla won the 3-2 thanks to Isenko’s saves and has instantly become a name to be remembered for the future! Poltava will now face Dynamo Kyiv in the Cup Final on July 8 in Kharkiv!


Championship Group = (CG) | Relegation Group = (RG)


Karpaty v Lviv (15:00 BST / 17:00KYIV) (RG)

A Lviv Derby gets Matchday 28 underway this week! This fixture has been truly underwhelming over the past couple of seasons with low scoring games and draws being the common denominator when these two rivals meet. On the pitch it’s likely to be much of the same in that respect. 

Karpaty return to first team action for the first time in over 3 and a half months after their post lockdown restart was delayed due to their own covid outbreak across the majority of their playing and coaching personnel.

Not only have they been affected with illness but due to the season delays, they have lost a number of key players. Luxembourg internationals Tim Hall and Marvin Martins left during the proper lockdown whilst just this week key man Yehor Nazaryna returned back to Royal Antwerp in Belgium and on loan Olimpik forward Matar Dieye went back to his parent club.

Lviv had their own troubles this week, replacing their manager due to the poor restart they have faced. Whilst they are above their opponents by a fair few points in the table, should Karpaty pull some performances out in their games in hand – Lviv could find themselves at risk of relegation. 

This fixture will take place in Lutsk at Volyn’s stadium due to the high COVID numbers in Lviv. No Karpaty Ultras this time round will force sole focus on the events on the pitch… which won’t be too pretty. 0-0

Kolos Kovalivka v Oleksandriya (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (CG)

This game looks to be a bit of a dead rubber. Neither side has too much to play for as a result of their recent form in the Championship group. Kolos are mathematically unable to catch their opponents in the table with 5 games to go whilst it’s looking more and more unlikely that Oleksandriya have any chance of recreating a medal finish being nine points off the pace of third.

In essence it’s a glorified friendly with both teams wanting to restore some lost pride. Oleksandriya defeated Kolos 4-2 in the reverse fixture of this game back in March. Both sides put in good performances in their matchday 27 defeats, so it will be interesting to see if either can pounce on that and bring their losing streaks to an end. It’s a tough one to call. A draw would not be surprising . 1-1

Shakhtar Donetsk v Zorya Luhansk (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

The Champions will be coming out to a guard of honour for the remaining five games they have to play. Although whether the side that receives that applause will be full strength or experimental remains to seen.

Rumours are already circulating that the lesser used members of Luis Castro’s squad will be given more of a run out now the deed has been completed. As such The Miners play the role of Kingmakers or more accurately Princemakers as the season ticks down.

Depending on the starting XI chosen in the games versus medal contenders, will either directly benefit one over the others. Whether these sides will get equal treatment will be interesting. The likes of Tete and Konoplyanka are almost certainly going to get more minutes and that’s likely to start this weekend.

On the other hand Zorya have already beaten Shakhtar once this season, grabbing a 1-0 victory in the reverse of this Championship Group fixture just before lockdown was announced. As such they certainly have the ability to inflict some damage against their Donbas in exile neighbours.

A huge boost for Skripnyk’s men comes in the return of Bohdan Lednev who successfully served a one match ban for accumulated yellow cards. His chance creation and finishing ability will benefit his side who have been less than clinical infront goal in recent matches.

A big blow comes in defence with Yevhen Cheberko starting a one match ban of his own following a second yellow and red versus Desna. Abu Hanna is expected to start alongside Vernydub at the back as a result. This really could go either way but with more riding on a positive result for the visitors you’d expect them to narrowly do the double over the newly crowned Champions. 0-1


Mariupol v Dnipro-1 (15:00 BST / 17:00KYIV) (RG)

Mariupol’s season seemingly came to an end on Wednesday as they went out the Ukrainian Cup to Vorskla. Despite this heartbreak, they sit just four points behind their visitors in the table who are in the prized final Europa League play off place. With Dnipro-1 picking up inconsistent results such as their defeat to Vorskla last time out, it’s not inconceivable that Mariupol could leapfrog them in the remaining games.

Victory for The Seagulls in this one will put them in good stead for the final run of games but it must be said that Dnipro-1 do possess some quality players in their squad and on paper at least should have enough to remain at the top of the mini league. Mariupol were unable to carve any real chances in their Cup Game and with them starting their first team in that game, the extra days of rest for Dnipro-1 may come in handy.

Dnipro-1 have already defeated their hosts twice in 2020 so far – so another victory would not be too surprising . 1-2

Vorskla Poltava v Olimpik Donetsk (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (RG)

Likely to still be high from their historic win in midweek, Vorskla will need to regain focus on the league albeit with not too much to play for. Their shock win over Dnipro-1 last week does provide food for thought and whether a late run could see them challenge for eighth but being eight points behind seventh seems a task too far.

Preparations over the next couple weeks will likely be more seen as warm up games for the Ukrainian Cup Final against Dynamo Kyiv. Olimpik on the other hand will be wanting to amass enough points to be safely out of relegation’s reach with Karpaty’s number of games in hand being kept in mind.

This fixture has all the hallmarks of a narrow win for the hosts who really have got into the groove of things recently. A Cup hangover is possible but when you’re up against the likes of Olimpik – Vorskla should have just enough.  1-0

Desna Chernihiv v Dynamo Kyiv (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

It’s the GAME OF THE WEEK. For a second matchday in a row Desna are involved as the medal race continues to tick down towards its great crescendo! Desna suffered a setback in their hopes for bronze after defeat to Zorya last week. The harsh reality was that Desna were second best in that game and were just unable to carve any serious chances – with Filippov having a quiet game.

Meanwhile Dynamo were equally poor in their match against Kolos and were seriously fortunate to get a win thanks to some controversial refereeing. Their performance had it not been for penalties was also well below par. No clear cut opportunities and flat build up play. Further still, had Kolos possessed a bit more quality in their own ranks, they would have beaten Dynamo.

As such, it’s a vital game for both of these sides. Both need wins. Desna need to remain within touching distance of Zorya and could even level with them should the latter lose to Shakhtar. Meanwhile Dynamo want to maintain their own cushioned position in silver, also keeping an eye on events in the Shakhtar game.

Viktor Tsyhankov is likely to start for the first time since lockdown having impressed since coming on from the bench on two occasions. Whilst for Desna, their game depends on Filippov being at his goalscoring best. Having already scored twice against Dynamo in three games so far this season he is more than capable of adding to that. The last time these two met, it ended in a draw and it wouldn’t be too outlandish if that were to happen again. 1-1

UPLovin’ it: Choose your BRONZE medallist – UPL MD 27

It’s been another packed news week for Ukrainian football despite the majority of the world’s sporting focus geared towards the the return of the Premier League in England. 

UEFA’s ExCo took place on Wednesday, confirming the future of a number of its competitions, in which Ukrainian sides will be taking part in.

The remainder of the Europa League will take place in August across a number of German cities – with the final ultimately held in Köln without spectators. Should Shakhtar hope to make it there; they will need to play out the second leg of the R16 tie with Wolfsburg.

It is still to be decided whether they will play this game in a behind closed doors Metalist Stadium or under similar circumstances in Germany. However, from the Quarter Finals onwards, each tie will be cut to just one leg.

Meanwhile, the National Team has a number of things to look forward to. In preparation for next year’s EUROs, UEFA confirmed that the Nations League will take place this autumn.

They will be keeping the original dates for matchdays whilst also adding in two friendly slots in October and November to aid sides as they haven’t met since late 2019. Combined with this, Ukraine will find out their final EUROs opponents in October – as UEFA agreed upon the dates for the Play Offs to be played.

The question remains until then; whether it will be Romania, Belarus, Georgia, Macedonia or Kosovo that joins Ukraine in Group C. Whoever that will be, will be playing across the same original host 12 cities that have been reconfirmed; Whilst the tournament itself will take place on the same ‘days’ as it was expected to this year.

Back to the domestic game and it was a positive week for Dynamo Kyiv. Not only did they come from behind against Zorya to beat them 3-1 and reassert a lead in second, but they also rather routinely swept aside Minaj 2-0 in the Ukrainian Cup Semi Final.

Tsyhankov marked his return from injury with a goal in the league win; whilst Mikkel Duelund was the star man in midweek, grabbing a brace on a rare start under Mykhaylychenko. Vorskla travel to Mariupol in the other Cup Semi Final next Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the Championship Group, Shakhtar placed another finger of the trophy as they narrowly defeated Kolos 1-0. In what was far from a vintage performance from Shakhtar, the tepid return from lockdown continued. Kolos were well organised and determined to end their own streak of losses but Moraes had other ideas as he got the winner.

Desna, then inflicted a second consecutive 5-1 demolition of Oleksandriya, following the side’s humiliation at the hands of Dynamo the weekend before. Oleksandr Filippov seems to be intent on chasing down Moraes for the golden boot as he ended his dry patch with a brace – a run he is hoping will catch the attention of Shevchenko and the National Team. This win combined with Zorya’s loss sets up another tight encounter in the race for the medals this week.

There was finally some good in the Relegation Group, as Karpaty returned to training following a two week self-isolation period following a mass COVID infection amongst their squad and staff. It still remains to be seen, as to when their missed fixtures will be played. However, they will resume with their next closest fixture, against Olimpik. Dnipro-1 sit 7 points clear despite missing last week’s game week due to Karpaty’s issues.

Olimpik surprised once more as they beat the solid Lviv defence 2-0 to leapfrog their opponents and move further away from relegation. Vorskla’s trip to the Azov coast ended in a score draw stalemate with Mariupol – which the most predictable result of the weekend.


Championship Group = (CG) | Relegation Group = (RG)


Mariupol v Lviv (15:00 BST / 17:00KYIV) (RG)

This game is another dead rubber in the current circumstances of the Relegation Group. However, these final remaining games may all change meaning once Karpaty play their games in hand. Even still they would need to win a large share of those to trouble any of the sides above them including Lviv.

Lviv have not had the best of returns since the lockdown period was lifted. Their loss to Olimpik saw them drop below their rivals and it looks rather difficult to see any late charge for seventh place. However, as the season ticks down, Lviv will need to pick up the odd point if it is just to keep Karpaty out of reach of safety.

Mariupol have equally been underwhelming but consistent. Their two draws so far and the teams below them being the opposite of the this has helped them remain in eighth but still considerably off the mark compared to Dnipro-1 at the top of the mini table.

This is the lowest in quality side that Mariupol has had in many seasons and it’s difficult to see too much changing as 19/20 comes to an end. The early game of the round looks to favour a narrow home win after Lviv’s recent defeat to the equally woeful Olimpik. 1-0

Vorskla Poltava v Dnipro-1 (17:00 BST / 19:00 KYIV) (RG)

Vorskla have been another consistent side. Having drawn both their games 1-1 since the restart it looks like they too are drifting towards the end of the season, awaiting to start afresh next year.

They’ve certainly improved since the start of the season, with Kane and Yakubu finally coming into their own and Alioune’s arrival and integration in the team boosting their defensive exploits. The issue that Vorskla still lack is in attack; they just don’t create enough and when they on the rare occasion do – they squander their chances with inaccurate finishing.

Dnipro-1 arrive in Poltava full of confidence. They’re on a four win streak stretching back to March and are in prime position to finish in seventh, with room for some dropped points along the way. Their squad is the most in depth of all those in the bottom half of the table and they have goals readily available to be provided across the pitch.

Following their one week break to a postponed game with Karpaty it will be interesting to see if this ruins their rhythm. Vorskla possess a better defensive set up than most of their other opponents, so Dnipro-1’s usually fruitful attack will be put to the test. Even still, they should have enough to edge this one and remain comfortably at the top of the Relegation Group . 0-1


Shakhtar Donetsk v Oleksandriya (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

Shakhtar are almost there. Their thirteenth UPL title will be theirs should they pick up any kind of win or if they and Dynamo lose this weekend. An unassailable lead will be accumulated via either of those methods and Shakhtar’s dominance on domestic Ukrainian football will be confirmed once more.

They have been far from their peak form since the season resumed but their abundance of quality has proved that only a couple of chances per game are all that’s needed to get the better of their Championship Group opponents.

It will be interesting to see whether Castro rests a few more players or whether he will reward his first choice XI to get the result that secures them the silverware in his first season in charge.

Oleksandriya have not had the best of fortnights. They’ve lost their last two games by an aggregate score-line of 10-2. By doing so, in the circumstances where you are playing your direct rivals week in, week out, they’ve seemingly ruled themselves out of a medal place push. They now sit six points behind Zorya and Desna who have been far more unswerving in their performances this season.

As is usually the case, Oleksandriya will be hoping to avoid a third successive league defeat at the hands of Shakhtar – albeit that seems highly unlikely especially with the incentive that Shakhtar possesses. Anything below conceding 5 goals will be a result for them. Shakhtar will be Champions at the end of the weekend – it’s difficult to see otherwise. 3-0


Karpaty Lviv v Olimpik Donetsk (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (RG)

Karpaty are OUT of quarantine and self-isolation. Two and a half weeks after the first cases were being confirmed – a majority of the squad and coaching staff returned to training this week. However, eight first team players remain away from camp as they remained positive.

A number of Karpaty’s youth squad will also make up the side this weekend as they resume their 19/20 season a month after everyone else. Karpaty sit rock bottom of the table and are odds on for relegation. Eight points adrift with three supposed games in hand looks possible on paper. However, in reality, performances from earlier this season seem to suggest otherwise.

Meanwhile, Olimpik have undertaken a sort of mini resurgence in form, beating Lviv and drawing with Mariupol; whilst simultaneously scoring some goals in the process. Roman Sanzhar’s old side will be the favoured team just on the basis that they have been in action since the end of May.

Teixera is in good form at the moment and will be the danger for Karpaty’s defence that will most certainly be lacking match fitness. This will be compounded by the fact that Karpaty have lost a number of their better players in Tim Hall and Marvin Martins during the lockdown period – choosing to end their time at the club prematurely. This game won’t be a memorable one. Olimpik should just shave it. 0-1

Desna Chernihiv v Zorya Luhansk (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

A different narrative is written each week in the chase for medals. The Game of the Week this time round sees a battle for third; just a week after Zorya were looking like the favourites for silver. However, scenarios change thick and fast when it’s this tight in the table.

Desna go into this tie with confidence, bar a close defeat to Shakhtar in MD 25, they’ve comfortably dismantled the opponents below them in the table (In the first leg of fixtures against them at least). Their leading forward restored his goalscoring form with a brace, helping to brush aside Oleksandriya with ease. The Zorya result combined with their own win gives them another chance at the bronze medal places. 

Zorya have been dealt with a difficult hand of late. Their two defeats out of three games and a less than convincing 1-0 win over Kolos has erased their quiet confidence and put them right back into the dog fight – now battling for a medal altogether when it looked like either bronze or silver would be theirs.

The biggest factor in Zorya’s decline has been the form of Bohdan Lednev – his lack of influence in defeat to Oleksandriya and in the narrow victory over Kolos was marked. His creative absence was also felt v Dynamo as he was suspended. Combined with this, the loss of Rusyn back to Dynamo has also been haunting this side for all of 2020. Kabaev has stepped up with a few goals but he’s unable to carry the full burden of that responsibility on his shoulders.

This fixture is difficult to call. Based on form you would back Desna but Zorya and Skripnyk do have the ability to match Desna – it’s just whether their mental strength will be able to recover from recent capitulations. This one is going to be tight. 0-0


Dynamo Kyiv v Kolos Kovalivka  (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

Following their Ukrainian Cup Semi Final win over Minaj; the UPL decided that they would give Dynamo some extended rest – similarly as to how they have Vorskla and Mariupol playing on Friday for the extra day of preparation ahead of their own semi-final. Dynamo eased theirs.

Mikkel Duelund who scored two well worked and finished goals will be hoping that he is rewarded with another start in this tie. However, with the return of Tsyhankov it’s difficult to see an XI where all of Tsyhankov, Verbic, Duelund, Tsitaishvili and Buyalskyi all start under the auspices of the less than dynamic Mykhaylychenko.

Nevertheless, this game should be routine for Dynamo especially after they defeated Zorya last week – a rare occasion where the manager’s substitutions were timed to perfection and those players ended up making the difference.

Kolos come into this tie rock bottom of the Championship Group – and it’s little surprise that they almost mathematically can’t finish any higher. They attempted to delay Shakhtar’s title confirmation last weekend but narrowly lost to The Miners once again this season.

They are just sitting tightly now, awaiting the UEL Q spot Play Offs, that they are guaranteed a place in. They may end up being the joker in the pack at some point in the medal run in – taking points off of one of the contenders but it’s difficult to see them doing so versus Dynamo following their opponents recent results. Dynamo win likely. 3-0

UPL BOYZ: Battle for 2nd Place – UPL MD 26

Seven games to go! The UPL ticks down towards the end of the season with Matchday 26 and the fight for the automatic European spots finely poised!

Over the past week there, the fate of Ukraine’s other professional leagues’ 19/20 seasons were also decide. Ukraine’s second tier – The Persha Liha will resume on 24th June 2020. After a PFL meeting featuring representatives of all 16 clubs – the majority decision backed by eleven of those sides was to complete the season on sporting terms. This was then confirmed and permitted by the UAF.

Nyva Ternopil confirm promotion!

Meanwhile in the Druha Liha – things have ended as they stand after each side had already completed each other twice. This was as a result of majority decision by the clubs in the division and means that the top two clubs in Group A & B have been promoted. Nyva Ternopil, Polissya, VPK Agro and Krystal Kherson will all take part in the expanded 20 team Persha Liha during 20/21 season.

Krystal Mark their own promotion via IG

In Ukraine National Team news, Andriy Shevchenko and his coaching staff penned a new 2.5 year contract extension which will take them through until the 2022 Winter World Cup in Qatar. The manager was in attendance as Shakhtar beat Desna 3-2.

Back in the UPL and Matchday 25 saw the majority of matches play out with few surprises – largely backing the status quo.

In the Relegation Group – Dnipro-1 extended their lead in seventh to 8 points after a comeback victory versus Lviv, who played out the game as hosts but in the Dnipro Arena. Khoblenko’s goal off the bench was enough to edge it 2-1 after China’s opener and Tsurikov’s equalizer. 

Mariupol, who sit closest to Dnipro-1 in the table, eight points behind with a game in hand; returned to action after their first game with Karpaty was postponed. Instead they ended their lockdown with a rather underwhelming 2-2 draw with Olimpik in Kyiv.

Whilst Karpaty and Vorskla sat this game week out; with the Lviv side being in its first week of mandatory self-isolation following a huge breakout of COVID-19 just before Matchday 24.

In the Championship Group, things temporarily went back to normal. Shakhtar defeated Desna in a thrilling 3-2 finish at the Olympiyskyi – moving ever closer to their title! Meanwhile, Zorya narrowly overcame Kolos 1-0 and Dynamo dismantled Oleksandriya 5-1 to ensure the two clubs go into their own showdown neck and neck!


Championship Group = (CG) | Relegation Group = (RG)


Mariupol v Vorskla Poltava (12:00 BST / 14:00 KYIV) (RG)

Six years to the day since Ukrainian soldiers liberated Mariupol from Russian aggressors – Mariupol host Vorskla in the UPL in their own city within Donbas. Whilst it may be a day of celebration off of the pitch, this game is practically a dead rubber on it. Both sides have fairly limited chances of overtaking Dnipro-1 in top spot in the Relegation Group whilst neither are at risk from the drop either. Following Mariupol’s surprising draw with Olimpik last time out, which many could attribute to their first bit of competitive in months, it’s going to be a difficult game against a revigorated Vorskla.

Poltava did miss out on last week’s round due to their opponents Karpaty being unable to play – but nonetheless, Maksymov’s side look much improved from when he first took over. Their defensive framework looks properly structured and their attacks look a lot more coherent than in recent seasons – although they still do lack a killer game changing forward which is why they remain with the league’s least goals. It wouldn’t be too surprising were either side to win this one by a narrow margin, but equally with the lack of defensive structure in Mariupol’s team paired with Vorskla’s minimal chance conversion; a low score draw sounds the most plausible . 1-1

Karpaty Lviv v Dnipro-1 (POSTPONED)(RG)

Karpaty enter the end of their second week of mandatory self-isolation following 26 positive Covid tests. This means that their scheduled game versus Dnipro-1 will not take place. Following further testing at the start of next week; it will be decided whether Karpaty are able to return to action in Matchday 27 – however the fate of their missed games still remains undecided. P-P

Zorya Luhansk v Dynamo Kyiv (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (CG)

The GAME OF THE WEEK comes nice and early in Matchday 26. There’s a lot resting on this one, with both sides looking to make a concerted break from their rivals on the road to silver!

Hosts Zorya Luhansk were in the news this week with rumours circulating that should the club not make the Europa League Group Stage next year, there is heighted possibility that the team may fold. Other conflicting reports have dismissed this ultimatum, claiming that Zorya is in a much more stable trajectory and European qualification is not a matter of life or death. Nevertheless, Zorya enter the final few games of the season as a heavy favourite in finishing within a medal berth with a potentially guaranteed Europa League group stage berth depending on how the Cup pans out.

On loan Dynamo Kyiv man and Zorya’s POTS so far, Bohdan Lednev will sit out of this one due to picking up his fifth yellow of the season, in what will be a creative blow for Luhansk. Other Dynamo loanee, Oleksandr Tymchyk is expected to play, having done so in the previous fixtures against his parent club this season. Zorya have already beaten Dynamo once this season and they’ll be looking to do so once more in Zaporizhya.

Meanwhile Dynamo enter this game with more positive news. Viktor Tsyhankov returns to the first team squad following an injury he picked up in the early stages of post lockdown training. However, he would not be expected to start – regardless of how important this game is for his side – with Tsitaishvili seriously impressing after stepping into the red haired winger’s place and the fact that Tsyhankov has had no first team practice since early March.

Oleksandriya were battered by this side, but this result should not cast illusions that all is well at Dynamo. Problems in transition from defence to attack and primarily a very flat midfield are still eminent problems which Mykhaylychenko seems to be incapable of addressing. As such, it would not be surprising to see the visitors succumb to their opponents due to their own lack of vision and direction.

However as has been the case this season, it’s very difficult to separate these two sides and this will once again be the case on Saturday. Zorya have shown they can defeat Dynamo once already this season so they might be able to do it again. 1-0

Olimpik Donetsk v Lviv (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (RG)

Olimpik sprung a bit of a shock last week as they took two leads against Mariupol, only to end up drawing 2-2. Lviv on the other hand were unlucky to leave Dnipro without at least a point after another disciplined defensive display. This game has all the hallmarks of ‘not a classic.’

The four most recent meetings in the league have seen two score draws and then a 1-0 win to each side – both of which took place in the league this season before the split. As such, this won’t be a game of many chances and of even less quality. With not too much to fight for either, a goalless draw looks to rather favourable on the face of things. 0-0


Kolos Kovalivka v Shakhtar Donetsk (15:00 BST / 17:00 KYIV) (CG)

As if it wasn’t clear already, Shakhtar have been Champions Elect for a while now. Should Dynamo and Zorya play out a draw, Shakhtar would require a win to all but mathematically lift the trophy with 6 games to go. Such has been their season, that they have lost a couple games and they still are head and shoulders above the rest. Some of their other performances have resulted in close shaves such as last week’s game versus Desna and the final before the split match versus Kolos which ended 4-3.

Shakhtar have proven that they don’t need to be at their constant best for the full 90 minutes, especially since the return from lockdown; they just need 3 or 4 chances a game and they’ll take every single one. Marcos Antonio sits this one out after accumulating too many yellows – whilst more changes can be expected for The Miners matchup versus the weakest team in the top six.

Kolos are drifting by now, having lost 1-0 to Zorya last time out, they’re just waiting for the end of the season, when they will get a shot at a Europa League spot in the play offs. With the lower intensity and lack of crowd, it’s difficult to see Kolos come anywhere close to their 3 goal tally versus Shakhtar last time out when their own top six fate was in the balance. As such it’s likely to be a routine victory for the visitors as they look move to within a point of the title . 0-4

Oleksandriya v Desna Chernihiv  (17:30 BST / 19:30 KYIV) (CG)

The extended automatic European spot showdown takes place at the Nika this weekend. Both sides were given setbacks in their own pushes for medals thanks to defeats at the hands of Dynamo and Shakhtar respectively. A win for either side could push them back into it.

Desna will be more favoured to play out a consistent finish to the season, following their performances so far. Their narrow defeat versus Shakhtar showed that they’re able to go toe to toe if required – but as is the same case with the rest of the league, Shakhtar’s resources are just too difficult to overcome.

Captain Denys Favorov has been in inspired form since the return from lockdown and he will look to lead his side to another victory against close behind rivals Oleksandriya. Oleksandr Filippov is yet to add to his handsome goal tally since the quarantine lift but will be aiming to break that duct in this one.

Oleksandriya, on the other hand, will be brushing themselves down after being humiliated against Dynamo last week. They are without their key centre back, Kaspars Dubra due to the red card he picked up in that game which led to the eventual capitulation.

However, the goalscoring has also seemed to be impacted since Oleksandriya returned from quarantine. Hrechyshkyn is their most likely goalscorer at the moment, only due to the fact that he takes their penalties. Converting chances need to be improved should Oleksandriya hope to emulate or even equal their historic bronze medal last year. This does look unrealistic looking at the opposition above them.

This game against Desna will prove to be the decider in who will be in a more favourable position in challenging Dynamo. At this current moment and looking back on the season’s performances so far, you would expect that to be Desna. Hence an away win should be on the cards. 1-2