DYNAMO KIEV vs. AZ ALKMAAR
Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex | Tuesday 15th September | 18:00 GMT
Dynamo Kyiv are currently experiencing their longest drought without Champions League football since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 writes Zorya Londonsk’s Andrew Todos.
The last time they made the Group Stages was the 15/16 season. Ever since, hopes have been dashed in the Qualifying rounds – resulting in Europa League campaigns as the fallbacks instead. This failure to qualify for the UCL Group Stages has coincided with the club’s recent decline. Whilst they’ve still been able to finish second domestically in all these years, the gap between themselves and Champions Shakhtar has grown exponentially due to poor managerial appointments and player recruitment.
This led the owner to appoint former Shakhtar manager and one of the most decorated managers of all time – Mircea Lucescu to steer the ship at the old age of seventy five!
The club’s Ultras have reacted with great animosity to the decision due to a long history of Lucescu being controversial in regards to their club and even to Ukraine as a whole.
The 20/21 UPL kicked off ahead of the recent international break. Dynamo got off to a winning start under Lucescu – convincingly hammering lowly Olimpik Donetsk on the opening day 4-1.
Following this, Lucescu and his new side faced his old club in the Ukrainian Super Cup. Dynamo defeated Shakhtar 3-1 and picked up the first ‘trophy’ of the season.
Ahead of the UCL 3rd Qualifying round, Dynamo faced fellow medal place challengers Desna. Their opponents ran them close in the league last season and shut Dynamo out by parking the bus, despite the Kyiv side’s relentless attacking efforts. The game ended 0-0.
Formation and Tactics
It’s still quite difficult to work out exactly how Mircea Lucescu wants his new side to play. Dynamo were very secretive in their short pre season – providing no ‘live’ coverage of any of their friendlies. With the few competitive games we have seen thus far – it looks like Dynamo are aiming to play a possession based style with the steady introduction of a high press.
However, the club is currently in the midst of an injury crisis – which has likely prevented Lucescu in showcasing exactly the type of philosophy he wants to move forward with.
Dynamo have serious defensive issues. First choice right back – Oleksandr Tymchyk was subbed off inside 35 minutes v Desna with a groin injury. He will be out for a while. Similarly, centre backs Mykyta Burda and Denys Popov are also unavailable for a prolonged amount of time.
This has forced Lucescu to play Tomasz Kedziora, a natural full back in the heart of his defence alongside usual left back Vitaly Mykolenko in the most recent league match.
Artem Shabanov, who is a centre back by trade may return to the starting XI for the AZ tie, following rehabilitation from his own injury.
Predicted Line up (4-3-3)
(LW) De Pena
Players to Watch
Dynamo’s key man. The winger has become the side’s leading light in recent seasons, stepping into the large hole left by Andriy Yarmolenko’s departure. Tsyhankov is Dynamo’s primary outlet for creativity and goals despite him playing out wide on the right. He’s pacey and possesses a very decent vision and delivery. Due to the inverted nature of his position, the left footed player is able to cut inside – however he is far less reliant on this compared to his predecessor – Yarmolenko. He will be the channel through which most dangerous attacks go through and if not – he will be trying to be on the end of them to finish the chances off.
The Luxembourg international is another dangerous winger that Lucescu has under his disposal. He is unlikely to start but should he come off the bench – he will be sure to bolster the attack as he has done in Dynamo’s matches prior to the international break. The forward, who had fallen out of favour with the previous manager and was sent on loan last season as a result, is having a revival under the current one. He scored a magnificent lobbed winner in the Super Cup and had an influential 45 minute cameo in the 4-1 Olimpik match. He will be able to provide that creative spark should it be needed in the later stages of the game.