Who is Dynamo Kyiv: profiling AEK’s Europa League opponents
On Monday, Super League leaders AEK Athens learned their opponents for the Europa League round of 32. The Greeks will do battle against Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv, a club with huge European history. AGONAsport’s Shaun Nicolaides takes a look at what AEK can expect in February.
Monday’s Europa League round of 32 draw saw AEK pitted against Dynamo Kyiv. While the Athenian club will be happy about avoiding teams such as Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Zenit Saint Petersburg, they certainly can’t be over-confident against a strong Dynamo team. Founded in 1927, Dynamo Kyiv are one of the two dominant clubs in Ukraine, regularly sharing the Ukrainian title with Shakhtar Donetsk. They won the Ukrainian Premier League back-to-back in 2015 and 2016, and although they lost out to Shakhtar last season, they are currently only three points behind the Donetsk club with one game in hand.
Dynamo Kyiv have enjoyed success on the European stage, reaching the 1998/1999 Champions League semi-finals. Never since has an Eastern European club made that stage of the continent’s biggest competition. In 1975 and 1986 Dynamo took the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, winning the UEFA Super Cup in 1975. Overall, they have won the Ukrainian league on 15 occasions, while previously becoming champions of the Soviet championship 13 times.
At the moment, winning the domestic championship and returning to the Champions League is Dynamo’s main goal. However, they have treated the Europa League seriously so far, and you can be sure that they will field full-strength teams for the two matches against AEK.
Full name: Football Club Dynamo Kyiv
Founded: May 13, 1927
President: Ihor Surkis
Stadium: NSC Olimpiyskiy (Capacity 70,050)
Titles won: 13 Soviet Championships, 15 Ukrainian Championships, 2 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 11 Ukrainian Cups, 9 Soviet Cups
Head coach: Alyaksandr Khatskevich
Following the legendary Serhiy Rebrov’s departure, former Belarusian national team head coach Alyaksandr Khatskevich took over the Dynamo reigns. His tenure didn’t start off too well as Dynamo Kyiv lost to Young Boys in the Champions League qualifiers, but he recovered to help the club qualify for the Europa League group stages. The 44 year old Khatsevich spent the majority of his playing career in his native Belarus and Ukraine, scoring 26 goals in 135 appearances for Dynamo Kyiv. As a Dynamo player, Khatsevich won seven Ukrainian Premier League titles. In 2006, he switched his attentions to coaching. Khatsevich managed Belarus’ national side between December 2014 and December 2016.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
30 year old Junior Moraes is the Europa League’s joint top scorer with six goals, including an impressive hat trick in the final group game against Partizan Belgrade. Aging forward Dieumerci Mbokani is Dynamo’s leading front man in the Ukrainian Premier League, boasting eight markers.
Captain Mykola Morozyuk causes opponents problems with his runs from deep on the right flank, chipping in with the odd goal here and there. Young midfielder Viktor Tsygankov is a real prospect for the Ukrainians, mostly holding down a starting spot and having already made two appearances for the national team.
SEASON RECAP SO FAR
Dynamo Kyiv were dealt a huge disappointment in the summer, losing to Young Boys in the Champions League qualifiers in dramatic fashion. They got their revenge in the Europa League though, beating Young Boys, Partizan and Skenderbeu to top Group B with just one defeat along the way.
After 18 games in the Ukrainian Premier League, Dynamo occupy second place with 39 points, three behind Shakhtar Donetsk. Nevertheless, they do hold one game in hand over their main rivals.
To AEK’s advantage, Dynamo won’t play a game until the Europa League playoffs in February because of the Ukrainian winter break. The lack of match practice could take its toll.
PRIOR HISTORY VERSUS GREEK CLUBS
AEK have never competed against Dynamo Kyiv, but the Ukrainians have played Greek teams in the past. In the 1975/1976 season, Dynamo clinched a 3:2 aggregate victory against Olympiacos in the Champions League first round, however Olympiacos’ match took place in Thessaloniki because of a stadium ban.
Two years later, Dynamo saw off PAOK’s challenge in the same competition with 4:0 and 2:0 victories.
In 1995, Dynamo Kyiv faced Panathinaikos in the Champions League, but they were then excluded from the tournament. In the 1998/1999 campaign, the two clubs traded 2:1 home victories in the competition.