AGONA Profile: Dynamo Kyiv, the transitional Ukrainian giants
On Monday afternoon, Olympiacos were draw against Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv in the Last 32 of the 2018/2019 UEFA Europa League. AGONAsport analyses the Thrylos’ next European opponents.
While Olympiacos will be relieved to avoid big names such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Sevilla, Bayer Leverkusen, Internazionale, Napoli and Benfica, they certainly can’t be over-confident against a youthful 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 are currently trailing Shakhtar by seven points this season, the Kyiv outfit are always tricky opponents to negotiate, especially when playing at home.
Dynamo Kyiv have enjoyed success on the European stage, reaching the 1998/1999 UEFA 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, and they claimed 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.
Nevertheless, at this moment in time, Dynamo are going through somewhat of a transitional phase. In fact, they only have eight foreigners on their roster, with controversial club president Ihor Surkis opting to base the team around promising, gifted Ukrainians. A severe lack of stability has resulted in Dynamo losing their way, and with results on the pitch not matching up to fans’ expectations, the management has received plenty of criticism. These two matches against Olympiacos will give Dynamo a chance to prove that they can still be competitive at the highest level.
Dynamo have reason to be confident. In the 2017/2018 season, Dynamo met AEK Athens in the same phase of the UEFA Europa League, emerging victorious on the away goals rule after a 1:1 draw in Athens and a 0:0 tie in Kyiv. In Ukraine, AEK had a number of glorious chances to defeat a resilient Dynamo team, but the Ukrainians held on thanks to superb goalkeeping from Denys Boyko and poor finishing. In the Last 16, Dynamo were knocked out by Lazio 2:4 on aggregate.
Full name: Футбольний клуб «Динамо» Київ (Football Club Dynamo Kyiv)
Founded: May 13, 1927
President: Ihor Surkis
Head coach: Alyaksandr Khatskevich
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
Former Belarusian national team head coach Alyaksandr Khatskevich took over the Dynamo reins June 2017. Given Dynamo’s somewhat disappointing performances in his tenure, supporters of the club have often called for the 44-year old to be sacked, however Surkis and the board have full faith in their man and he’s still in his post.
Khatskevich 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, Khatskevich won seven Ukrainian Premier League titles. In 2006, he switched his attentions to coaching, and Khatskevich managed Belarus’ national side between December 2014 and December 2016.
Without doubt, Dynamo’s star man is young midfielder Viktor Tsygankov. He may only be 21 years of age, but Tsygankov has rapidly transformed into the best player in this Dynamo team, standing out with his excellent technical ability and his handy knack of popping up with crucial goals. In the Europa League group stage, Tsygankov was Dynamo’s joint top scorer, tallying two markers in six matches. Tsygankov’s leadership qualities have seen him wear the captain’s armband at Dynamo and he’s already played in four matches with the senior Ukrainian national side.
Fellow midfielder Mykola Shaparenko is one to watch for the future. Unlike Tsygankov, the 20-year old isn’t always guaranteed a place in the starting line-up, but he’s highly thought of among Ukrainian football experts. This year, Shaparenko was called up to the main Ukrainian national team by head coach Andrei Shevchenko, and he has now played in two games for his country. In the current season, Shaparenko has recovered from a slow start to make a brilliant impression, registering six goals and two assists in 17 matches in all competitions.
Experienced goalkeeper Denys Boyko is practically unbeatable when on top form, but on another day, he can commit horrible errors. The two games against AEK in February displayed that perfectly. In Athens, he was at fault for Astrit Ajdarevic’s equaliser, however he atoned for that mistake with some brilliant saves in the return leg in Ukraine. He will need to be at his best to keep Olympiacos at bay.
2018/2019 SEASON SO FAR
Initially, Dynamo began the season in the UEFA Champions League, but after defeating Slavia Prague 3:1 in the third qualifying round, they lost 1:3 to Ajax in the playoffs to drop into the Europa League. Dynamo were strong in Group K against Rennes, Astana and Jablonec, earning first place with 11 points.
Domestically, Dynamo are struggling to keep pace with runaway leaders Shakhtar Donetsk, sitting in second place with seven points separating the top two. Dynamo have picked up 38 points in 18 Ukrainian Premier League matches, winning 12, drawing two and losing four.
PREVIOUS HISTORY AGAINST GREEK CLUBS
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.
Dynamo managed to sneak past AEK in the Last 32 of the 2017/2018 UEFA Europa League on away goals. At the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Viktor Tsygankov scored the decisive goal in a 1:1 draw, and the Ukrainian club frustrated AEK in a 0:0 tie in Kyiv and progressed to the Last 16.