Crunch time in Kyiv
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - ROUND OF 32 (2nd LEG)
|Dynamo Kyiv||22:00 (GR)||Olympiacos|
Olympiacos take on Dynamo Kyiv in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, with the Piraeus organisation needing a special night in order to advance. AGONAsport previews the battle.
The Thrylos were so close to gaining an advantage in the first leg. Up 2:1 in the closing moments, it seemed Olympiacos would take a slender lead to Kyiv, but Benjamin Verbic bagged an equaliser for Dynamo to put the Ukrainians in the box seat. At the Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Olympiacos need to win or secure a draw by scoring at least three goals (i.e. 3:3, 4:4) to qualify for the Last 16, while a 0:0 or 1:1 tie would see Dynamo Kyiv advance on the away goals rule. 2:2 would result in extra time.
Olympiacos were strong in the first half last week. After Ahmed Hassan had fired the Greeks into an early lead, Vitaly Bulyalskyy initially equalised for Dynamo Kyiv, but Gil Dias thumped a superb effort beyond the sprawling Denys Boyko to make it 2:1 in Olympiacos’ favour. However, Olympiacos took a rather cautious approach in the remaining 45 minutes, and it resulted in Dynamo Kyiv punishing them with a dramatic late blow.
A trip to Kyiv is never easy. Although this is not necessarily a great Dynamo Kyiv side, the Ukrainians boast true European pedigree, and they possess the required knowhow for such tense, tight continental fixtures. In his press-conference, head coach Alyaksandr Khatskevich revealed that he wants his players to attack more aggressively in Ukraine in comparison to the first leg, also stating that playing for a draw would be extremely risky. Gifted midfielders Viktor Tsygankov and Mykola Shaparenko are two of the biggest talents in Ukrainian football.
Due to the Ukrainian Premier League still hibernating, Dynamo Kyiv rested over the weekend, but Olympiacos had to negotiate a crucial Super League derby. Hosting AEK at the Karaiskakis Stadium, Olympiacos pulled off a stunning comeback after falling 0:1 down, as Mohamed Camara, Konstantinos Fortounis (2) and Ahmed Hassan sealed a pulsating 4:1 victory to all but secure UEFA Champions League football for the 2019/2020 season. Olympiacos boast an eight-point advantage over AEK in second place of the Super League standings.
In the past, Olympiacos have played on Ukrainian soil on six occasions, tallying two wins, one draw and three defeats. Their most recent encounter in Ukraine was a 0:2 defeat to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Last 32 of the 2014/2015 UEFA Europa League.
Last year, Dynamo Kyiv beat AEK on away goals at the same stage of the Europa League, before losing 2:4 on aggregate to Lazio in the Round of 16. Interestingly, Jesus Gil Manzano, the referee for that 0:2 second leg defeat against Lazio, was the man in the middle for Olympiacos’ recent 1:3 setback against PAOK in the Super League.
TEAM NEWS: DYNAMO KYIV
When speaking to the media, boss Khatskevich gave the news that Hungarian centre-back Tamas Kadar will miss this match, meaning the central defensive pairing of Artyom Shabanov and Mykyta Burda will stay intact. Brazilian midfielder Vitor Bueno, who missed the first leg in Piraeus, was pictured training with the first team on Thursday and is in contention for a place in the line-up.
Possible line-up: Boyko, Kedziora, Burda, Shabanov, Mykolenko, Shaparenlo, Shepelyev, Bulyalskyy, Tsygankov, Verbic, Sol.
TEAM NEWS: OLYMPIACOS
Olympiacos have four major absentees for this game. Defenders Jagos Vukovic and Omar Elabdellaoui are injured, defensive midfielder Mohamed Camara is suspended, and winger Lazaros Christodoulopoulos will miss the remainder of the season after receiving a horrible knee injury against AEK. In recent matches, Yassine Meriah has been playing in the position of right-back, but he could return to the centre of defence given Vukovic’s absence.
Possible line-up: Sa, Torosidis, Cisse, Meriah, Koutris, Guilherme, Natcho, Fortounis, Podence, Dias, Hassan.
REFEREE: IVAN KRUŽLIAK (SVK)
34 years of age, Slovakian referee Kruzliak has been in charge of five European club matches this season, refereeing the Atletico Madrid - Club Brugge (3:1), Tottenham - PSV (2:1), Hoffenheim - Shakhtar Donetsk (2:3) and Ajax - Standard Liege (3:0) games in the Champions League, and the Partizan - Besiktas (1:1) fixture in the Europa League.
He also oversaw proceedings in the Wales - Denmark (1:2) and Romania - Montenegro (0:0) UEFA Nations League matches.
Referee: Ivan Kružliak (SVK)
Assistant referees: Tomas Somolani (SVK), Branislav Hancko (SVK)
Additional assistant referees: Peter Kralovic (SVK), Filip Glova (SVK)
Fourth official: Jan Pozor (SVK)