Ukrainian test awaiting Olympiacos in Last 32
After progressing from Group F in the UEFA Europa League, Olympiacos have been handed a fascinating draw in the Last 32, with the Greeks paired against Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv.
So far, Olympiacos have impressed in the Europa League, seeing off the challenge of FC Luzern and Burnley in the qualifying rounds before claiming second place in Group F which also contained Real Betis, AC Milan and Dudelange. In the sixth group match, the Thrylos had to beat Milan by two clear goals, and they duly obliged with a pulsating 3:1 victory in Piraeus. As a result of finishing second in Group F, Olympiacos were unseeded for Monday’s Last 32 draw and could have been pitted against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Napoli, Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen and Sevilla, but instead they were paired up with Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine.
Olympiacos will host the first leg against Dynamo Kyiv on February 14, 2019 at the Karaiskakis Stadium. The return will be played in the Ukrainian capital on February 21.
It’s worth noting that Dynamo Kyiv will not play another competitive fixture until the duel against Olympiacos with the Ukrainian Premier League in its winter break.
The Ukrainians are familiar foes for Greek football fans. Last season, AEK faced Dynamo Kyiv in the same stage of the UEFA Europa League, as the Athenians lost out on the away goals rule after a 1:1 draw in Greece and a 0:0 tie in Ukraine. For the majority of proceedings, AEK appeared the stronger team, however their profligacy in front of goal allowed Dynamo to triumph. Dynamo then lost to Lazio 2:4 on aggregate in the Last 16.
Dynamo began the current 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. The Kyiv outfit 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. Gifted 21-year old midfielder Viktor Tsygankov is regarded as a huge prospect for the future and he will be the player to watch in this tie. Young midfielder Mykola Shaparenko is also a real talent.
Tsygankov, Denys Garmash and Benjamin Verbic all scored two goals each in the Europa League group phase.
In their long and coveted history, Dynamo have won 13 Soviet Top League championships, 15 Ukrainian Premier League titles, nine Soviet Cups, 11 Ukrainian Cups, two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups and the 1975 UEFA Super Cup.