Well, there were easier draws we could have gotten (namely the one Granada got), but one of the two best teams in the Ukraine it is. The UEFA Coefficient rankings by country, which rank leagues by their performance in Europe, have Ukraine as the 12th toughest league in the world and Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk really carry that ranking. For some context, that puts them right between Turkey and Scotland. In the previous round, Dynamo squeezed past Club Brugge 2-1.
For the second round in a row, we draw someone who dropped into this competition from the Champions League. Dynamo was in a group with Juventus and Barcelona, and finished third with only four points, all gained against group anchor Ferencvaros. The last time we faced Dynamo Kyiv was in 2004-2005 in the Round of 32 of the UEFA Cup. We won on aggregate 2-0.
Their leading scorer is Viktor Tsyhankov, who has 11 goals in all competitions (four penalties), and also leads them in assists with 4. He’s a 23 year old right winger and he’s a legitimate talent. Our left flank will have to be ready for him.
Dynamo is managed by Mircea Lucescu, who is probably best known for the 22 trophies he won with Shakhtar, most notably the UEFA Cup in 2009 in the final year before it became the Europa League. I distinctly remember that final because I was in Istanbul when it happened, but I couldn’t find a ticket so I ended up watching on Turkish TV.
In the next couple weeks I’ll try to dig up some film on this team to see how they play, and I’ll let you know more later. In the meantime, here’s the rest of the Europa League Draw.
Outside of our own draw, the two headlines for this round, to me, are Zlatan and Milan vs Manchester United and Shakhtar vs Roma. A lot will rely on the draw but going forward from this point we really ought to be one of the three or four favorites for this trophy.