The last time we played Dynamo Kyiv, it was 2004-2005 and Villarreal progressed 2-0 on aggregate in the UEFA Cup. It’s been a LONG time since then and an incredible number of things have changed for both clubs. As we head into this matchup, Unai Emery has cashed most of his credibility chips with the fanbase and absolutely must advance. Hopefully, a win here on the European stage can be a boost to our confidence that gets our league form turned around..
Dynamo have never actually beaten a Spanish side in Europe despite playing 16 such matches, but their manager is a Ukrainian football legend who has won this competition before. In his only matchup between Lucescu and Emery, Emery’s Sevilla advanced 5-3 on aggregate. Since the start of last season, every single goal Kyiv has scored in European competition has had either Vitaliy Buyalskiy or Viktor Tsygankov as scorer or assist provider.
Unai Emery has progressed in 25 of the 28 knockout rounds (including finals) that he’s seen as a manager in the Europa League, I expect a full strength XI for this one. As bad as we need wins in the league there is no question which competition our manager is prioritizing. At this point, doing so feels like a gamble but that’s exactly what Sr. Roig brought Emery in to do, chase trophies.
This match will be played in the 70,000 seat Olimpiiskyi stadium, which I’m sure will be absolutely cavernous without fans, but even in a normal year Dynamo only averages about 12,000 people in the place so it’s not what I would call a fortress. It’s always hard to travel in Europe but there can be no excuses here. Villarreal should win.