Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dynamo Kiev v Maccabi Tel Aviv: Hosts seek to end 16-year wait

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 7 Dec 2015

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Dynamo Kiev will secure their passage into the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in 16 years with a victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian side must win at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex to guarantee second place in Group G. All three points, coupled with a draw in the match between Chelsea and Porto, will see them progress as group winners. 

Dynamo sit third on eight points, two points behind the Portuguese and English clubs, who occupy first and second respectively.

Serhiy Rebrov’s men are on a five-match winning streak in all competitions after thrashing bottom side Metalist Zaporizhya 6-0 in the Ukrainian Premier League on Friday.

They have conceded just once during that run and are top of the table, ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk on goal difference, going into their mid-season break.

Dynamo were semi-finalists in 1998-99 and reached the defunct second group stage the following season, but have not progressed beyond the group stages in the competition’s current format and their past form at this point of the tournament will be the only cause for concern coming into this must-win encounter.

They have only tasted success in three of their last 17 games at home, drawing both encounters this season – 2-2 with Porto and 0-0 with Chelsea.

Nevertheless, Dynamo have kept clean sheets in 18 of their 25 matches so far this season and will fancy their chances against a Maccabi side that have scored just once in this season’s Champions League.

The Israeli club’s solitary strike came courtesy of the in-form Eran Zahavi in the 3-1 home defeat to Porto on matchday Four.

The Israel international carries his side’s greatest threat, as they look to secure their first ever point in the group stage of this competition, having scored 10 goals in his last 13 games for club and country.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s men are the only team to have lost all five group matches this season, conceding 15 goals along the way, but will be looking to restore some pride in their final match of the campaign. 

They have enjoyed better domestic fortunes, however, winning seven of their last nine games in the Israeli Premier League to sit top on goal difference.

Defender Tal Ben Haim will be suspended for their trip to Kiev after being sent off in the 4-0 defeat to his former club Chelsea on matchday five, while Dejan Radonjic remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Shlomy Azulay is also doubtful after picking up a hamstring knock in the 0-0 draw at Hapoel Kfar-Saba on Saturday, while the fitness of Artem Kravets is Dynamo’s only injury worry.

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