Ukraine’s most decorated club welcomes struggling Manchester City in the first elimination round of UEFA Champions League eager to prove they are more than just underdogs in the Europe’s elite competition.
Ukrainian giants have had a successful group campaign having qualified for the knock-out stages as the second-placed team in Group G, two points shorter than leaders Chelsea. With their domestic league on hold since December for the winter break, Dynamo Kyiv have been working hard during the last two months in Spain, where they had had a number of friendly matches to keep their form up. Their last test was the 2-1 victory over Strongodset, after which Serhiy Rebrov’s men returned to Kyiv. Dynamo had another test on Sunday when the team faced the club’s U-21 and U-19 outfits and Rebrov’s charges are fully concentrated and focused on the challenge that lies ahead, ready to show that lack of competitive football will not affect their display against the Citizens. The hosts will be hoping their main star Andriy Yarmolenko will be fit for the UEFA Champions League showdown. The talented forward has been the subject of numerous transfer rumours linking him with a switch to the Premier League, but he has been reported injured and his appearance is under a serious doubt, which would be a huge blow to Dynamo’s chances.
Junior Moraes has had some health problems, but he is closing to his return and should play a part in the Wednesday’s match.
Winter signings Nikita Korzun and Olexandr Yakovenko are at full disposal and should be involved against Manchester City. The hosts will have to do without left back Vitorino Antunes, who is suspended for the upcoming affair.
Unlike their Ukrainian hosts, Manchester City have played 12 competitive matches since the turn of the year. Citizens are currently experiencing a rough patch having lost their last three games in all competitions and Manuel Pellegrini will have a difficult time lifting his team’s spirit ahead of the visit to Kyiv. The Chilean manager will leave Etihad at the end of the season and his main aim is to try and leave his mark in the UEFA Champions League. He willingly sacrificed the FA Cup fixture at Chelsea when he opted to rest his first-team choices and to field a team full of young guns who were battered by the Blues 5-1. Just five wins in these 12 games since the Champions League group stage concluded is not a record Citizens can be proud of and team’s captain Joe Hart has issued a rallying cry to his teammates. Manchester City are amidst the heavy schedule and they will face Liverpool in the League Cup final at the weekend, which will be their first chance to fight for silverware this season. Their Premier League chances have been seriously damaged, as the fourth-seeded Manchester are trailing leaders Leicester by six points and Champions League is another chance of turning the fortunes around and making their season successful in the end.
Manuel Pellegrini has awarded his young talents Manu Garcia and Brandon Baker with Champions League inclusion following their performances at Stamford Bridge.
Citizens have finally been handed some good news as Elaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna return to the fold and will be available for selection together with the captain Vincent Kompany who is travelling to Ukraine.
Key Factors to Consider
- Dynamo Kyiv haven’t had a competitive match since December
- Manchester City have lost three matches on the bounce
- Citizens have conceded ten goals in their last three games
- Dynamo Kyiv have lost only one of their last ten home fixtures
- There have been under 2.5 goals in both previous meetings between the two sides
The hosts haven’t had a proper game since their final Champions League group stage match in December. Their training camps in Spain have served the purpose, but they will be up against the fully charged Manchester City who travel to Ukraine under huge pressure to turn their results around.
Verdict: Away win
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