AEK Athens vs Dynamo Kyiv – Thursday, February 15, 20:05GMT/21:05CET – Olympiako Stadio Athinas Spyros Louis, Athens, Greece.
Dynamo Kyiv are the only Ukrainian club to survive in the Europa League. Finishing first in a group that included Partizan, Young Boys and Skenderbeu Dynamo collected 13 of 18 possible points in the group stage.
The question for Dynamo, however, is whether they can carry over their excellent form from the first half of the season to the second half of the season. Kyiv’s last competitive game, after all, came against FK Oleksandriya on matchday 19 of the Ukrainian Premier League on December 10.
Like it is the case from teams from Russia the long winter break is the biggest obstacle for teams from the post-Soviet space to go deep into European competitions. With the first round of knockout stage games taking place before the second half of the season has kicked off Dynamo will be forced to find their legs right away.
Playing the second leg at home is always a big advantage. In this case, Dynamo will be happy not to have to go straight from training camp to play in cold weather in Ukraine. Instead, they get a full competitive game in a warmer climate in Greece. Their number one goal will be to get a narrow result that will give them a fighting chance when the tie returns to Ukraine the following week.
AEK Athens in the meantime are currently second in the Greek Super League behind PAOK and ahead of perpetual champions Olympiacos. On the weekend they recorded their fourth win in a row in the league against Asteras Tripolis. In good form and the middle of a busy league schedule, AEK may have the weaker squad on paper but have the advantage of having played through the winter and could, therefore, walk away with a good result from the first leg.
AEK Athens vs Dynamo Kyiv – Player to look out for:
Sergio Araujo #11 – AEK Athens
The 26-year-old Argentine scorer has been AEK Athens second most dangerous marksman this season. Signed by UD Las Palmas this summer Araujo has scored seven goals and two assists in 16 Super League games. He also added one goal and one assist in six Europa League matches. A Boca Junior product Dynamo Kyiv will have to shut him down to get a positive result in Greece.
Viktor Tsygankov #15 – Dynamo Kyiv
With six goals and four assists in 15 Ukrainian Premier League games, the 20-year-old Tsygankov has been one of Dynamo’s most prolific players this season. Born in Nahariya Israel the winger is widely considered the heir of Andrey Yarmolenko, who left the club for Borussia Dortmund this summer. Several top clubs already scout a hot prospect Tsygankov throughout Europe, and it will be only a matter of time until he will make a move to Western Europe.
AEK Athens vs Dynamo Kyiv – Match Stats
- While AEK have never faced opposition from Ukraine, Dynamo have a positive record against Greek clubs, although the victories they achieved in their two knockout ties, against Olympiacos and PAOK, were both back in the mid-1970s.
- Since then they have played just two more matches, losing 2-1 at Panathinaikos before winning by the same margin at home in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League group stage.
- AEK are on an eight-match unbeaten run in Europe, their last five fixtures have ended in draws. They have kept five clean sheets during that eight-game sequence.
- The Athens club were the only unbeaten side in the group stage to qualify as runners-up. The other three – Atalanta, Salzburg and Zenit – all topped their sections.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: AEK Athens vs Dynamo Kyiv – 2-1
AEK Athens vs Dynamo Kyiv – Possible Lineups
Tsintotas – Hult, Chyrgrynskiy, Lampropoulos, Bakakis – Bakasetas, Moran, Galanopoulos, Rodrigo Galo – Shojaei – Araujo
Coach: Manolo Jimenez
Boyko – Pivaric, Zambrano, Khacheridi, Kedziora – Shepelev, Shaparenko – Tsygankov, Gharmash, Morozyuk – Junior Moraes
Coach: Aleksandr Khatskevich
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.