Callum Seniuk –
For Dynamo Kyiv the prospect of life without Serhiy Rebrov, a manager who essentially revived the sleeping giant, was going to be somewhat daunting.
Ukrainian Football is currently in a difficult situation, primarily due to the conflict occurring in the east. With that being the case, when a team has success or represents Ukraine on the European stage, it’s always appreciated. This is the case with Dynamo Kyiv. Hailing from the capital, Dynamo Kyiv has a rich history dating back to 1927. Part of that rich history features Ukrainian legends such as Valeriy Lobanovskyi, Oleh Blokhin, Igor Belanov and Andriy Shevchenko. Three Ballon d’Or winners who will forever be highly regarded in Ukrainian Football. With such names being associated with Dynamo Kyiv, and the fact that Kyiv has won a total of 15 titles in the Ukrainian Premier League, as well as 13 Soviet titles, the team reigning from the capital is always under the spotlight.
Serhiy Rebrov – The Engineer of Dynamo’s Revival
Serhiy Rebrov has long been associated with Dynamo Kyiv. His playing days saw a total of 242 appearances and 113 goals during his two stints at the capital club. It is commonly forgotten that Rebrov started his professional career at Shakhtar Donetsk. Despite this, Rebrov is genuinely Kyiv through and through. Becoming the all-time Ukrainian Premier League scorer, winning nine Ukrainian Premier League titles, seven Ukrainian Cup’s and on Super Cup, Rebrov certainly put his mark on Ukrainian Football during his playing career.
Cementing his name in Dynamo Kyiv’s history further, Serhiy Rebrov became manager of the club in 2014. Rebrov’s tenure can only be described as a success. Winning the Ukrainian Premier League and Cup twice, followed by the Super Cup in 2016, getting to the quarter-finals of the Europa League (14/15), reaching the round of 16 in the Champions League (15/16) for the first time since 1999, Rebrov worked his magic. Ranked as the 33rd best manager in 2015 and the 35th in 2016 by FourFourTwo, Rebrov can indeed be proud of his managerial career in Kyiv. For Dynamo Kyiv, the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season epitomised the impact Rebrov had on the club, especially after the disappointing 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
The height of Rebrov’s tenure came during his European campaigns with Kyiv. Mixed with some impressive performances on the European stage, the fixture against Everton in 2014-15 stands out. Kyiv and Rebrov made the most of the European stage. Their magic was on display for the world to see.
The 4-2-3-1 formation used by Rebrov proved effective, especially when Dynamo faced the likes of Everton in European competitions. Making the most of Kyiv’s assets at the back and upfront, Serhiy Rebrov saw his team working at its best. From Yarmolenko’s ability to create space down the right, or the sheer brilliance of Vitorino Antunes’ screamer to seal the game, Dynamo Kyiv had it all. A total of 17 shots, 12 chances created, 57% possession, 14 take ons, Kyiv deservedly came away as the victors. The team’s effort, alongside individual brilliance, propelled the Ukrainian club to the quarterfinals of the Europa League.
They were unfortunately eliminated by Fiorentina in the next round. Despite the unfortunate end to Kyiv’s European campaign, full of confidence they went on to win the league, undefeated. Winning by 10 points, Dynamo Kyiv were back where they belonged. Previously winning the league in 2008-09, it had been a long wait for the club. Alongside their domination in the league, Kyiv were also successful in the cup. Achieving a domestic double for the first time in eight years, it was safe the say Rebrov was reviving the sleeping giants.
Progressing further, Dynamo Kyiv saw themselves in the Champions League. Rebrov’s men saw themselves reach the round of 16 for the first time since 1999, an impressive achievement for the Ukrainian club. Similar to that of the previous season, Kyiv saw European achievements combine with domestic success. Despite being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Ukrainian Cup, Kyiv went on to win the league again.
Dynamo Kyiv had not won the league consecutively since 2002-03 and 2003-04. Primarily due to several important players such as Łukasz Teodorczyk leaving, Rebrov faced a somewhat disappointing 2016-17. Finishing second in the league behind Shakhtar Donetsk with a difference of 13 points, anything but the league was always going to be frustrating for Kyiv. Making the league disappointing sourer, Kyiv lost to Shakhtar in the cup final. Their European campaign saw a fourth-place finish in the group stages of the Champions League, despite a 6-0 thrashing of Besiktas. A disappointing season, Dynamo Kyiv would be hoping to bounce back with some silverware. The bounce back would be without Serhiy Rebrov.
Departing at the end of his contract, Serhiy Rebrov saw his talents move to Saudi Arabia. His three years as manager of Dynamo Kyiv can be regarded as a period of success. Bringing in a total of five domestic trophies, and showing Kyiv’s magic on the European stage, Rebrov certainly revived the Ukrainian giant. It’s certain that Serhiy Rebrov further cemented himself in the history of Dynamo Kyiv and Ukrainian football.
Khatskevich and the Long Rebuild at Dynamo Kyiv
Sticking to common roots, Dynamo Kyiv hired Alyaksandr Khatskevich as their manager. Playing for Kyiv between 1996 and 2004, Khatskevich knew what was expected of him. Being one of the giants, anything but success was a failure. Khatskevich would know a lot about success, winning the league with Kyiv on seven occasions. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that Kyiv won the league consecutively during those seven occasions where Khatskevich featured.
It is clear that Khatskevich lives and breathes success, especially when it comes down to Dynamo Kyiv, but could that be applied on the pitch? So far it appears that it can. Apart from their disappointing performance against Chornomorets, Kyiv were on a ten game unbeaten streak, winning seven and drawing three. The loss against Chornomorets hurt the club, especially with Shakhtar Donetsk top of the league. Currently lying in second after 11 games played, Kyiv are seven points behind Shakhtar. Taking into account that the Dynamo Kyiv vs Mariupol fixture was postponed, the seven-point difference doesn’t look as bad.
Primarily using the 4-2-3-1 formation, Khatskevich looks to make the most of the team’s talent. Going into the season, there was a worry regarding Kyiv’s attack, especially with the departure of Andriy Yarmolenko, a player who was a vital component of the clubs attack. Judging by the 25 goals scored so far this season, Kyiv’s attack is filling the void. Seen as the heir to Yarmolenko, Viktor Tsygankov is on the road to becoming an impressive talent. Already past his previous season regarding goals, Tsygankov has racked up five goals in ten games. Playing a total of 729 minutes compared to 900 minutes in the 20 league games last season, it’s clear that Tsygankov is developing. His hat trick against Karpaty Lviv proves that. Judging by his current progression, Tsygankov will continue to feature for Kyiv.
With a developing talent such as Tsygankov on the team, it’s important to make sure that the rest of team is progressing. So far it appears that this is occurring. In attack, the 25 goals scored this season are spread out among players such as Dieumerci Mbokani, Tsygankov, Vitaliy Buyalskyy, Artem Kravets, Kyiv appear not to be relying on one sole goal scorer. In this case, Khatskevich seems content with a spread in goal scorers. So far this is working. But there is a danger that this could dry up or become less prominent.
An example of Kyiv’s limited availability of an out and out goal scorer can be seen in their performance in the Europa League against BSC Young Boys. Drawing 2-2, Kyiv failed to take advantage of going seven points clear in their group. Finishing the game with 21 shots and 14 chances created, Kyiv will be disappointed that they were unable to come away with the win. Out of Kyiv’s 21 shots, eight were off target, six were blocked, and 1 hit the woodwork. That means that 7 of their shots were on target. These statistics suggest that Kyiv needed to work the ball better and be more clinical in front of goal. Khatskevich will be hoping that this can be ironed out as Dynamo Kyiv progress further.
Defensively, Kyiv have been solid in the league. Conceding nine goals in 11 games, the defensive capabilities are apparent. Domagoj Vida and Yevhen Khacheridi, the familiar faces of Dynamo’s defence, continue to perform to high standard. With the defence in shape, Kyiv are in a good position to press on with domestic and European football. If Kyiv can work on ironing out disappointing performances, such as the loss against Chornomorets, and commit more upfront, then they put themselves in an excellent position to challenge for the league.
Ultimately the real test comes down to playing against Shakhtar Donetsk. Facing Shakhtar at home with the NSC Olimpiyskiy seeing a higher attendance than normal, Kyiv were in a good position to put in a positive performance. With the injuries to some plays such as Tsygankov, the home side had to look to other areas to produce goals. Ending in a goalless draw, Kyiv’s performance against Shakhtar was mixed. Both teams weren’t great, but Shakhtar got the upper hand regarding possession. Despite Kyiv lacking the creativity in attack, they were able to create some opportunity and have a total of eight shots in the game. Overall it was an average performance that lacked potency and intensity expect of a clash against Shakhtar Donetsk.
So far Alyaksandr Khatskevich has had a reasonably positive start to his managerial career at Dynamo Kyiv. Apart from some bumps along the way, especially draws and their loss to Chornomorets, overall Kyiv look fairly positive on the pitch. Whether it be in defence, midfield or attack, the club hailing from the capital are in a good position, especially when fully fit.
Unfortunately, Kyiv have been hit with a few injuries which has impacted their performances and ability to be consistent. With the lack of a reliable out and out goal scorer as well as limited funds, Kyiv will have to rely on their youth system and talent coming through the team. Tsygankov is the primary example of this. Going forward, Khatskevich will have a task on his hands in keeping a positive approach, especially with the pressure involved in managing a club steeped in history. It may take time, but there is hope that Dynamo Kyiv will return to be a formidable force once again.Callum Seniuk is a History graduate from the United Kingdom who is an avid watcher of the Bundesliga. Losing his passion for the Premier League, Callum quickly found himself developing his love for the Bundesliga and German football. Channeling his Ukrainian heritage, Callum also follows and keeps track of Ukrainian Football. Follow Callum on Twitter @CallumSeniuk