Östersund vs Zorya Luhansk – Thursday, November 23, 18:00 BST/19:00 CET – Jämtkraft Arena, Östersund
When Group J was drawn, it was expected that Athletic Club and Hertha BSC would be the team’s leading the way. However, that hasn’t been the case. Östersunds FK and FC Zorya Luhansk have provided the story of the underdogs battling for progression. Their clash the Jämtkraft Arena in Östersund is the battle of the underdog.
Located in the middle of Sweden with a city population of approximately 49,000-50,000, Östersund finds itself resting on the shores of Sweden’s fifth largest lake, Storsjӧn. Home to four football clubs, Östersunds FK, takes prominence in the city. Starting in the second qualifying round against Galatasaray, the Swedish side faced a difficult task against the Turkish giants. Despite this, Östersunds FK were able to brush past Galatasaray and progress into the play-off round where they were able to overcome PAOK. Currently finding themselves in Group J with Zorya Luhansk, Athletic Bilbao and Hertha BSC, Östersunds were expected to have a little impact in the group. However, they have been a pleasant surprise in the Europa League. Sitting top of Group J with two wins, one draw and one loss, the Swedish side are in the driving seat to advance further in the Europa League.
Recently promoted to the Sweden’s top tier, Östersunds FK have been on the up since their establishment in 1996. Finishing 8th in their first season in the Allsvenskan, the team located in the middle of Sweden is on unbeaten form since October. Managed by Graham Potter, the 2016-17 Manager of the Year, Östersunds FK currently find themselves in 5th with 50 points. With goals coming from all over, the Swedish offer an offensive ability that can produce when it matters. Scoring eight goals in the past three games, Östersunds go into their clash against Zorya Luhansk on fine form. The prospect of Östersunds FK vs FC Zorya Luhansk is heating up to be an exciting prospect at the Jämtkraft Arena.
Like their Swedish counterparts, FC Zorya Luhansk have been a pleasant surprise in the Europa League. Exiled by a vicious conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Zorya Luhansk have found an exiled home in Zaporizhia. Finishing last season in 3rd, Zorya Luhansk went into the 17/18 with a positive outlook. Unfortunately, so far it hasn’t been plain sailing. Currently sitting 6th in the Ukrainian Premier League, Zorya have had a different season so far. Four wins, eight draws and four losses, the Ukrainian are hoping that can add some more wins to the column. Despite their average league performance, Zorya have been a bright spark in the Europa League. Marching their way forward to the group stages, Zorya Luhansk sit in 2nd behind the other bright spark in the Europa League. Facing Östersunds FK at the Jämtkraft Arena, the Ukrainian side has the opportunity to prove a point and show what they and Ukrainian Football has to offer.
Previously losing to Östersunds FK in Matchday One, Zorya Luhansk will be hoping to redeem themselves against the Swedish side. Beating Athletic Club and Hertha Berlin in their previous fixtures, Zorya have the potential and ability to overcome the larger and more experienced teams in the Europa League. Challenging their underdog and grit mentality, Zorya Luhansk will have the support of Ukraine behind them. Representing the country on the European stages, Zorya are a bright spark in a period of darkness in Ukraine. There is hope that Zorya Luhansk can advance to the next phase of the Europa League.
Östersund vs Zorya Luhansk – Player to look for:
Saman Ghoddos #93 – Östersunds FK
Currently Östersunds top goalscorer in the Allsvenskan, Saman Ghoddos has been leading the line in Sweden. The Iranian attacker has been at the club since 2016 and is becoming an essential component of Östersunds attacking style of play. Not only can Ghoddos score but he can assist as well. Four assists in the Allsvenskan suggests that he can produce and provide in abundance. On the European stage, Ghoddos has been just as effective as he has in Sweden. Scoring four goals in the Europa League and spurring Östersunds FK forward, the Iranian has played an essential role in the underdog story of the Swedish side. Scoring against Zorya Luhansk during Matchday One, Ghoddos already knows what it takes to get past the Ukrainian team. Zorya Luhansk will have to be on alert at the Jämtkraft Arena.
Silas #96 – FC Zorya Luhansk
Man of the Match in Zorya Luhansk’s Europa League clash against Hertha BSC at the Arena Lviv, Zorya’s midfielder is certainly going to be one to watch. Four shots, 69% pass accuracy, two take ons, two interceptions, one clearance, and two blocks against Hertha Berlin, the Brazilian caught the attention of many with his performance. Playing in midfield, Silas is the key component of everything Zorya does. Whether it be defence or attack, Silas is going to be there. Scoring against Berlin at the Arena Lviv, Silas helped put smiles on the face of Zorya fans in achieving three points and an impressive victory against their Bundesliga opponents. Roaming the midfield, Zorya’s Brazilian maestro will be central to the Ukrainian side’s performance in Östersund. If he can replicate his Man of the Match performance, Zorya will be within a good chance of returning to Ukraine with three points.
Östersund vs Zorya Luhansk – Match Stats
- Östersunds FK beat FC Zorya Luhansk 2-0 on Matchday One at Arena Lviv
- Östersunds FK will advance to the next stage of the Europa League with a win
- The Swedish side are unbeaten in 5 UEFA Home games
- Zorya have lost 5 of their last 6 European away fixtures
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Östersund vs Zorya Luhansk 2-1
Östersund vs Zorya Luhansk – Possible Lineups
Keita – Widgren, Pettersson, Papagiannopoulos, Mukiibi – Nouri – Gero, Edwards, Bachirou, Sema – Ghoddos
Coach: Graham Potter
FC Zorya Luhansk
Lunin – Sukhotskiy, Grechyshkin, Svatok, Opanasenko – Kharatin – Lunov, Silas, Gordiyenko, Karavayev – Iury
Coach: Yuriy Vernydub
Callum Seniuk is a History graduate of 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