Dynamo Kiev v. Shakhtar Donetsk
UEFA Cup Semifinal Preview
First Leg: Thursday, April 30, 2009 – Valeri Lobanovski Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
Second Leg: Thursday, May 7, 2009 – RSK Olympyiskyi, Donetsk, Ukraine.
To Ukrainians, the rivalry between Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk is like Barcelona/Real Madrid, Rangers/Celtic, Galatasaray/Fenerbache, or Manchester United/Liverpool.
Either Dynamo Kiev or Shakhtar Donetsk have won every single Ukrainian Premier League title, except for the very first one in 1992. The two clubs have finished in the top two spots in all but four seasons, with Dynamo leading the way with 12 titles followed by Shakhtar’s 4. Shakhtar have had their way with Dynamo as of late, winning three out of the last four league titles, including last season.
The two clubs have also dominated the Ukrainian Cup, with Dynamo winning 9 times and Shakhtar winning 6 times, including last season, when they defeated, who else, Dynamo in the Finals. They’ve also met in every single Ukrainian Super Cup since the trophy was established in 2004. Dynamo have won three, but Shakhtar are the current holders.
This season finds the two clubs, once again, on top of the table as Dynamo hold a healthy lead over Shakhtar. However, Shakhtar defeated Dynamo during their first meeting of the year and still hold bragging rights from last year.
Clearly, these two teams don’t need any additional motivation when facing one another. However, the stakes will be high as a birth in the UEFA Cup Finals will be on the line. While Dynamo have had success in Europe before, winning the Cup Winners Cup on two occasions, and making the semifinals of the Champions League three times, this is new territory for Shakhtar. The Donetsk club have never won any European silverware and would love to change that, especially at the expense of their longtime rivals.
To further cement their similarities, both teams cruised past French teams in the previous round. Dynamo knocked out Paris Saint-Germain on an aggregate score of 3-0 while Shakhtar ousted Marseille, 4-1 on aggregate. Dynamo’s goal machine, Artem Milevskiy, didn’t score during the PSG tie, which should make other teams nervous. Dynamo have been getting plenty of offense from other players, and have scored 60 goals in the Ukrainian league, which is nearly twice as many as the second-highest scoring team (you have one guess who that is).
Shakhtar haven’t been slouches, either. They’ve gotten production from Luiz Adriano, Fernandinho, and Darijo Srna, and they’ve conceded one less goal in the league than Dynamo through April 25, 2009.
In a rivalry as intense as this one, all the records go out the window. As such, we should be in for a heated match between two hated rivals. Will Dynamo prevail? Or will Shakhtar finally get to play in a European final?
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