How did they qualify?
Dynamo Kiev were hugely impressive last season, remaining unbeaten and winning a first Ukrainian title since 2009 after five seasons in the shadow of their big-spending compatriots Shakhtar Donetsk. They conceded just 12 goals in their 26 league games and kept a remarkable 16 clean sheets. Whilst the Ukrainian top flight may not be the strongest, those statistics should not be ignored. Make no mistake, the long trip to Kiev will not be easy for Chelsea.
Record in Europe:
Champions League regulars due to their strong domestic record, Dynamo’s heyday came in the late ‘90s as the Ukrainian side – spearheaded by Andriy Shevchenko – reached the quarter-finals in 1997/98 and the semi-finals a year later. Since then, they have not made it past the group stage of this competition in 12 attempts. They reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season, thumping Everton 5-2 in Kiev along the way. Their only European trophies have come in the form of the Cup Winner’s Cup, which they have won twice – in 1975 and 1986.
Who’s the boss?
Sergei Rebrov is best known amongst English fans for a forgettable spell at Tottenham, but he is a hero in Kiev. Having scored over 100 goals for Dynamo over two separate spells at the club, Rebrov moved into the dugout initially as a caretaker before taking the job permanently in the summer of 2014. A proud Ukrainian, he has provided some joy to a war-torn city by providing a long-awaited league title. “Football means a lot to Ukrainian people and this has united us during the difficult times,” Rebrov said in an interview after Dynamo sealed the championship.
How they’ll play:
Every Dynamo Kiev manager feels pressure to adhere to the legacy of Valeriy Lobanovskyi, the manager who won two Cup Winner’s Cups and 13 league titles during his time in charge. Rebrov, however, has modernised the team, who now play a fast counter-attacking style whilst staying true to the defensive solidity that characterised their successful teams of yesteryear. As a former player, Rebrov has gained favour amongst the veterans from Kiev’s teams from the glory days who in the past have been resistant to any change in style.
Consistently linked with Everton this summer after tearing the Toffees apart in the Europa League last season, Dynamo Kiev have done well to keep hold of star man Andriy Yarmolenko. The Ukraine international expressed a desire to leave Kiev for a fresh challenge in the summer, but he has ended up staying put and will hope to add to his 71 goals he has managed in a Kiev shirt to date. A tricky winger, Yarmolenko is blessed with pace, a rocket shot and is capable of playing on either side; if he impresses against Champions League opposition he should get the move he craves.