Mariupol vs Djurgarden – Thursday, August 2, 18:00 BST/19:00 CEST – Chornomorets, Odessa, Ukraine
After a 1-1 draw in Sweden Mariupol will head back to Ukraine with a slight advantage ahead of the second leg in the second round of UEFA Europa League qualifying. At the same time, however, the club, coached by Oleksandr Babych is already facing a crisis.
Babych’s men started the Ukrainian Premier League season with two defeats. While the matchday 1 defeat to Zorya Luhansk is not a major surprise. Zorya, after all, are one of the top teams in the country, but the 4-1 beating received from Desna Chernihiv most certainly will have some early alarm bells going off in Eastern Ukraine.
Desna were only promoted at the end of last season and although they are a well-run club should not be able to muster the sort of challenge to blow Mariupol out of the water at this stage of the season. As a result, head coach Babych will now be under pressure to deliver as the club face Djurgarden in Odessa for the second leg of the second round Europa League clash on Thursday.
Both teams will have to travel to play the second leg. With the security situation remaining a major concern in Eastern Ukraine UEFA has forced Mariupol – despite the club being allowed to play their domestic games in Mariupol – to play their home games away from home.
Mariupol is about 600km East of Odessa, which means that the club will be only a few supporters in the stands of the Chornormoets Stadium in Odessa. For Swedish fans, in the meantime, the trip down south could be a treat not just for the game.
Odessa is a major holiday destination in Ukraine and is one of the most beautiful cities in the post-Soviet space. On the pitch, there is also hope for Djurgarden. The club may have lost top striker Tino Kadewere, he has moved to Le Havre in France, but a draw against Sundsvall on the weekend means that the club from Stockholm remains in the hunt for a Europa League qualification spot. Now with Mariupol struggling in the league, the Swedes are favourites to advance to the next round.
Mariupol vs Djurgarden – Players to look out for:
Ruslan Fomin #86 – FK Mariupol
Ruslan Fomin is the most experienced player in Mariupol’s squad. Signed from Shakhtar Donetsk this summer the 32-year-old former U-21 national team player first joined Shakhtar in 2005. Since then he has been on an odyssey that included playing for seven different clubs all over the post-Soviet space. This will be Fomin’s third stint in Mariupol, and the striker hopes that his experience will be enough to guide Mariupol through the season and that he can convince the club to remain in Mariupol on a more permanent basis.
Aliou Badji #20 – Djurgarden
The departure of Kadewere has left a major hole up front for Djurgarden. With no other striker in the team coming close to the eight goals scored by the Zimbabwean throughout this season Djurgarden’s head coach Özcan Melkemichel will hope to distribute the responsibility of scoring goals on several shoulders. One of the players, who will be expected to contribute more will be striker Aliou Badji. The 20-year-old Senegalese striker is considered a major talent and in 15 games has scored three goals and two assists this season.
Mariupol vs Djurgarden – Match Stats
- The first leg 1-1 draw was the first time the two teams played each other.
- Mariupol took part in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup and were eliminated by Austria Wien in the second qualifying round.
- Djurgarden last participated in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup where they were eliminated in the second qualification round by Trondheim based club Rosenborg.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Mariupol vs Djurgarden – 1-2
Mariupol vs Djurgarden – Lineups
Khudzhamov – Demiri, Yavorsky, Bykov, Bily, Kiryukhantsev – Mishnyov, Pikhalyonok – Tyshchenko, Churko – Fomin
Head Coach: Oleksandr Babych
Isaksson – Augustinsson, Johansson, Olsson, Une Larsson – Walker, Ulvestad – Radetinac, Ring – Mrabti, Kozica
Head Coach: Özcan Melkemichel
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. 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 is available HERE. 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.