After the Champions League Disaster Dynamo Kyiv are Back to Reality

After the Champions League Disaster Dynamo Kyiv are Back to Reality

Vadim Furmanov –

After an encouraging start to the season that included a 1-0 derby victory over Shakhtar and a 3-1 win at home in the first round of their Champions League qualifier over Young Boys, a 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture in Switzerland saw Dynamo Kyiv crash out of the elite competition at the first hurdle. With the result, the early-season optimism of Dynamo supporters burst apart and reverted to cynicism and despair.

In truth, the optimism was misguided from the start. The 2-0 Supercup defeat to Shakhtar at the very beginning of the season plainly revealed Dynamo’s many shortcomings and demonstrated the superiority of their eternal rivals. Their league form has been impressive – three wins from three – but other than Shakhtar their two victories came against Karpaty and Chornomorets the two weakest teams in the league at the moment.

The derby victory itself was hardly indicative of any power shift back to the capital, and in the first leg against Young Boys, the 3-1 result all three of Dynamo’s goals were a direct result of egregious defensive errors on the part of their opponents.

Optimism was Misguided from the Start

Nevertheless, with such a commanding victory the Dynamo faithful reasonably expected to pass through to the next round. But with the disastrous performance in Bern, the club have now dropped down into the playoff stage of the Europa League. One of president Ihor Surkis’ stated aims before the start of the campaign – reaching the group stages of the Champions League – is already out of reach.

Dynamo never looked comfortable in the match and were down a goal inside of fifteen minutes after giving away a ridiculous penalty. Left back Mykola Morozyuk lost the ball in his penalty area and fouled a Young Boys attacking the player in an awkward attempt at a clearance. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, which was converted by Guillaume Hoarau.

Young Boys controlled the pace of the game and continued to put pressure on the Dynamo goal, making good use of the flanks. Newly appointed Belarusian manager Alyaksandr Khatskevich was unable to make the necessary tactical adjustments at halftime, and in the second half, the side’s plan seemed to be limited to waiting out the ninety minutes.

It nearly worked, too, but a horrible mistake from goalkeeper Maksym Koval in the 90th minute was the decisive moment. Koval had had a fantastic match up until that point, but he spilt a weak header from a corner into his own goal.

Khatskevich needs time to Rebuild Dynamo Kyiv

Dynamo Kyiv were unable to respond in stoppage time. In fact, they only managed to create a single clear-cut opportunity throughout the match, but star man Andriy Yarmolenko failed to convert a one-on-one chance early in the second half. And just like that, Dynamo were out on away goals.

However, just as the optimism following the promising start to the season was misguided, interpreting this defeat as a catastrophe and calling for Khatskevich’s head after this one defeat is equally unwarranted.

Coaching Dynamo Kyiv will be a big step up for Khatskevich from his previous job as the head coach of Belarus. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Khatskevich needs time to rebuild Dynamo. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Khatskevich has barely been on the job for two months, and this was his first major European test. Keep in mind; Young Boys are a side that were also able to overcome a 2-0 defeat against Shakhtar at this very stage of the competition a year ago; the Swiss team are no minnows.

Additionally, while the Champions League is now out of the picture, Dynamo can now concentrate on qualifying for the Europa League, which is a competition more suited to their level of play. They have been drawn against Portuguese side C.S. Maritimo for the playoff stage, a winnable tie that can lift the mood of the Dynamo faithful. A failure on that front, however, may truly be disastrous.

Vadim Furmanov is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Originally from Ukraine, Vadim has resided in Chicago since 1994 and is a passionate supporter of both Dynamo Kyiv and the Ukrainian national team. He is also a Chicago Fire season ticket holder and a member of the Fire’s Section 8 supporters group. He writes primarily about Ukrainian football, as well as the intersection between football, politics, and history. You can follow Vadim on Twitter @vfurmanov.