VMC European Preview: Dynamo Kiev v City
Lobanovsky Dynamo Stadium
Thursday, 10th March
'The opponent should not be underestimated` is a comment that gets thrown about a lot. It is often misused, referencing to teams who have the potential to cause an upset, but in this instance, it is particularly relevant. Dynamo Kiev are a very good team indeed, and will provide a much tougher test than we have faced thus far in the competition.
'I know all about Shevchenko from his time in Italy, I thought he was fantastic when he was there and he is obviously one of the best players in the Dynamo team. But they are a good side, they don't just have Shevchencko, they have Milevskiy, Gusev and others.
'It's going to be a difficult game, and also we know that the pitch is not very good. It's a very hard pitch because of the cold weather. 'James Milner is not fit, but Shaun is with us although he is not 100%. Nigel is here, only James did not travel because of this hamstring problem.'
'I still have a home in Sarajevo and there is a room where the walls are covered with football jerseys,' said Dzeko. 'One is a Milan shirt with Shevchenko's name and number on the back. It is an original from one of his Serie A appearances and he has autographed it. It has pride of place. It really is my prized possession. It always brings a smile to my face when I see it.'
'Shevchenko was always the favourite player for me. He was my idol. When we met we exchanged shirts and talked for a while. It was great. He had some tough times with Chelsea but England is very different from other leagues. I'll have to get used to it too. Hopefully I'll have a lot of success.'
Dynamo Kiev Team News:
Kiev are dangerous from set piece situations and have a similar playing style to City, building attacks with thoughtful passing. In their ranks they have Roman Eremenko, the man with the most assists in the competition this season. Their craft from midfield will cause the most problems but do not dismiss Andriy Schevchenko, the prestigious hit man will be keen to make an impact.
Probable Kiev Team
Danilo Silva - Khacheridi - Leandro Almeida - Popov
Gusev - Eremenko - Vukojevic - Yarmolenko
Shevchenko - Milevskiy
Player to watch: Unknown
Manchester City Team News:
The players are returning in their numbers. Nigel de Jong and Shaun Wright-Phillips are both back after troubling injuries, and return to the squad. After a brief spell from the bench against Wigan, Nigel is line-to make his first start in a month against the Ukrainian opposition. SWP 'is not 100%` but could still make a cameo from the bench. James Milner is the only new absence; he didn`t travel with a tight hamstring.
Edin Dzeko is likely to start after sitting on the bench for the last two games, probably at the expense of Carlos Tevez. Boateng will probably be deemed unavailable with his wife predicted to give birth any day. Therefore meaning the same back four could be selected for a first time in a long while. The only player threatening the settled back-line is Kolarov who will be eager to return to left back.
The quality that Yuri Semin has at his disposal should mean that Mancini will revert playing just one up front. With support from Silva and Kolarov from the wide positions. Here is what I think the team will look like:
Probable City Team
2) Richards - 4) Kompany - 19) Lescott - 13) Kolarov
42) Yaya - 34) de Jong - 18) Barry
21) Silva - 10) Dzeko - 45) Balotelli
Player to watch: Edin Dzeko
The cup specialist is relishing this chance. He is expected to lead the line whilst Tevez recharges his batteries on the bench. Dzeko has spoke of his admiration for Kiev frontman Andriy Shevchenko, and how his signed Milan shirt is his prized possession back in Sarajevo. Despite his fondness though, Edin is keen to continue his goal scoring in the competition. His brace against Aris took his goal tally to four since his transfer from Wolfsburg.
Match Facts & Stats
Manchester City and Dynamo Kiev have never previously met in a European competition
Alexei Eremenko has recorded the most assists in the competition with 12.
Emmanuel Adebayor is City's top scorer in Europe with 4 goals, helped by a hat trick against Lech Poznan.
Pablo Zabaleta has played the most games of any Blue, making 8 appearances in the competition.
I think this is going to be a real tricky one. Kiev are a very good team indeed and play probing, patient football. City's physicality in midfield could prove key though, the likes of de Jong, Yaya Toure and Vieira will have to shackle the creative talents in their midfield. The likes of Eremenko and Yarmolenko will cause problems with their dribbling abilities. After a 4 day break, Mancini will select a strong team, but with Tevez's slight dip in form; I expect him to be rested and Dzeko to start in his place. Barry may also be dropped in favour of the returning de Jong. All in all, in the freezing Ukrainian conditions and against one of Europe's best footballing sides, I think we will struggle a bit. Prediction: Kiev 1 - 1 City.
Sunday 13th March v Reading, FA Quarter (H)