Preview: Dynamo Kyiv vs. Fenerbahce

Preview: Dynamo Kyiv vs. Fenerbahce

Both getting their quest for a place in the Champions League under way on Wednesday, Dynamo Kiev and Fenerbahce meet for the first leg of their second qualifying round tie.

The teams convene in Lodz, as Dynamo have been displaced from the Ukrainian capital by the ongoing war there, with the winners after next week’s return going on to face Austria’s Sturm Graz in the third round.

Six teams will reach the 2022-23 Champions League group stage via qualifying, and Dynamo Kyiv’s attempts to do so against the odds start at their new base in Poland, Stadion Miejski LKS.

Dynamo’s ‘Stop the War, Play for Peace’ international tour has been ongoing for several months, as the Ukrainian capital’s main club journeyed around Europe after the Ukrainian Premier League was cancelled mid-season.

The final stop on their trek around the continent took Mircea Lucescu’s men to Brussels on Friday evening, when they were beaten 2-1 in their last warm-up match against Royal Antwerp, and they have since returned to their temporary home in Lodz.

Due to turn 77 later this month, Lucescu is one of the oldest managers still operating at the top level of European football, having spent his 12 most successful years at Dynamo’s arch-rivals Shakhtar Donetsk between 2004 and 2016.

The Romanian coach then made the switch to Kyiv in 2020, and the Bilo-Syni have benefited from his vast experience since: Lucescu has previously coached clubs such as Brescia and Inter, and is well regarded in Turkey, the home of his side’s latest opponents.

The former Galatasaray, Besiktas and Turkish national team manager added the treble with Dynamo to his glittering CV last season – taking him to a total of 36 club trophies. Given such a lack of competitive football, though, his team – who were eliminated in the group stage last year – now have a tough task on their hands.

After finishing second in Turkey’s top flight last season – picking up 73 points to leave them eight behind champions Trabzonspor – now Fenerbahce kick off a new season hoping to fare better under fresh management.

The Istanbul club are 19-time national champions, but they have not actually lifted the Super Lig trophy since 2014, as capital city rivals Galatasaray, Besiktas and Istanbul Basaksehir have instead dominated in recent years.

With new coach Jorge Jesus at the helm, Fener have been in fine form during this summer’s pre-season preparations, winning each of their last five matches – against Tiranda, Al Shamal, Partizan, Fehervar and Hull City.

Beating Shota Arveladze’s side 2-0 on Sunday was the final opportunity to tinker for the well-travelled Jesus, who wasted no time in cutting loose unwanted playmaker Mesut Ozil shortly after his arrival, and second-half goals from Arda Guler and Serdar Dursun secured another morale-boosting win.

The Turkish league season is due to begin for Fener with a home fixture against promoted Umraniyespor on August 6, but between now and then, the former Benfica boss will hope to book a place in the third round of Champions League qualifying – with the ultimate aim a first group stage spot since 2009.

Dynamo Kyiv form (all competitions):
Fenerbahce form (all competitions):

We say: Dynamo Kyiv 2-1 Fenerbahce
Though their preparation has been far from ideal, many of Dynamo’s key figures were together with Ukraine over the summer, and the unifying force of conflict at home should see them put in a relentless performance on Wednesday.

The reputation of Jorge Jesus is formidable for a reason, though, and Fener are likely to strike back at some stage; taking their opponents back to Istanbul within reach of a second-leg comeback.

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