Dynamo Kiev v Fiorentina
Thursday April 16, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 1
The conversation about who will go on to win the Europa League has generally been focused upon Wolfsburg, Napoli and the holders Sevilla, but I suspect both Dynamo Kiev and Fiorentina could give any of those sides a run for their money. This will be a high-quality clash between two clubs that have sparkled at various stages in this tournament.
Dynamo followed a similar pattern in both of their knockout ties. They lost the first leg away from home against both Guingamp and Everton, but then blew their opponents away in Ukraine. Indeed, the Ukrainian league leaders are unbeaten at home this term, they have won all five of their Europa League home matches, and they haven’t failed to score at the Olympic Stadium since November.
Fiorentina were a touch fortunate to edge out Spurs in the last 32, as we’ll never know what would have happened if Roberto Soldado hadn’t produced one of the worst finishes in world football this season, but they battered Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the last 16. Unfortunately for coach Vincenzo Montella, his players seem to have dipped at the worst possible time.
La Viola were on course for the final of the Coppa Italia after beating their bitter rivals Juventus in Turin in the first leg of the semi-final, but they then crumbled at home to a weakened Juve side, losing 3-0. To make matters worse, the men from Florence were then battered 3-0 at Napoli in Serie A, seemingly sinking their hopes of a top-three finish.
Fiorentina are without suspended defender Jose Basanta, and experienced midfielder David Pizarro is struggling. Dynamo finally welcome back Younes Belhanda from suspension, and he’ll add creativity to an attacking unit that already boasts Jeremain Lens, Artem Kravets and the outstanding Andriy Yarmolenko. Opta tell us that Yarmolenko has more assists (seven) than anyone in the Europa League. If holding midfielder Miguel Veloso fails a fitness test, that may expose a defence that is prone to occasional errors.
Fiorentina are unbeaten in their last 11 away games in the Europa League, but that record will be put under huge strain against an excellent side in a febrile atmosphere. Yes in the Both Teams To Score market is a tempting option at [1.94], as both teams have firepower, but are far from watertight defensively. However, my gut is telling me that Dynamo will build themselves a first-leg lead, even though it could be a narrow one.
Back Dynamo Kiev to win at [2.4]
2014/15 Europa League P/L (1pt per bet)
Points Staked: 77
Points Returned: 81.28
P/L: +4.28 points