Dynamo Kiev are not quite the team of three years ago, when they held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw in Kiev and narrowly lost 2-1 on a picture-perfect Willian free kick at Stamford Bridge in the 2015-16 Champions League group stages. Then again, neither are Chelsea the same either — and that’s probably a good thing considering we would finish a shocking 10th that season.
Only three players remain at Dynamo who played in those games — midfielders Sydorchuk (who’s the captain these days), Buyalskyi, and Harmash — but the experience of those Champions League nights continue to resonate and give hope. Club president Ihor Surkis, speaking a couple weeks ago following the Round of 16 draw, is certainly optimistic enough.
“We’ve got a very famous opponent. It’s interesting to see what our worth is opposing such a team as Chelsea. We always aim to perform in the Champions League. Well, Chelsea are the Champions League level team. We’re making headway. [...] It’s very important to keep the intrigue alive till the game in Kyiv. If we do that, we’ll have chances to outplay Chelsea. I believe in our guys and I think they’re also optimistic.”
Dynamo have gotten a fair bit younger and don’t have as much name recognition as back then (when the likes of Yarmolenko, Shovkovsky, Gusev, or Vida wore the shirt), but the president believes this can be added motivation as the new generation look to serve notice of their talents as well.
“There are no invincible opponents. We have a good young team. I’m sure our guys will do their best to show what they’re capable of. On top of everything else, it’s a great commercial for them. If they want to play in top leagues one day, they must demonstrate worthy football now.
“Chelsea have a great lineup, so we don’t know who’ll perform against us. First of all we must focus on our play. I’m optimistic about forthcoming games and I hope fans believe in our team too.”
-Ihor Surkis; source: FC Dynamo Kiev
No one’s invincible, certainly not in knockout competitions. Just yesterday, a young Ajax team absolutely destroyed back-to-back-to-back Champions League winners Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, 4-1, for example. (No, that’s not a typo.)
Chelsea are in better form than just a few weeks ago, when the draw was made, but Dynamo have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Chelsea will need to maintain the current momentum and performance levels to set up well for the second leg away next week and to then advance to the quarterfinals.