Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine) vs. Girondins de Bordeaux (France)
Having been put in a very strong Champions League group A with PSG, Porto, and Dynamo Zagreb, Oleg Blokhin’s men don’t seem to be one of the toughest teams in the competition. However, they managed to qualify for the Europa League by managing to hold a strong Porto side and beating Zagreb once. Although they struggled in Group A and dropped in UEFA rankings, they’re not entirely a weak side, because of the reasons I’ve mentioned above.
Francis Gillot & co. on the other hand, have been sensational in the competition, losing only once to Newcastle and finishing top of group D with 13 points. Despite losing one of their top goalscorers to the same club that beat them mercilessly (Yoan Gouffran to Newcastle), they still have a strong, fresh squad on their side.
I’m not even going to lie; Kyiv’s chances of beating Bordeaux are very slim, and all the statistics go against a Kyiv win, but in one of the greatest leagues in the world, you never really know! From Oleh Blokhin’s side, one of the key players is definitely Nigerian international, Ideye Brown. Although not as successful in number of goals as his fellow strikers in European competitions this season, Ideye has shown a lot of effectiveness on the pitch. Andriy Yarmolenko is also another one to look out for from the Ukrainian side. Yaye Taiwo (on-loan from Milan) could also be a challenge for Bordeaux if he’s as difficult to get past as he should be in the defense.
From Monsieur Gillot’s side, Jussie Vieira’s departure on-loan to Al Wasl was somewhat a big blow (seeing as he was their top-scorer in the Europa League this season); but a blow they’ll manage to survive thanks to the likes of Chiek Diabaté and David Beillon. Having Sané in their defense could also be a great asset.
My prediction for the first leg of this match to be played in Kyiv is a comfortable win for Bordeaux. For the second leg of this match to be played in Bordeaux, I predict a draw, and for Bordeaux to progress to the round of 16.
1st Leg: Dynamo Kyiv 0-2 Girondins de Bordeaux
2nd Leg: Girondins de Bordeaux 1-1 Dynamo Kyiv
VFB Stuttgart (Germany) vs. KRC Genk (Belgium)
Bruno Labaddia and his men go into the round of 32 from the 8 points they managed to bag in the group stages. They finished fairly well; second in their group behind Steaua (whom they’d managed to beat very harshly once) and having lost only twice from their 6 group-stage matches.
Genk, finishing top of their group in class and without a loss in the group-stages, will go into the round of 32 with a lot of confidence that they can beat their opposition. With excellent form in the Jupiler Pro League (as compared to Stuttgart in the Bundesliga; 24 points from leaders Anderlecht as compared to 26 points from leaders Bayern Munich), Mr. Been’s men won’t be weak opponents! Although domestic leagues can be very different from European Leagues (clearly demonstrated by the current English Champions Manchester City), I think that the kind of play and form these two clubs have demonstrated in their own leagues will be what we will see in the Europa League this season.
Genks’ captain, Jelle Vossen has been absolutely brilliant for them this season, having scored 14 goals in 22 matches and with 5 assists domestically (JPL). Jelle was also one of Genk’s top scorers in the group-stages; scoring 2 goals in 5 matches. Benjamin de Ceulaer, however, is the one I think who stood out for all of us in his Europa League flight. That with a team that has a great strike-force in European action like Genk, a strong defense is certainly needed.
Vedad Ibišević has also been brilliant for Stuttgart in domestic competitions, having scored 10 goals in 17 games, with 3 assists. Cacau, of the Stuttgart veterans, only played two games for his team in the Europa League, but is another efficient player. Shinji Okazaki will also have Genk players on edge.
My prediction for the first leg of this game to be played in Stuttgart would be a narrow win for the German side. For the second leg of this game to be played in Genk, my prediction would be another win for Stuttgart by the same goal margin. That’s right, I’m going with this prediction in view of Stuttgart’s record against Belgian clubs and Genk’s very poor form against German clubs. Not to take away anything from Belgian football (I could be wrong), but we all know the kind of football Germans play! Should be a very exciting match!
1st Leg: VFB Stuttgart 2-1 KRC Genk
2nd Leg: KRC Genk 1-2 VFB Stuttgart
Written by Ange Marline