In our final individual match preview, we take a look at yet another matchup that saw a draw in the first leg. This time, however, the clubs at least scored, so Dynamo Kyiv enters hosting duties with some away goals to play with should they draw with Olympiacos once again. Ahh, the benefits of hosting the second leg!
The match kicks off from NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday, 21 February at 8:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).
What Happened in Leg 1
This was another match that got the “best of the rest” treatment in advance. Had we known it was going to be one of the more exciting matches of Leg 1, we probably would have looked at it a bit more closely.
Olympiacos, the home team but nominal underdog, opened scoring in the ninth minute on a goal by Ahmed Hassan and held that slim head for nearly 20 minutes. Vitaliy Buyalskyi equalized in the 27th minute, and it looked like it was going to be quite the barnburner in Greece. But after Olympiacos retook the lead in the 40th minute on a goal by Gil Dias, they looked to be in control of the match.
It wasn’t until the last minute of regulation that the Ukrainians found their second equalizer, scoring in the 89th minute on a less-than-pretty effort from Benjamin Verbič, but a goal is a goal, and they managed to hold onto the draw through three minutes of added time. More importantly, especially for their odds of advancing, was the two away goal, that could come in handy should the clubs remain tied on aggregate after Leg 2.
What the Experts are Saying
As a benefit of hosting Leg 2, as well as those all-important away goals in hand, Kyiv actually saw their odds of advancing increase after Leg 1. FiveThirtyEight simulations now have them advancing in 67% of results, an increase in 23% from their pre-matchup results. This was one of the larger swings after Leg 1, and also saw their odds increase for the rounds beyond this one.
At the individual match level, FiveThirtyEight gives both clubs about the same chance to outright win in Leg 2 – Olympiacos holds the edge 37% to 35% – but Kyiv is the overall favorite to advance because of the 28% chance this ends in a draw. Unless it is another 2-2 draw (giving Olympiacos the same two away goals) or an even bigger draw (which would put through the Greek club for having more away goals), Kyiv should advance.
What We’re Thinking
Olympiacos scored first last week, and managed to score first again after Kyiv equalized. Granted, they couldn’t hold on to either of those leads, and were playing in front of a friendly crowd, so I don’t expect that to happen again.
Because of that, Kyiv is probably going to pull this out. They’ve lost only four times at home all season across all competitions – by a total of six goals – and should have a raucous home crowd offering support. The only question that remains will be if that means that they will be the only Ukrainian club in the Round of 16.
Until next time…