The Round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League unfolds over the next two Thursdays, so before the action kicks off around Europe on Thursday afternoon, we thought we would preview the eight matchups of the round.
Up next, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between English Premier League club Chelsea and the lone remaining Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv. Their leg one match kicks off from Stamford Bridge in London, England on Thursday 7 March at 8:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).
What Happened in the Round of 32
Chelsea faced off against Malmö FF in the Round of 32 and had little trouble with the Swedish club, winning 2-1 in Sweden and 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. There was some grumbling from the Chelsea supporters after a scoreless first half during leg 2, but that receded once the Blues scored three second-half goals to clinch advancement without much trouble. Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud each scored twice during the round (once in each leg) with Callum Hudson-Odoi scoring the fifth goal.
It was a little less of a foregone conclusion for Dynamo Kyiv after leg one of their Round of 32 match against Greek club Olympiacos. They nearly allowed Olympiacos to walk away victors in the first match, before scoring in the 89th minute to draw 2-2. Those two goals in Greece gave them an advantage heading into leg 2, and the Ukrainians didn’t upset their home fans, winning 1-0 and advancing 3-2 on aggregate.
What the Experts are Saying
Dynamo Kyiv were a little unlucky in this draw, as they saw their chances of advancing to the quarterfinals decline by 17% once it was determined that they would face Chelsea. According to FiveThirtyEight simulations, Chelsea is currently favored to advance 70% of the time, and are now the co-favorites to win the entire tournament (14%; tied with Sevilla).
The best hope for Kyiv in this matchup is to draw, or even lose a close match while scoring. They have the benefit of hosting the second leg, and as we saw from their Round of 32 results, having nearly 50,000 supporters can be a boon for success. But if they do not score in England, let alone lose big, the “away goals scored” tiebreaker is lost.
What We’re Thinking
That said, FiveThirtyEight is giving the Blues a 61% chance at winning leg 1 outright, and they can give Kyiv a steep hill to climb by doing just that. However, they have struggled a bit in domestic play as of late, with only a 3-1-3 record – including an embarrassing 6-0 loss at Manchester City – since the beginning of 2019. Still, they are the co-favorites in the tournament, and I don’t think Dynamo Kyiv will give them much problem.
Until next time…