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 first is the match between the lone remaining Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv, who has the pleasure of hosting English club Chelsea. The game kicks off from NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on 14 March 2019 at 5:55pm GMT (1:55pm EST).
What Happened in Leg 1
Last Thursday, the clubs met at Stamford Bridge, and the home club had no issues taking advantage. Pedro got the Blues on the board first, netting a goal in the 17th minute on some give-and-go action from Olivier Giroud. It was the start of a dominant match from Chelsea, though they would not score again until the second half, when Willian scored in the 65th minute. Finally, Callum Hudson-Odoi capped the scoring for the home team in the final minute of regular time, setting the final score at 3-0.
Chelsea had nearly as many goals as the Ukrainians had shots on goal, with Chelsea leading in overall shots 12 to four. They kept possession for 59% of the match, and had 50% nearly more passes (648 to 437), with a higher pass completion percentage as well (90% to 84%). Truly a dominant showing from the Premier League side.
What the Experts are Saying
The dominant victory have moved Chelsea into the favored position in Europa League, both for advancement to the quarterfinal and the entire tournament. They are now a 98% chance to advance to the next round (per FiveThirtyEight), and a 20% favorite to win the entire tournament (tied with Napoli for the moment). In this individual match, they are given a 44% chance of winning outright, along with a 27% chance of drawing.
What We’re Thinking
Obviously, Dynamo Kyiv has long odds to advance, let alone reach the final in Baku. I don’t see a path to victory for them, even though I don’t expect Chelsea to send their top players to Ukraine. There have been some wild comebacks over in the Champions League in the past few weeks, but those are some of the top clubs in the world. Dynamo Kyiv fits that description, but there is a quality difference between them and clubs like Chelsea.
Dynamo is the underdog in the betting markets as well (not just FiveThirtyEight simulations), and they could very well win this second leg. But they need to score a big win in order to advance on aggregate. I don’t see that happening.
Until next time…