Although not in the UEFA Champions League, Everton are now England’s last representative in a continental cup competition this season.
Despite continuing troubles in the Eastern capital city, the game will be played in the NSK Olimpiyskiy stadium in Kiev. Everton arrive with a 2-1 lead from the first leg, but the tie is far from over and Dynamo Kyiv’s home record is so good, they have to still be favourites to advance to the next round.
The situation is exactly the same as Kyiv faced last round after they were beaten 2-1 by French side Guingamp at the Stade Roudourou. Kyiv were unfortunate to leave the Breton coast with only one away goal to show for their efforts. They took the lead, just like they did at Goodison Park, but they would have two players sent off and conceded twice to give Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side a 2-1 lead.
Guingamp went into that game playing their normal 4-4-2 formation, but they were out-worked and outnumbered in midfield. They conceded possession to the Ukrainian side and ultimately the home side’s domination was too much to stop.
Serhiy Rebrov’s side have only lost once in 25 games in Ukraine, and although they don’t have to lose to be eliminated, they will be confident of turning the tie around.
"Obviously we will have to play differently,” said the former Tottenham striker on UEFA's official website. “We have to consider the mistakes we made in Liverpool. We have to play more aggressively, more confidently.”
On the opposite touchline, Martinez is fully aware of the home strength of his opponents:
“Of course we respect Dynamo, they are a strong team who haven't lost at home [in any competition] this season. But we are ready for them as we are other big clubs in Europe. We haven't come here for a draw – we're proud to represent England in Europe."
The mistake Guingamp made was to give Kyiv too many chances from set-pieces and the big, strong Ukrainian side overpowered them and finish the game with a 3-1 victory.
Guingamp held on for 31 minutes, but goals either side of half-time did the damage, then Oleg Husev’s 75th minute penalty finished the tie. If Everton can keep Kyiv out for the first 45 minutes, they will have a great chance to progress.
There is no doubt that the Merseyside club are a much stronger prospect than Guingamp, but that doesn’t mask how good Kyiv are at home. Thursday night will be a huge test for Everton, but if they defend well, they have every chance to progress.