Chelsea seems to have turned a corner in recent weeks, and they will welcome Dynamo Kiev to Stamford Bridge hoping to claim a clear advantage ahead of the return leg in Ukraine in seven days.
The Blues clinched their place in the Round of 16 stage of the Europa League with a comfortable victory over Swedish outfit Malmo. Chelsea overcame freezing temperatures to claim a 2-1 win away from home; where Ross Barkley and Oliver Giroud goals were enough to put Maurizio Sarri’s side in complete control.
Giroud netted his sixth goal in seven Europa League appearances in the return leg to open the scoring at Stamford Bridge. Ross Barkley and Callum Hudson-Odoi put the cherry on top of the cake for the Blues as a routine 3-0 win meant a 5-1 aggregate win. The pressure on Sarri has lifted following devastating domestic defeats to the Manchester clubs. Back to back league wins against Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham combined with a positive display despite defeat against City in the League Cup final have reinstalled fans confidence in ‘Sarri-ball’. The race for the top four looks set to go down to the wire, so the Europa League could present the Blues with their best chance of Champions League football, and they will head into the first leg of the tie as most bookmakers favourites to win the competition.
Dynamo Kiev will be hoping to continue their unbeaten record since the restart to their season after the winter break. In the last round, they overcame Greek side Olympiacos. Their hard work was done in the away leg as they twice came from behind to gain a credible 2-2 draw. Ahmed Mahgoub and Gil Dias had put the Greek outfit ahead, but Kiev fought back. Vitaliy Buyalskyi equalised first, before a last gasp equaliser from Benjamin Verbic in the 89th minute.
The Kiev side professionally completed the job at the NSC Olimpiyskiy a week later, when they dominated the game. They eventually got their due rewards in the 30th minute when Spanish striker Fran Sol cooly slotted away following a swift move. The matchup against Chelsea will present a different challenge for Dynamo, and they will undoubtedly be coming up against a team of a much higher level than sides they have played previously this season. Should they have any hope of progressing to the next stage of the Europa League, they will need to get a positive result at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been dominant in the Europa League this season at Stamford Bridge and have won every game they have played there. Additionally, the Blues have scored at least three goals in their last three home fixtures in the competition. Meanwhile, Kiev have an excellent attacking record in the Europa League, but their defensive record is poor, as they have conceded nine goals in eight fixtures.
Oliver Giroud has been in fine form in the competition and would be a good bet to increase his goal tally. The six goals by the Frenchman makes him the second highest top scorer in the competition.
Chelsea to win and Oliver Giroud to score is 6/5 with Coral.
Head to Head
There has only ever been two previous meetings between the two sides, and they both came during the 2015-16 Champions League campaign. Dynamo Kiev gained a respectable 0-0 draw at home, before going on to lose 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea Team News
The Blues will be without Daniel Drinkwater, who remains out with a knee injury. Meanwhile, Davide Zappacosta and Gary Cahill are likely to be in contention.
Dynamo Kiev Team News
Benjamin Verbic will be unavailable for selection as he sits out a one-game suspension. Kiev has a striker crisis, as match winner from the last round Fran Sol will be missing through a shoulder injury and second choice striker Artem Biesiedin remains out with an Achilles injury.