Mircea Lucescu's Shakhtar are busy flying the flag for Ukraine in the UEFA Cup along with FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, which may explain their 1-1 home draw with FC Stal Alchevsk on 18 September, but they remain unbeaten after eleven Premier League rounds.
The same is true of Dynamo, who have recovered confidence under stand-in coach Anatoly Demjanenko. A 7-1 win against FC Volyn Lutsk was a clear indication that Leonid Buryak's replacement has brought some fire to Dynamo, but president Grigoriy Surkis is still looking for a permanent successor.
Oleg Blokhin has been widely tipped for the job after the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but Surkis has yet to find a short-term solution. "I have to say, if it wasn't for public pressure, I would have given Buryak more time," he said. "I am not sure I made the right decision when I released him."
Buryak remains at the club in a new role as sporting director, and it was under his aegis that the club signed 19-year-old Moldovan midfielder Dan Pisla this month. The teenager has played for FC Buiucan Chisinau, FC Unisport-Auto Chisinau and AFC Rapid Bucuresti.
The best striker in Moldova last season, FC Nistru Otaci's Catalin Licioiu, has also moved to Ukraine, joining third-from-bottom FC Vorskla Poltava. Meanwhile, third-top FC Chornomorets Odesa have landed former Ukraine midfielder Artem Yashkin, who has been playing in south-east Asia.
Dnipro provide one of the success stories of recent weeks, progressing to the UEFA Cup group stage at Scottish club Hibernian FC's expense while picking up points in the league. However, they face a tough test in their next outing, against Dynamo in Dnipropetrovsk.
Meanwhile, Volyn have shown signs of recovery after an appalling run in September. In the space of three games, they lost 4-0 at FC Metalurh Donetsk, 3-0 at home to Chornomorets and then 7-1 at Dynamo. A 3-0 win in their latest match against FC Metalist Kharkhiv seems to have stopped the rot.
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