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By Greg Demetriou
FC Dynamo Kyiv will take a giant step towards the UEFA Champions League first knockout round if they overcome AS Roma at the Valery Lobanovskiy stadium on Tuesday night.
In own hands
One of three Group B teams on seven points, Dynamo know a win against Roma and another success at Bayer 04 Leverkusen on 8 December would guarantee progress. Even so, should they lose against the eliminated Italian visitors and Leverkusen fall at Real Madrid CF, then Josef Szabo's team could still go through with just a draw on Matchday 6.
Dynamo are eager to return to winning ways after taking just one point from their double-header against Madrid. However, Roma will be out to erase the memory of September's group stage opener when they trailed 1-0 at home to Dynamo before the match was abandoned at half-time and subsequently awarded as a 3-0 victory to the Ukrainian side.
Szabo said: "Roma are very serious opponents with a fine coach [Luigi Del Neri] and he has a number of talented players. He has also had a difficult task as Roma were in disarray just a few months ago and even though the club's results are still unsatisfactory, the team is beginning to produce quality football."
So are Dynamo. They won 4-0 against FC Volyn Lutsk in the Ukrainian Cup on Friday to seal a 6-1 aggregate success. Brazilian defender Rodolfo missed out with flu but should be back to face Roma along with Yuriy Dmytrulin, who is fit again after a long-term knee injury.
Dynamo might be at full strength but it is a different story for Roma, who are without the suspended Daniele De Rossi and Christian Panucci while forwards Francesco Totti and Vincenzo Montella have not travelled because of a family bereavement and flu respectively. Also absent, as Roma bid to keep their slim UEFA Cup hopes alive, are the injured Mancini, Philippe Mexes and Cristian Chivu.
Concentration will be key for Dynamo, with Szabo aware the Roma replacements will be eager to make an impression. "We will take them seriously as it is dangerous to underestimate your opponents before a game.
We have to respect our opponents." The weather could also be a factor in the Ukrainian capital, with Szabo taking every step to prepare his team, including evening training.
He said: "I know the weather will be harsh, however the pitch should be in good condition as it has been heated. We must go out and get all three points regardless of anything else." Szabo was particularly keen to get the basics right. "I want my team to score more and to concede less," he added.
Roma have not been doing either particularly well, with only a late Montella strike earning them a 1-1 home draw against Leverkusen on Matchday 4. After two straight Serie A defeats, their latest setback was a 2-1 home loss to AC Siena in the first leg of their Italian Cup second-round tie on Friday. One positive was that forward Antonio Cassano, newly restored to the side after a dispute with the coach, was made captain for the first time.
Trying to remain upbeat, Del Neri said: "It's a difficult situation but
I think we just need a bit of luck to change our mentality and the whole environment around us. We are already out of the Champions League but a win would do wonders to our morale."
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