It has not been a happy start to life in UEFA Europa League Group G for FC Dynamo Kyiv, with one point from two matchdays, but an upturn in domestic form raises hopes ahead of Thursday's potentially crucial visit of FC Thun.
While a win for the Swiss challengers would leave Dynamo five points off second place at least at the group's halfway stage, the club's four-game unbeaten run in the Ukrainian Premier League – including a massive 9-1 success over FC Metalurh Donetsk – has boosted morale for the double-header with Urs Fischer's team. Bilo-Syni coach Oleh Blokhin reckons his side are more than capable if they perform to their potential.
"We are aware of the importance of this game," said the ex-Ukraine boss, whose charges are already five points adrift of pacesetters KRC Genk. "I think Thun are on the same level as Genk and Rapid Wien. They are a good team with some quality players in midfield and attack, but nevertheless the result will depend firstly on how we play, not them." Indeed, despite Dynamo's sluggish start, the 60-year-old remains positive about Dynamo's chances of progress. "Yes, we didn't win our two games but we are still optimistic. We have very good players although they need time to become a team – our five new players still have to adapt."
Midfielder Andriy Yarmolenko accepts there is pressure but has faith that his side will advance to the knockout phase. "We understand that we have to change the situation," he said. "We are under big pressure but personally I do not feel it because I am confident we will go through."
For his part, Fischer refuses to be lulled into a false sense of security by Dynamo's lowly points tally. "We see Dynamo as favourites in this match and, despite not winning against Genk or Rapid, as favourites in the group," he said, with his men on three points so far. "Usually I ask my team to play to win against any opponent, but we are aware of Dynamo's quality. So if the game goes wrong we would be glad to get a draw. However, even to claim a point here we must play our best football."
A draw is not the target for Thun midfielder Dennis Hediger, however, who has just one target in mind – victory. "Our aim is three points. We want to leave Dynamo behind us in the table before the return fixture. We are trying to prepare with a positive mindset."