FC Spartak Moskva and FC Dynamo Kyiv hope to revive memories of an "unforgettable derby" of yesteryear in the final round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.
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Although Dynamo coach Yuri Semin would look no further than the second leg of the tie against Drogheda United FC – a contest the Ukrainian side lead 2-1 going into next week's return on home soil – the Spartak camp could barely contain their excitement. "I'm very happy with the draw," said CEO Sergei Shavlo. "We have an unforgettable derby from Soviet times." The clubs were the most successful in the old USSR, Dynamo claiming a record 13 titles to Spartak's 12, although the Muscovites can take heart from their head-to-head record: played 119, won 59, lost 39.
"I am sure that this match will draw a lot of supporters," added Shavlo, whose club can expect to fill the 70,000-seat Luzhniki Stadium for the opening skirmish on 12/13 August. Dynamo's home fixture a fortnight later will fall victim to Ukraine's preparations for UEFA EURO 2012™. With their NSK Olimpiyskiy ground closed for reconstruction, the concluding leg will be played at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Stadium, a venue with a capacity of just 18,000. "The consensus is that starting at home is a disadvantage but I don't think that this is the case this time," said Shavlo "Dynamo will come to Moscow to play attacking football, and we will not sit back and defend in Kiev either. I think we're in for a couple of uncompromising matches. The chances are 50-50."
Dynamo coach Semin knows all about getting one over the red and whites having done so on numerous occasions during his time in charge of FC Lokomotiv Moskva. The Russian said: "For starters we need to beat Drogheda. Once we do that we'll be thinking of our next opponents." Club president Ihor Surkis was more forthright, saying: "We could have faced the likes of Juventus, [FC] Barcelona or Liverpool [FC] – all of whom are stronger than Spartak these days. The away game will be played on artificial turf which could be a problem for us."
The sides also have previous in the UEFA Champions League. Drawn together in Group B, Dynamo came back from 2-0 down to win the home game 3-2 before going down 1-0 in Moscow. On that occasion both teams were eliminated; this time one will claim significantly more than bragging rights with a spot in the lucrative group stage awaiting the winners.