Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Club Focus- Tavriya Simferopol

This week's visitors to Kyiv will be Tavriya who take on Dynamo on Saturday evening.

At the moment Tavriya are celebrating their 50th anniversary, although they were formed from the old club Lokomotiv. Their nickname translates as the Crimeans, which is pretty apt, as the autonomous republic only has 2 other professional teams, lower division Igro Servis and Krimteplytsa, who were formed only in 1999, and despite starting the season well in the 1st League, have now faded from being promotion contenders.

Tavriya hold the record of being the first club to win the Ukrainian League in 1992, and remain the only club to have won it other than Shakhtar and Dynamo. After this initial victory in the league they have faltered, though, usuallly finishing mid-table. Last season they finished 5th, which is just outside the positions needed to compete in Europe. This was their highest finish since 1993-4, when they also finished in 5th. They look set to repeat this feet this season, as they seem secure in 5th, but too far behind Dnipro and Metalist to catch them for 4th place.

In the past Tavriya were one of these teams who came to Kyiv in search of a 0-0 draw, rather than pushing forward and risking a hammering. In fact I remember a guest visiting a match between Dynamo v Tavriya that ended in a turgid 0-0 draw with no real chances created. He was very polite, but as a Spurs fan who was used to watching Napoli, I doubt he was impressed in the slightest.

Things have changed since then, and Tavriya seem to play with a much more positive attitude. This season I have seen them beat Arsenal 1-0, and lose to Dynamo 3-0. The latter of these games was in the 1/4 final of the cup, they had beaten Dynamo 2-0 in Simferopol, and after this many of the Dynamo players realised if they didn't get a result they would be given the boot, hence the more concentrated effort (although 5 of the Dynamo players in this game have since been shipped out).

They are capable of causing an upset though, they recently beat Shakhtar 3-2, and Dynamo can be shaken, although they were lucky that Shakhtar also slipped up this weekend they won't want to risk losing more points at home, so it might be Tavriya who come out on the attack.

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