Well this is going to be tasty, isn’t it? An absolutely brilliant football match might well have taken place last week between Dundee United and Dynamo Moscow, but few people were taking about a pulsating 2-2 draw afterwards.
No, most of the attention was on the crowd violence that marred an exhilarating Europa League first-leg qualifier and as the clubs meet again for the second leg on Tuesday, the violence provides a backdrop to what is already a barmy tie.
Few people (myself included) gave the SPL side a chance against the Russians, but after a slow start the Tannadice outfit were well worthy of a draw and it would have been so much better had Moscow not scored what could prove to be a vital injury-time equaliser through Aleksandr Kokorin.
It was heart-breaking for Dundee United boss Peter Houston, but it didn’t do much good for his opposite number, either: Dynamo coach Sergei Silkin resigned after a 4-0 home defeat to city rivals Spartak at the weekend, which was Dynamo’s third defeat in three Russian Premier League matches this season, taking full responsibility for the White-Blues’ poor start to the campaign.
Last week’s match was wide open and with Houston encouraged with how well United attacked, he will be confident of exploiting a vulnerable Moscow back line. His side failed to score only twice in 19 away trips last season.
So Moscow go into the second leg with two away goals and a clear advantage but without a permanent manager (reserve team coach Dmitri Khokhlov has taken the reins on a caretaker basis), while Dundee United go into the lion’s den of Arena Khimki as the quietly confident underdogs.
So how do bwin price it up? Despite the upheaval at Moscow, they are still the strong odds-on favourites to win the match in 90 minutes at 7/20, with United the 25/4 outsiders and the draw at 7/2.
There has been talk coming from the Dundee United camp that Moscow underestimated their Scottish opponents and I have to admit that I did as well. United look pretty well equipped to go strongly in the SPL this season and their 3-0 hammering of Hibernian at the weekend, coming on the back of their first-leg clash and all the emotions that came with it, was impressive in the extreme.
Houston says that his side can win in Moscow, while his players have been making similar noises in the press and while I am loathe to underestimate their chances once more, travelling to Russia has proved difficult for sides far more accomplished than the Terrors in the past and therefore I am not falling over myself to have a go on United.
But similarly, something is obviously not quite right at Moscow and it is hard to say how the players will react to Silkin’s departure, although you would imagine that a few of them will be pleased, while the others will be thinking they have a point to prove.
HAving said that, I’m not backing a team that hasn’t won a game this season and have lost three league games without scoring a goal at odds of 7/20 – absolutely no chance, even if, man for man, Moscow have better players and more talent.
So instead, I’ll take the 19/20 that both teams score. Last week’s match was wide open and with Houston encouraged with how well United attacked, he will be confident of exploiting a vulnerable Moscow back line. His side failed to score only twice in 19 away trips last season and I think they can get an away goal that could make the home side a bit nervous.
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