FC Dynamo Moscow friendlies

Preview: Shakhtar Donetsk vs Dynamo Moscow

10:57 PMAleks Vee

As the Champions and Europa Leagues once again begin to overshadow the rest of the footballing world, exciting games, especially friendlies, are few and far between. On Saturday, February 23rd, fans across the globe will be treated to an exceptional match-up between two formidable opponents whose last encounter lies buried deep in the recent past. Champions League contenders and reigning champions of Ukraine Shakhtar Donetsk will play against the oldest Russian club, FC Dynamo Moscow. Whenever Shakhtar and Dynamo are mentioned in the same sentence, most people think of the Dynamo from Kiev, the Pitmen's historic rivals. However, the modern era has set the stage for the Moscovites to play a challenging and entertaining 90 minutes against the team from Donetsk. The ever-successful Ukrainians have been under the management of Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu for nearly 9 years, stockpiling 6 championship wins, 4 national Cups, 4 Super Cups, and a UEFA Cup. The club reached the Champions League quarter finals for the first time in 2011, but lost 6-1 to Barcelona. Nevertheless, last season saw the club win a domestic treble. The Pitmen finished the first half of the current season at the top of the table, leaving a 13-point gap that nearly guarantees the team a championship win.

Shakhtar's efforts are currently focused on the 2012-13 CL's round of 16. The team was minutes away from winning the first leg against Dortmund but fell short of a victory just 3 minutes before the final whistle thanks to a header by Mats Hummels.

Dynamo Moscow fell short of a Europa League spell last August in a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Stuttgart. Yet the team's failure to advance to the EL group stage was incomparable to their domestic failures. A humiliating 4-0 loss to Spartak in the oldest Russian derby set the stage for a lingering presence in last place, with only one win in the first six games of the season. The club's downward spiral sparked interest from international press, some of which went so far as to say that the team faces relegation. The Blue and Whites then underwent a transformation as many of the club's personnel left amid speculation of corruption, and a new manager whose legendary playing career with the English Blues took to rebuilding the Russian club. In less than half of the regular season, Dan Petrescu elevated the team halfway up the table, leaving Dynamo just 1 win away from tying with the 4th and 5th place teams. The most important victory, however, came in late November, when the Moscovites emerged victorious in the oldest Russian derby, vengefully grabbing a 5-1 win over their city rivals. An important facet of the game went completely overlooked by the rest of the world: it was the first time Dynamo had scored 5 goals against Spartak in 64 years.

Shakhtar and Dynamo have never faced each other in a European competition, but the friendly evokes a new set of expectations for both teams as the Ukraine and Russian Premier Leagues await the start of what looks to be the most compelling spring tourney of the 21st century.

Check back for updates on line-up predictions and the time of the match.

International Club Friendly - Saturday, February 23, 2013
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Dynamo Moscow
Time: 9:00 AM (ET)
Where to watch: FCDM Official YouTube Channel
Expected Line-Ups: TBA

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