Going on what Alan Pardew said when he was interviewed about the draw, he seems to know buggerall about them. When probed on how much he know about Metalist, he replied:
“Not much really”
So, Alan, you may find this helpful!
Currently fourth in the Ukrainian Premier Liga (behind Shakhtar Donetsk, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Dynamo Kyiv), they finished third last season as they have for the last six seasons, always behind the big two Ukrainian giants, Dynamo Kyiv and Shaktar Donetsk.
Roughly, they are strong side who are more or less on the same kind of level as our toughest opponents in the group stage, Girondins de Bordeaux, who we beat 3-0 at home and lost to 2-0 at their place.
Metalist are one of the oldest teams in the Ukraine. Though they were only formed in 1925, that IS old over there. Dynamo Kyiv were only formed in 1927 and Shaktar Donetsk even later in 1936. However, unlike their younger rivals who have both won many, many trophies, they only have one solitary Soviet Cup to show for all their efforts, which was won in 1988. The club has definitely been on the up for them however since they were taken over by the rather sinister looking policeman turned billionaire oligarch, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, who is one of the richest men in the Ukraine. Hence, the club now in a very good position to upset the traditional duopoly at the top of Ukrainian football.
They are in the last 32 of the Europa League thanks to topping their Group K table with 13 points, the same as second placed side Bayer Leverkusen. Below, you can see how their table ended in the final reckoning, along with our Group D table to refresh your memories.
Group K table.
Thanks to Yaroslavsky’s significant investment in the club, they have a strong compliment of South American players from Brazil and Argentina to add to the Ulrainian talent at the club, including one or two fairly experienced Argentianian Internationals such as 27 year old José Sosa (17 full International caps for Argentina) and Juan Manuel Torres (also 27 with 14 full International caps).
Their top goalscorers so far this season are Argentinian striker Jonathan Cristaldo with a total of 12 goals in 24 appearences (including 3 in 8 in the Europa League). Secondly there is dangerous Brazilian attacking midfielder Cleiton Xavier, whao has also scored 12 goals (in 25 appearences) in all competitions. In the Europa League though, he has scored 5 goals in only 7 appearences. He has also provided 5 assists so far for Metalist too, though their leading goalmakers so far are the above mentioned Argentinian winger, José Sosa, and Brazilian winger Marlos, who both have 7 assists.
Perhaps their star player though is another Brazilian, 24 year old left winger, Taison, who Metalist signed for a mighty €16.3 million (about £13.3 million at current exchange rates) in 2010. He was also linked with Chelsea and is their Ben Arfa, ie a winger who can also play as a forward with great control and the ability to dribble for fun whilst both making and scoring goals. Since he was signed from Brazilian side Internacional, he has scored 20 goals in 83 appearences, providing no fewer than 35 assists, which is alot. This season so far, he has scored 4 goals in 20 appearences with 6 assists. At the bottom you can see three videos of the exceptional young Brazilian maestro in action.
Metalist’s Head Coach.
Last but not least of course there is Metalist’s Head Coach, the highly experienced 61-year-old, Myron Markevych. Markevych has managed a fair few Ukrainian clubs, and one or two Russian ones too. He is also an ex manager of the Ukrainian national side, a position he held between two stints managing Metalist, the second stint being the current one.
Below is what “fourfourtwo” magazine had to say about Markevych in February 2012:
“The other key figure central to Metalist’s success is their manager, Myron Markevych. He has spent time shadowing Fabio Capello, Carlo Ancelotti and Christophe Daum and their expertise has clearly rubbed off on him. An erudite and intelligent man fluent in several languages, Markevych is arguably the best Ukrainian coach around at the moment with over 500 Premier League matches under his belt.
“The 61-year-old has Metalist playing an aesthetically pleasing, fluid style of football with more than a hint of South American flair to it, much like Shakhtar. Five Argentinians started the match in Austria with another on the bench, while Metalist also have a quintet of Brazilians on their books.”
Metalist play at the 40,003 capacity “Metalist Oblast Sports Complex,” or to give it it’s more usual name, simply the “Metallist Stadium.” Originally built in 1925-6, it has undergone four large renovations, and is hardly recognizable from the original stadium. The most extensive for probably for the 2012 European Championships, where a whole new stand and roof were constructed. As you can see from the photo above, it seems as if it would be very nice, if it wasn’t one of those awful football stadiums with a running track around the pitch which ruins everything!
Apologies for rounding up this profile on a rather sour note, but racism is one thing which could be a big problem in this game. Ukraine is one of the least civilised countries in Europe in this respect, so don’t be surprised if there are monkey chants and so on whenever player like Ba, Cisse, Tiote or one of the other Africans are on the ball when we play the second leg, as well as missiles and so on. I would also recommend that any Toon fans from ethnic minorities DO NOT travel to this rather primitive and unenlightened part of the world either. In the video of Metalist Kharkiv fans below, you can see why.
Videos of top Metalist signing, Taison.
UEFA video about Taison and Metalist Kharkiv.
Taison Barcellos Freda – The genius from Kharkiv.
Taison vs Van Basten.