"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow."
Churchill's famous speech is quoted on this blog today, because of the list of cities in bold. Notice, that Kiev is not mentioned. This shows how the Ukraine has grown as a nation and how Kiev has established* itself as a city.
* - In reality, this is complete rubbish and Kiev, along with Rome and Istanbul, was essentially one of the only three cities in Europe 1000 years ago. However, Churchill's oversight let me quote him and make it look like we were going to play somewhere really obscure. Right, enough of this waffle...
Playing away in Eastern Europe is difficult with opposition fans often affecting the referee, and the cold, affecting our players. 2 years ago in Moscow, we were denied a blatant penalty, partly because there was a highly partisan crowd. Last year, we struggled to beat a mediocre Bucharest side. What this shows, is that playing away in Eastern Europe is difficult at the best of times - a workmanlike 1-0 would be an excellent result, and I can't see us creating 10 clear-cut chances, even if this Kiev side is not of the same calibre as the one they had 10 years ago.
That said, where we need to accrue our points in the group stage is clear: it seems to me that it is imperative we win all our home games, because although Porto have just sold their best player, away to Porto, or the games against Fenerbahce/Dinamo, are tricky encounters, where 5 points from those 3 games would be a decent result. However, the way we've been playing as of late, I would expect a victory tomorrow.
---I know it's not entirely on the same track but it is necessary to have some schadenfreude at Tottenham's failings. After all, year after year, their fans crow about how they will take our Champions League place. Yet, despite spending over £100m on their team over the last few years they sit bottom of the table. For a good laugh read this
Finally, a joke:
What's the difference between T*ttenham and the Star of David?
Answer: The Star of David has 6 points.
---Kudos to all the gooners out in Kiev, it's an expensive trip and I'm sure they'll support the team well.
I have discovered how fun it is to make popcorn. Others must try...