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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Real Madrid, Dynamo Kiev Braced for Tough Rematch




Titleholder Real Madrid faces Dynamo Kiev in Wednesday's European Cup quarterfinal second leg with its season and reputation on the line.


Kiev is also braced for an all-out battle after earning a 1-1 draw in the first leg two weeks ago in Madrid.


Both sides have something to prove.


Real, 27 times Spanish champion, languishes in sixth place in its domestic league and has pinned all its hopes on a successful European campaign.


The team will face Kiev with renewed confidence after a steady improvement under new Welsh coach John Toshack and an easing of its injury worries.


Dynamo warmed up for Wednesday's clash with a comfortable 2-0 win over Metalurg Mariupol to extend its lead over second-placed Shakhtar Donetsk.


But while the perennial Ukrainian champion has met little resistance in its domestic league over the years, Dynamo has found success in Europe more elusive and collapsed at the same stage of this competition a year ago against Juventus under similiar circumstances.


It had held Juventus 1-1 in Turin in the first leg but crashed 4-1 in the return as Filippo Inzaghi struck a hat trick in front of the 100,000-strong partisan home crowd in Kiev.


Dynamo's veteran coach Valery Lobanovsky has done all he can to avoid a similar debacle this time.


Lobanovsky, who guided Kiev to European Cup Winners Cup triumphs in 1975 and 1986, persuaded Ukrainian soccer chiefs to allow Dynamo to change the dates of league matches leading up to the Real game.


A match against city rivals CSKA, scheduled for March 7, was postponed until June and the Metalurg game was brought forward two days to last Thursday to give the team extra rest.


Real's cause will be helped by the recovery from injury of first-choice center backs Fernando Hierro and Manuel Sanchis.


Shevchenko, who put Dynamo ahead in the first leg at the Bernabeu Stadium, led the charge against Metalurg and scored his 11th league goal of the season.


Shevchenko, tipped to move to AC Milan at the end of the season, has scored at least once in each of his last four games and is the league's leading marksman.


Lobanovsky, true to his old Soviet coaching methods, has closed the door to the media during practice. In Israel before the first leg he ordered two Spanish reporters and a photographer, whom he suspected of spying on his side, to be removed from the team training ground.