Dynamo Kyiv had a disappointing end to 2019. After being unceremoniously dumped out of the Europa League by Chelsea with an 8-0 aggregate scoreline, they were then unable to bridge the 11point gap between themselves and eventual Ukrainian Premier League winners Shakhtar Donetsk.
It wasn’t a disastrous season by any sense though as academy product, Viktor Tsygankov began to fulfill the potential he had promised for so long. This tactical analysis and scout report will focus on the left-footed winger, and how he fits into the tactics employed by Kyiv.
It was quite the season for the young Ukrainian. He won player of the month for both December and April and was awarded the 2018 Ukrainian player of the year award. Previous winners of this award are Andriy Yarmolenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka, and of course, Andriy Shevchenko. In the 96 years this award has been in existence, Tsygankov’s win was the 68th time a Kyiv player had won the honour.
Tsygankov finished only one goal behind Junior Moraes in the race for the Ukrainian Premier League Golden Boot and provided 16 assists in all competitions.
Up to this point, the winger has been capped 15 times for Ukraine and has already made 97 first-team appearances for Dynamo Kyiv, despite being only 21 years old. He has also captained the side on several occasions.
Tsygankov presides over the majority, if not all, of set pieces when he is on the pitch. Last season half of his total assists came from a free-kick or corner. In fact, 17 of his 31 career assists have come from a dead ball situation.
Two of his goals came directly from free-kicks in the 18/19 season, and five assists came from free-kicks too. His free-kick against Karpaty last season, where he registered his second career hattrick (interestingly both against Karpaty), was a goal which would sit at the top of most players’ highlight reels.
He shows great composure for such a young player and has comprehensively proven he is as calm as anyone from 12 yards out. Tsygankov has scored 10 of his career goals from the penalty spot, without missing one.
The young Ukrainian has proven over the previous two seasons what a threat he is inside the 18-yard box. To come only one goal shy of the domestic league golden boot is an impressive feat for a right-winger. It is the strides he has made in his shooting from distance that has elevated his goal scoring statistics.
We can see from looking at his shooting graphs from the past two seasons, how much he has improved as a threat from outside the box. A respectable 40% of his shots from this area last season were on target, and he scored 5 of them.
He is taking more shots per game which suggests he is seeing more of the ball, as well as becoming more confident as a finisher. In the 18/19 campaign, he registered 2.45 shots per game compared to last season’s 2.03. However, although he took more shots per game he registered slightly fewer shots on target per 90 this season. It’s a credit to his improvement in his finishing that he scored 6 more goals this season. His total for the season was more than 8 goals higher than his XG.
An intelligent player, Tsygankov likes to play off of the opposition centre-back and full-back. As a winger, he plays very narrow and takes positions close to the centre-forward. Kyiv’s approach of high positioned wing-backs, allows him to do this. We can see an example of this below against Lazio, as Tsygankov plays on the right centre-back. As the ball is played over to the far post he is able to drift into the 6-yard box unmarked, to score.
He has a habit of drifting off of the defender and finding space, often moving as late as possible to exploit the half-space between the full-back and centre-back. There is an analysis of this below where he leaves the run late to split the Luxembourg defence before slotting home from close range. He was particularly effective at this in the 17/18 season, scoring 6 goals within the 6-yard box.
Tsygankov reads the game well and has made a habit out of anticipating mistakes from opponents, but also his teammates. He scored back to back goals last season against Vorskla and Jablonec where he was able to pounce on his forward missing a shot, to pick up the scraps and score.
When out of position Tsygankov frequently occupies the half-spaces between midfield and defence. Again he plays very narrow and is therefore very hard to pick up. By taking these spaces he is giving the wing-back the chance to receive the ball over the opposing fullback, should the defender get too close to him.
Regardless of whether Tsygankov receives the ball in these positions or not, he is still going to attack the same space. If he receives the ball he will drive inside at the back four. If he doesn’t receive the ball he will turn inside and look to receive it in a similar area.
When Tsygankov receives the ball, he likes to carry the ball forward at speed, linking up with the number 9 for a quick one-two, or look for the well-timed through ball, as the forward runs behind the centre-back. Below is a progression of the picture above, where he has turned and received the ball from the forward.
Due to his notable pace, defenders are always wary of him attacking at pace and simply knocking the ball past them, which he does frequently. This plan of attack creates similar opportunities to the one above, where defenders gravitate their focus solely towards him when he is running at them. Rather than the one-two, this presents Tsygankov with the chance to slide the ball into the open and awaiting forward.
Tsygankov’s stats would suggest he is an all-out attacking player. This would be a reasonable assumption seeing that he contributed towards 39 goals for club and country this season. However, the Kyiv faithful love him for his determination and hard work. He is often seen tracking back past the backline to follow an opposition attacker in an attempt to win possession.
Just as the Kyiv full-backs are expected to push forward in attack, the wingers are expected to work back defensively. He engages in nearly 5 defensive duels per game and makes just shy of 3 interceptions per game. This shows he doesn’t shy away from his defensive duties.
He is a combative player and presses well, recovering the ball from over 50% of his 3.78 attempts per 90 in the opposition half. He also wins a respectable third of his aerial duels.
Areas for improvement
After a barnstorming 18/19 season, big clubs will no doubt be looking at Tsygankov. If he moves to a stronger league he will have to become less predictable. Last season he registered only one goal and one assist with his right foot. Out of his 44 career goals, only 4 have come with his weaker foot. Playing predominantly on the right side, this makes it easier to predict what he’s going to do when he receives the ball. Although it’s a credit to his pace and the quality of his left foot that he continues to be so productive.
It’s interesting that only 1 of his 16 assists in all competitions last season came from a cross in open play. This is despite his many assists from freekicks and corners. The winger averages only 2.13 crosses a game, with a 30% accuracy, per 90 minutes. Kyiv’s left-winger, Sidcley Ferreira Pereira, also averages only 2.34 crosses per game, albeit with a 40% accuracy. Benjamin Verbič averages less than 1 cross per 90. Clearly, Kyiv’s system isn’t built around crossing. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if Tysgankov’s crossing develops over the next few seasons and whether this will further increase his assist tally.
With him still plying his trade in the Ukrainian Premier League it’s tough to tell what Tsygankov’s ceiling is. He is quick, unselfish, and a ruthless finisher; with plenty of time on his side.
It remains to be seen whether potential suitors from the big European leagues come in for him this summer. If they do it will be interesting to see whether he can translate this form against tougher opponents on a weekly basis.
What’s not up for debate is that he will not come cheap in an ever-inflated market. Two seasons ago Kyiv sold Andriy Yarmolenko for 25 million Euros to Borussia Dortmund. Yarmolenko was 27 at the time and hadn’t posted the figures that his younger compatriot has this past season.
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