After having drawn Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine in the last 32 of the Europa League, we though we'd compile together a fact file on the team. Despite being one f the lesser known teams left in the knockout tournament, they certainly aren't to be underestimated.
FK Metalist Kharkiv or Metalist was formed in 1925 in Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv when a local locomotive construction facility agreed to provide funding for a football club. It was promoted for the first time to the Soviet Top League in 1960. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Metalist became one of the original members of the Ukrainian domestic league in 1992.
Since then, the closest they have come to winning a trophy came in 1992 when they lost the Ukrainian Cup to Chornomorets Odessa. Their best finish in the Ukrainian Premier League (Founded in 1996) is third which they have achieved an incredible six years in a row going back to 2006-07. Last year, Metalist was defeated in the Quarter-Finals of the Europa League by Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon.
Metalist currently play in the Oblast Sports Complex or ‘Metalist’ Stadium which was renovated for the 2012 UEFA European Champions. It hosted three games in Group B or ‘Group of Death’, all of which involved the Netherlands. It has a capacity of just over 40,000 seats.
The highly experienced Myron Markevych is the current manager of Metalist. He holds the record for coaching the most matches in the Ukrainian Premier League. He managed the Ukrainian National Team for a brief period in 2010.
Metalist currently stand fourth in the domestic league after 18 matches, a full 15 points behind leaders Shakhtar Donetsk. In the Europa League, Metalist finished first in Group K, which also included Bayer Leverkusen, Rosenborg BK and SK Rapid Wien. They will face Newcastle United in the first knockout round of the competition on February 14th at St. James’ Park and February 21st in the Ukraine.
Like domestic rival Shakhtar Donetsk, Metalist has a strong Brazilian presence on the team. Forward Taison has been one of the Ukrainian league’s brightest stars since arriving from Internacional in 2010 in a deal reported by be over 16 million Euros. He has been heavily linked with Chelsea as a replacement for Fernando Torres and may leave in January.
Another Brazilian MF Cleiton Xavier, has notched seven goals in the Europa Cup so far this season with another seven in the domestic league. Argentinian striker Jonathan Cristaldo currently leads the team in scoring with 8 goals in the Ukrainian Premier League and is regarded as an attractive prospect.