'We don’t fear Chelsea' – Dynamo Kiev star Duelund bullish ahead of Europa League tie

The Denmark Under-21 attacker believes that his Ukrainian side has the potential to trouble the Premier League outfit

Dynamo Kiev ace Mikkel Duelund is confident that his side can provide a stern test for Chelsea in the Europa League.

The sides will meet in a last-16 tie on successive Thursdays and the Dane is confident that the Ukrainian outfit can trouble Maurizio Sarri’s side.

Dynamo qualified top of Group K ahead of Rennes, Astana and Jablonec before defeating Olympiacos, and they are hopeful the Blues can be added to their list of scalps.

“We don’t fear Chelsea – but of course we have a lot of respect,” the attacker, who turned down the chance to move to Liverpool in order to play first-team football in Denmark, told Goal. “Chelsea have struggled a bit, maybe sometimes needed a bit more structure in their style this season – even though their players have fantastic individual quality. Of course, it is a difficult opponent for us – as they would be for anybody.

“There is a great self-confidence in Dynamo – a great top-club culture and winning mentality. It is a huge club used to winning titles and with the DNA of always playing in Europe – both Champions League and Europa League. Dynamo has a great history in Europe and of course we want to write a new chapter.

“We have a good squad, and we know our own quality. We know how to work hard – and we know how to work together. That is probably our best weapon against Chelsea – our teamwork.”

He has previous when it comes to upsetting Premier League giants and is hoping that history can be repeated.

“When I played with FC Midtjylland, we beat Manchester United at home in a Europe League game, and Dynamo is at a much higher level than I was used to in Denmark. So I have a lot of expectations and hopes on behalf of my new club,” he explained.

“I know from beating United that anything can happen on the pitch. But I also have a lot of respect for a great opponent like Chelsea.

“We have a few problems with injuries – like Fran Sol and myself plus a ban for our really important offensive player Benjamin Verbic, but if we get a good result at Stamford Bridge, our chances will be very much alive back in Kyiv with more than 70,000 in our amazing stadium.”

On a personal basis, Duelund is optimistic about his prospects of being fit for the second leg, having been back in full training ahead of schedule.

“I have been working hard to be back for the Chelsea games – and the second leg is my realistic goal,” the leading assist maker in Under-21 European Championship qualifying said. “I had a double ankle fracture in our Europa League match in December, but my recovery has been fantastic, and I am back more than a month quicker than expected. I have been training with the team for the last week, so I am close.

“It has been a huge motivation to get back to face Chelsea because games like this in the knockout phase of the Europa League are what I was dreaming of when I moved to Dynamo from FC Midtjylland last summer.

“I was 20, and I had played 100 games already at the Danish top level, and so I needed a great club like Dynamo to step up to another level than back home in Denmark. I am at an early stage of my career, where it is all about learning and developing myself to become the player that I believe I can be.”

After a first campaign in Ukraine disrupted by niggling issues, the Dane is seeking a grand finale to the season.

“After my injury I can’t wait to be back on the pitch for what looks like an incredible final phase of the season. We are second in the league and play for the Ukrainian championship, we face Chelsea in the Europa League – and I am looking so much forward to the U-21 Euros this summer with Denmark,” he said. 

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