Ukraine’s top flight football has resumed today. Shakhtar Donetsk is currently playing Metalist 1925 in Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, as Russia continues to invade the country. 

This fixture, which is the first match in the Ukrainian Premier League’s history since December mid-December, was already poignant. But the date gives this incredible restart even greater significance. Today marks the Day of the National Flag in Ukraine.  

Tomorrow marks six months since the’special military operations’ of Vladimir Putin began. But it’s also Ukrainian Independence Day. It is a fitting moment to declare that Ukraine won’t surrender. 

SportsmailHere’s the scoop on the Ukrainian Premier League return and what you can expect. 

The players of Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 line up at Kyiv's Olympic Stadium

At Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, the players from Shakhtar Donetsk (Metalist 1925) line up.

Shakhtar captain Taras Stepanenko (R) battles for the ball with Yaroslav Martynyuk (L)

Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar Captain) takes on Yaroslav Marynyuk, (L).

Why is the Ukrainian Premier League back? 

Imagine playing in an armed conflict zone football team. Shakhtar Donetsk of Kharkiv and Metalist 1925 from Kharkiv came from cities trying to save their existence. 

Three points are very important in the context of families breaking apart and lives being lost. 

Throughout the six-months of conflict, Ukraine has been a beacon of hope. In the face of Russian aggression, resuming top flight is an act of resistance 

According to The Times, legendary Ukrainian striker Andriy Schevchenko stated that he has been working in Ukraine with President’s charity for rebuilding. 

It gives us hope that life will continue after war.

Players and match officials were draped in Ukrainian flags while the national anthem played

Match officials and players were draped in Ukrainian flags as the National Anthem was played. 

No fans will be in attendance at matches because of the risk of bombs and missile strikes

Because of the possibility of missile and bomb strikes, no fans will attend matches.

UPL football players believe that football has the power to bring light to dark moments. They hope to lift the spirits of Ukraine and remind the world that Ukraine’s not just a battlefield. 

Igor Jovicevic, Shakhtar Manager, stated that this is their job and they see it as professionalism. He also said, “This is our responsibility. We want to demonstrate the world that Ukraine’s life does not end, but goes on.”

“Football has the ability to bring emotions to the entire country, as well as people who are fighting for us all.

Andriy Pavelko, president of Ukraine Football Federation, said that he had spoken to Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the importance football has in distracting people.

“We discussed how football might help us think about the future.

Shakhtar boss Igor Jovicevic says they can 'show the world that life in Ukraine does not stop'

Igor Jovicevic, Shakhtar’s boss, says that they are able to’show the rest of the world that Ukraine is not dead’

How many adaptations did it take?  

It is not surprising that this season in Ukraine will be different than normal. 

First, there will not be any fans at the matches due to missile and bomb strikes. 

Supporters will still be able to watch their team though, as Setanta Sports have agreed a £13.4million deal for the television rights to Ukrainian Premier League games for the next three seasons. 

Viewers around the world will also be able to tune in, with at least four matches to be shown live on the broadcaster’s linear channels in each round of fixtures and two shown live on its YouTube channel.  

Shakhtar's players warm up before their first league fixture back against Metalist 1925

Shakhtar’s team warm up in preparation for their first league match against Metalist 1925

All of the matches will be played in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, its surrounding region and two western provinces. 

Every stadium must be equipped with bomb shelters to ensure that all match officials and players can escape from danger when the sirens go off. It is very likely that matches in Ukraine will stop because this is an everyday occurrence.

This is not the best for players. They will need to get warm again, even if it takes awhile for all to clear.  

Shakhtar captain Taras stepanenko, said that it will be tough if it takes more than an hour. “Maybe they could set up bicycles (in the shelters).

At every fixture, military officials will be present. The referee will decide whether or not to delay the match if an air siren is heard for longer than an hour.

Which teams or players are involved in this? 

The Ukrainian Premier League has retained its 16-team format, but have had to replace two teams from last season – Desna Chernihiv and FC Mariupol – as their cities and stadiums have been affected most heavily by the war. 

Metalist Kharkiv (now Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih) will take their place. These were the top two teams from the previous season’s second-tier league before the league was suspended.

Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar are likely to battle it out again for the title, although both leagues have already lost nearly all of their international players. 

FIFA has ruled in June that Ukrainian foreign coaches and players can be suspended from their clubs’ contracts until June 2023 due to Russia’s invasion. 

The matches will all be held in Kyiv and its environs, as well as two western provinces.

This has not gone down well with clubs and Shakhtar have demanded that they receive €50million (£43million) worth of damages from the governing body for lost transfer fees. 

This means that for now, teams have to rely upon homegrown talent and young names from their academies. 

Shakhtar’s roster has consisted of an elite group of Brazilian football players over many years. However, they all left the country as free agents or went on loan. 

The only one who remains is right-back Lucas Taylor – on loan from Greek side PAOK – who is one of just two foreign players in Shakhtar’s squad for today’s game against Metalist 1925, along with Croatian midfielder Neven Durasek.