It’s Shakhtar’s BIGGEST GAME IN FOUR YEARS!

Following last Tuesday’s 4-1 demolition of Basel in Gelsenkirchen, Shakhtar earned the right to take part in their first European semi final since 15/16!

Tonight’s one legged UEL clash v Inter takes place in Düsseldorf

UEL SEMI FINAL

Inter Milan v Shakhtar Donetsk

(20:00🇬🇧22:00🇺🇦)

For the 1st time in this Europa League campaign (Shakhtar entered at the R32) The Miners go into their last 4 tie v Inter as the underdogs

Two met before in 05/06 UCL Q (1-1 A / 0-2 H) Inter Won (3-1 agg)

Shakhtar impressed last week as they blew Basel away

Moraes was a real nuisance

He’s having a prolific season is Shakhtar’s key (only) forward (3 in last 2)

The Brazilian born contingent all shone w Taison, Patrick & Dodo also scoring)

Supplemented by a 🇺🇦 defensive spine

Mykola Matvienko expected to continue his role at LB in place of injured Ismaily

Khocholava back from his red card suspension – Bondar likely to return to bench as a result despite impressing v Basel

Full strength selection available for Luís Castro – Wolfsburg XI expected

Shakhtar have been ruthless since dropping into the competition from the UCL

v Benfica (5-4 agg)
v Wolfsburg (5-2 agg)
v Basel (4-1)

Unbeaten ‘away’

Fluid & speedy attacks played on the break have been primary goal origins

If allowed to control tempo – Inter will have issues

Marcos Antonio has been a revelation this season, especially post lockdown

He’s the key between midfield & attack with Marlos & Taison providing technical support to Moraes – supplementing his goalscoring burden

Alan Patrick dictates the pace & tempo whilst Stepanenko enforces

One Italian journalist was quoted in the build up to this:

‘It has to be said that they have a goalkeeper who could concede 12 goals if Inter took 12 shots’

A rather harsh assessment of veteran Andriy Pyatov who may have occasional lapses but on the whole is a quality GK

Pyatov did win the UEFA Cup back in 09 after all as well

It’s Shakhtar’s first semi final since 15/16 where they faced current SD man Konoplyanka’s Sevilla & lost on agg (3-1 A / 2-2 H)

Hence a 1 legged tie should aide SD & help keep Lukaku & co at bay for less time

Kryvtsov & Khocholava/Bondar’ll need to be at the top of their game to keep Lukaku quiet but fortunately Shakhtar’s physical defensive base should assist them

Stepanenko deploys as a sweeper at times, when required to bolster the defence in instance of full backs going forward

Shakhtar face a very similar task to that of Dnipro back in 14/15

Not playing their matches at ‘home’ stadium (Kyiv / Germany)

They need to defeat Serie A opposition (Napoli / Inter)

Sevilla awaits in the final…

Dnipro made the final on that occasion also as underdogs…

Shakhtar can take lessons from Dnipro and from their own UEFA Cup successes in 09 to spur themselves into the final tonight

Inter are a great side – but aren’t that intimidating for SD who regularly play UCL

The underdog card allows SD to take the pressure off of themselves

If anything the strange neutral venue conditions & empty stadiums are something SD are rather used to after years of internal exile in Ukraine due to Donetsk’s ongoing occupation by Russian forces

Over 1 leg – anything can happen & Shakhtar are more than capable of an upset!

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