Thursday, 28 April 2016

Shaktar Donetsk v Sevilla - Preview

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Sevilla will continue their bid for a third consecutive Europa League title when they play Shakhtar Donetsk in Thursday's semi-final first leg.

The Spanish side, winners in 2014 and 2015, like Shakhtar entered this year's competition after being knocked out at the Champions League group stage.

The match will be staged in Lviv, where Shakhtar have had to play home games.

They have been unable to play in their home ground in Donetsk due to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Lviv lies nearly 800km to the west of Donetsk.

Uefa Cup winners in 2009, Shakhtar saw domestic rivals Dynamo Kiev claim their Ukrainian league title on Sunday.

They last met Sevilla in 2007, when the Spanish side's goalkeeper scored an injury-time equaliser to send their Uefa Cup last-16 tie into extra time.

Sevilla went on to win their second successive title and now have the most Europa League titles in history with four in total.

Mircea Lucescu
It is very important to maintain a high performance level. Shakhtar have reached it by lifting the UEFA Cup [in 2009] and now we are in the Europa League semi-finals. Other eastern teams like CSKA [Moskva], Zenit, Galatasaray all won the UEFA Cup but none managed a semi-final after it, none of them repeated their success. I'm very proud of my players and of the team.

We've shown some clips of the two games [against Sevilla in the 2007 UEFA Cup round of 16] to the players. We had ten seconds left! Sevilla went on to win the UEFA Cup. I think they just got lucky. Let's hope the luck they had then now passes to us; everything in life balances itself out.

Unai Emery, Sevilla coach
We're enjoying every moment, we have so much energy right now. Shakhtar's record in the last ten years is spectacular but they have lost important players along the way. We've got to the semi-finals three years in a row and are thinking only of getting through.

We're in great form at the moment. Our players' eyes are open, they are excited, and I think the team is united. We are well aware that we have an opportunity to make history.

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