Sevilla will be aiming to secure their third consecutive appearance in the Europa League final when they play host to Shakhtar Donetsk in the second leg of the semi-finals on Thursday evening.
UEFA Europa League
5 April 2016
Semi-finals, second leg
Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Venue: Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán
Referee: Björn Kuipers
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Sevilla 3 1 2 0
Shakhtar 3 0 2 1
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Sevilla
Shakhtar goalscorers: Marlos (23′), Stepanenko (35′)
Sevilla goalscorers: Vitolo (6′), K. Gameiro (82′ pen)
Players to watch:
For the hosts, Brazilian attacking midfielder Marlos appears to have filled the boots of Alex Teixeira, who departed the Ukrainian outfit for Chinese big-spenders Jiangsu Suning in the January transfer market.
Marlos, 27, scored the opening goal in the first-leg clash with Sevilla and also has seven goals to his name in the domestic league. Another player to watch is undoubtedly former Arsenal man and Croatia international Eduardo. The forward is the club’s top scorer in the Ukrainian Premier League, while he also has two goals in the Europa League.
Sevilla, meanwhile, will be counting on striker Kevin Gameiro to continue providing a potent threat up front, with the Frenchman currently the club’s leading marksman in the Europa League with five goals.
The performances of vice-captain Coke and fellow midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka are also likely to have a huge impact on the result of the decisive second-leg encounter.
Team form and manager quotes:
Shakhtar head into the second-leg tie off the back of a convincing 3-0 triumph over Ukrainian Premier League leaders Dynamo Kyiv, with the result seeing them move to within four points of their rivals in the standings.
The win extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to nine matches, while the have conceded just three goals and scored a whopping 20 goals in their last five games on home soil.
However, Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu is under no illusions to the threat posed by the four-time Europa League winners.
“Tomorrow the hardest fight awaits us,” he told reporters. “Sevilla do not have young players, they have experienced players who have been at a number of leading clubs.
“At the head of the team is a strong coach who studies the opponent and is very good at posing his game.
“Let’s see how the game will develop. The match will provide a lot of options so we will see how we will play.”
Sevilla, meanwhile, will be hoping to their 1-0 defeat to Espanyol on Sunday was nothing more than a minor blip as they look to finish off the job after claiming two crucial away goals in the first leg.
However, Unai Emery’s men have lost six of their last 10 fixtures in all competitions, a record that will undoubtedly be a major cause for concern for the club’s supporters and it’s coach.
And Emery is painfully aware that his side will have to produce a gritty performance if they are to progress to the final.
“If we win tomorrow we will have to suffer, we must be prepared to suffer,” Emery told reporters.
“Nobody gets things without having suffered before, but you grow by suffering from adversity and we are united as players and fans.”
Sevilla will face Shakhtar minus the services of Martin Krohn-Delhi, with the combative midfielder facing seven months on the sidelines with the serious knee injury suffered in the first-leg tie.
Skipper Jose Antonio Reyes, meanwhile, is also ruled out with a case of appendicitis.
For Shakhtar, Marcio Azevedo (knee) misses out, while Dentinho and Oleksandr Hladkyy (both unspecified) are rated doubtful.