MX23RW : Saturday, February 16 22:30:20
Apr 28, 2016 at 8.05pm UK at ​Donbass Arena
ShakhtarShakhtar Donetsk
Marlos (23'), Stepanenko (36')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Vitolo (6'), Gameiro (82' pen.)

Preview: Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Sevilla

Sports Mole peers ahead to Thursday night's Europa League semi-final first leg between Shakhtar Donetsk and reigning champions Sevilla.

Sevilla are just three matches away from winning the Europa League for the third year in a row.

Their semi-final opponents this time around are Shakhtar Donetsk, a Ukrainian outfit on fire in Europe's secondary competition.


Darijo Srna celebrates scoring during the Europa League quarter-final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga on April 14, 2016© AFP

Mircea Lucescu's side struggled in the Champions League in a group with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, only securing their consolation spot in the Europa League because of their superior head-to-head record against Swedish minnows Malmo.

However, since then, they have arguably been the most impressive side in the Europa League knockout stages.

A goalless draw at home to Schalke 04 wasn't the best start, but the Miners have won five in a row since then to knock out the Germans (3-0 on aggregate), Anderlecht (4-1) and Braga (6-1).

Last time out against the Portuguese side they managed to sneak an away win they perhaps did not deserve but then roared back to form at home with a 4-0 thumping that saw captain Darijo Srna score on a landmark night.

The Croatian full-back made his 486th Shakhtar appearance to break a club record held by Mikhail Sokolovskiy for almost three decades.

Since booking their last-four spot, the second-placed Miners have managed only five points out of a possible nine in the Ukrainian league to fall seven behind leaders Dynamo Kiev.

This is the first time that Shakhtar have featured in the semi-finals since they won the last-ever edition of the UEFA Cup in 2009.

Recent Europa League form: DWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWDD


Timothee Kolodziejczak celebrates scoring with teammates during the Europa League quarter-final between Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla on April 7, 2016© Getty Images

Like Shakhtar, Sevilla parachuted into the Europa League from the Champions League and they have become the first club to contest the Europa League semi-finals for three seasons running.

Should they go on to win the trophy again, the Rojiblanocs would become the first team since Bayern Munich (1974-76) to win three straight UEFA competitions.

Molde and Basel were their first two scalps in the knockouts before a Spanish showdown with Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals.

Unai Emery's side won 2-1 at Athletic in the first leg for their first away win in Europe all season but then lost their 11-match Europa League winning run at home, losing by the same scoreline.

No further goals arrived in extra time, so penalties were required and it was Sevilla who came out on top to keep alive their dreams of European glory once again.

There is a chance that Sevilla will not qualify for Europe via their league position as they are seventh in Spain. Before Sunday's 2-0 home win over Real Betis, Emery's men had lost four and won none of their previous five league games.

Recent Europa League form: WLDWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WLLDLW

Team News

Yaroslav Rakitskiy celebrates scoring with Darijo Srna during the Europa League quarter-final between Braga and Shakhtar Donetsk on April 7, 2016© Getty Images

Shakhtar defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy, who scored in the first leg against Braga, is back from suspension and available for selection on Thursday.

Fred remains suspended, while Marcio Azevedo is the only player out injured for the home side.

Daniel Carrico is likely to come in at centre-back for Sevilla with Adil Rami struggling with a groin injury.

Jose Antonio Reyes, Benoit Tremoulinas and Vitolo are also out injured.

Sevilla's Ukrainian winger Yevhen Konoplyanka joined from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk after their defeat in last season's Europa League final. He did not score in 13 league and cup games against Shakhtar during his time at Dnipro.

Shakhtar possible starting lineup:
Pyatov; Srna, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Malyshev, Stepanenko; Marlos, Kovalenko, Taison; Ferreyra

Sevilla possible starting lineup:
Soria; Mariano, Carrico, Kolodziejczak, Escudero; N'Zonzi, Krychowiak; Konoplyanka, Banega, Krohn-Dehli; Gameiro

Head To Head

The only previous meeting between these two was in the 2007 round of 16 and it was a memorable tie for Sevilla.

After a 2-2 draw in Spain, Sevilla keeper Andres Palop scored at the death to make it 2-2 in the return leg before Ernesto Chevanton won it for the visitors in extra time.

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We say: Shakhtar 1-1 Sevilla

Shakhtar tend to get stronger as the tie goes on, so maybe expect a tense first leg here before next week's second leg in Seville.

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Who will win Thursday's first leg, Shakhtar or Sevilla?

Jurgen Klopp loses his shit during the Europa League quarter-final between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund on April 14, 2016
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