DÜSSELDORF – Inter are preparing to take to the pitch for the Europa League semi-final this evening at 21:00 CEST at the Düsseldorf Arena. Tonight’s opposition will be Luís Castro’s Shakhtar Donetsk. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the match:
FACTS AND FIGURES
This evening’s game is Inter’s eighth appearance in a UEFA Cup/Europa League semi-final – more than any other side, and it will be their 21st European semi-final. After finishing third in their group in the Champions League, Antonio Conte’s side have won all four matches they have subsequently played in the Europa League and this season, they have scored 106 goals in all competitions.
Inter are unbeaten against Ukrainian sides in eight matches, with five wins and three draws. In addition to their two-legged tie against Shakhtar in 2005, they have faced Dynamo Kyiv four times, coming out with two wins and two draws, and won both their matches against FC Dnipro.
Shakhtar Donetsk are the reigning Ukrainian champions. Luís Castro’s side won 26 of their 32 league matches this season, with four draws and two defeats. Meanwhile, they have scored a total of 80 goals and conceded 26. Junior Morales was their top scorer in the league this season and with Shakhtar Donetsk, he took part in seven goals (five goals, two assists), with all of those coming in knockout matches. Castro’s side are unbeaten in the Europa League this season: four wins and a draw, scoring an average of 2.8 goals a game.
Thanks to the goals scored in the semi-final against Bayer Leverkusen, Lukaku has become the first player in the history of the UEFA CUP/Europa League to score in nine consecutive matches, with the beginning of his run coming back in November 2014, during his time at Everton. The Belgian striker has had an active hand in 15 goals in his last nine Europa League matches (twelve goals and three assists).
ANTONIO CONTE'S THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH
"We have a great deal of respect for Shakhtar Donetsk because they’ve got some quality players. We’ve been preparing really well, and obviously this is the strongest side we’ve faced so far in the Europa League. We’ll approach the match with the utmost respect, but also with the desire to show that we are in the semi-final for a reason and that we deserve a place in the final."
SAMIR HANDANOVIC'S WORDS
“Shakhtar are a side with loads of quality, and they’ve been a force to be reckoned with in Europe for more than a decade, now. One need only look at their results and how they’ve been performing on the pitch to see what kind of match we have ahead of us – not to mention the individual talents they have at their disposal. They’re quick, play with purpose, and they’ve got a legendary keeper. We’ve got to raise our game.”
Polish referee Szymon Marciniak will be refereeing Inter vs. Shakhtar Donetsk. His assistants will be Paweł Sokolnicki and Tomasz Listkiewicz. The Fourth Official will be William Collum, from Scotland. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak will be refereeing Inter vs. Shakhtar Donetsk. Meanwhile, Polish officials Pawel Gil and Tomasz Kwiatkowski will be overseeing the VAR system.