Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte believes that Shakhtar Donetsk will be their toughest Europa League opponents so far.
The Serie A side will be playing the Ukrainians who defeated Basel 4-1 in en route to the last four. They got demoted to the European clubs’ second competition like Inter after emerging third in their respective Champions League groups.
- Inter Milan is playing in the semi-final of a European competition for the first time since winning the 2009-10 Champions League.
- Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk have only met once. That was in the 2005-06 Champions League qualifying phase, with Inter winning 3-1 on aggregate across two legs.
- Since dropping out of the Champions League, Inter have won all four of their Europa League games this season – they last won five consecutive matches in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) between December 2009 and April 2010.
- Shakhtar Donetsk is aiming for another European final, which is their second ever. The last ended in success when they won the 2008-09 Uefa against Werder Bremen.
- Romelu Lukaku is the first player in Uefa Cup/Europa League history to score in nine consecutive matches – a run stretching back to November 2014 with Everton.
- Junior Moraes has been directly involved in seven goals in seven Europa League appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk (five goals, two assists), with all coming in the knockout phase.
The clash presents an opportunity for Conte, who has never won a European trophy as a manager. Inter had reached the last four after ousting Getafe and Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively this month, while Shakhtar beat Wolfsburg and Basel convincingly.
Our aim is to reach Europa League final- Antonio Conte
“We have a lot of respect for Shakhtar. They have established themselves over the years. They are the strongest opponents we have faced so far in our Europa League path.”
“We want to show that there’s a reason that we are in the semi-finals, and our aim is to reach the final.”
Also speaking, Inter’s defender, Ashley Young, said they are not looking at Sevilla but Shakhtar. for now.
“Our concentration is on Shakhtar. That’s the next game, that’s what we’re thinking about. That’s where all our focus is,” the former United player said.
Inter, who finished the Serie A three points behind the eventual champions, Juventus is seeking its first trophy since 2010-11. The Nerazzurri are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions while Shakhtar, who is Ukrainian champions Shakhtar is also unbeaten in 11 games.
Shakhtar coach calm ahead of Inter test
Meanwhile, Shakhtar.’s coach, Luis Castro, said he remains “absolutely calm about the match.
“We know that there is a fight with a very strong team, and that is not surprising. We are prepared for this.
“There is a very difficult game ahead, but Inter also, I think, will face difficulties. Calmness is our DNA and I am sure that we are fully prepared for the match,” the Portuguese boss said.