Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk entertain defending champions Sevilla at the Arena Lviv in their first-leg encounter of the UEFA Europa League semifinal match on Thursday. The Spanish side is gunning for its third consecutive Europa League trophy this season.
Shakhtar come into the game at the back of a massive 6-1 win over two legs against Braga in the Europa League quaterfinal. In contrast, Sevilla had to fight hard to just edge past La Liga opponents Athletic Bilbao to reach the last four of the Europa League.
The semifinal will be a different ball game altogether, however. While the away side will be expected to show their experience in the game, one can expect the home side, who saw domestic rivals Dynamo Kiev claim their Ukrainian league title on Sunday, play to the best of their abilities to bring the confidence back in the side.
Shakhtar became the first club in independent Ukraine to lift the the UEFA Cup (earlier name for the Europa League) back in 2009. Seven years later, they see themselves in the semifinals of another European competition. Mircea Lucescu, the coach of the Ukrainian side, is one happy man.
"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," Lucescu told UEFA. "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."
Sevilla coach Unai Emery knows the importance of the game for Shakhtar Donetsk, but having said that, the Spanish coach has said that they will try every way possible to defend the Europa League title.
"We're enjoying every moment, we have so much energy right now," Emery said. "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."
Where to watch live
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sevilla is scheduled to kick-off at 9:05 p.m. CET (12:35 a.m. IST, 8:05 p.m. GMT, 4:05 p.m. ET), April 28.
Viewers in India can catch the game on Ten 1, while the streaming option of the game is also available on tensports.com.
People in Ukraine can tune into Belarus 2 and Futbol 1. The live streaming is also available on Oll.tv. People in Spain can catch the game on beIN Sports Spain, while online streaming is available on beIN Sports Connect Spain.