Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk: Can Inter Milan reach first European final for 10 years?

Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk, Monday, 8pm. Follow the build-up, action and fallout on the Sky Sports website and app with our live blog

Inter Milan will set up a first European final in 10 years if they find a way past Shakhtar Donetsk on Monday night.

Inter boss Antonio Conte, who won the UEFA Cup as a player with Juventus in 1993, will see his own fate as the club's manager decided at the end of their Europa League campaign - and admitted Shakhtar, who themselves won the competition in 2008, are the strongest side his team has faced so far in the competition.

He said: "We have a lot or respect for Shakhtar. We are facing a team who have established themselves over the years and we are well prepared.

Antonio Conte is yet to win a European trophy in his managerial career
Image: Antonio Conte is yet to win a European trophy in his managerial career

"[Shakhtar] are the strongest opponents we have faced so far in our Europa League path, but we want to show that there's a reason that we are in the semi-finals, and our aim is to reach the final."

Despite that, Inter will arguably go into the game as pre-match favourites, having finished just one point behind Juventus in the Serie A title race, and have a constellation of stars in their team, but Shakhtar are no slouches themselves in European competition as they battle it out for a place in Friday's final.

Shakhtar were the runaway winners of the Ukrainian Premier League - already booking their place in the Champions League group stages - and have netted seven goals in their two Europa League games of the current tournament.

They will take the attack to Inter and they have a gem in Junior Moraes, who scored six goals in Europe this season and was the Ukrainian Premier League's top goalscorer with 20 goals. He also notched up eight league assists, two behind the league leader and fellow team-mate Taison (10).

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Junior Moraes celebrates scoring for Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel
Image: Junior Moraes celebrates scoring for Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel

Speaking about the challenge Shakhtar will offer Inter, Young added: "If pushed, you tend not to want to play teams that just sit back and defend. You want to play teams that like attacking football, that basically you go toe-to-toe with, and whoever plays well on that day comes out on top. I think it's going to be a very good game.

"We've seen videos of them; we saw them against Basel the other day, and they are a good team. They wouldn't be in the semi-final if they weren't. So everyone is relishing the opportunity to play against them, to test ourselves again.We'll see what happens come the end of the 90 minutes."

Castro: Shakhtar 'relaxed' ahead of semi-final

Shakhtar Donetsk manager Luis Castro says his side are facing a difficult task against Inter, but they are 'serene' ahead of the game.

"We are very relaxed," he said. "It is another game ahead of us. We need to play this game with the same serious mentality as we want to play in the final. We know in front of us we are playing against a very difficult side with a lot of quality.

Shakhtar will hope their Brazilian contingent sparkles against Inter Milan
Image: Shakhtar will hope their Brazilian contingent sparkles against Inter Milan

"It is very difficult to understand their football dynamics both in attack and in defence. We have prepared in the best possible way to be able to beat them. We know it is going to be a very difficult game for us, but it is going to be a difficult match for Inter too.

"Our serenity ahead of the match it is part of our way to prepare the games and it is part of our identity as a team. "

Team news

Alexis Sanchez - who recently completed a permanent switch to Inter after a spell on loan from Manchester United - is expected to sit out the last-four encounter with a thigh injury. Matias Vecino also remains absent as he recovers from knee surgery.

As for Shakhtar, Maksym Malyshev, Vladyslav Vakula and Ismaily could all be missing.

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  • Inter Milan will appear in the semi-final of a European competition for the first time since the 2009/10 in the UEFA Champions League (winning the competition that year), whilst this is the eighth time the Italian side have reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup/ Europa League - more than any other side.
  • The only previous meeting between Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk was in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League qualifying phase, with Inter winning 3-1 on aggregate across two legs.
  • Since dropping out of the UEFA Champions League, Inter have won all four of their UEFA Europa League games this season - they last won five consecutive matches in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) between December 2009 - April 2010 (a run of six) on their way to the UEFA Champions League final.
  • Shakhtar Donetsk are looking to reach only their second ever UEFA European final, last achieving that feat in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup, knocking out Dynamo Kiev in the semi-final and beating Werder Bremen in the final.
  • In the quarter final, Inter's Romelu Lukaku became the first player in UEFA Cup/ Europa League history to score in nine consecutive matches a run stretching back to November 2014 with Everton. The Belgian striker has been involved in 15 goals in his last nine UEFA Europa League matches (12 goals & 3 assists).
  • Junior Moraes has been directly involved in seven goals in seven UEFA Europa League appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk (5 goals, 2 assists), with all of these games coming in the knockout phase of the competition.
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