Sevilla eyes historic Europa League final spot

Sevilla is seeking a remarkable third Europa League triumph in three seasons and has won 11 of its last 12 home matches in the tournament, while Shakhtar has failed to win any of its last five games against Spanish opposition.

vitolo - cropped

Sevilla forward Vitolo celebrates after scoring a goal against Shakhtar Donetsk during the first leg semifinal.

Sevilla star Vitolo says the fans at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan are well aware of the importance of Thursday's Europa League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk.

The defending champion sealed a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the semifinal thanks to Kevin Gameiro's penalty, giving it a slight advantage heading into the return fixture with Mircea Lucescu's side.

Sevilla is seeking a remarkable third Europa League triumph in three seasons and has won 11 of its last 12 home matches in the tournament, while Shakhtar has failed to win any of its last five games against Spanish opposition.

With the form book on its side and a place in history beckoning, Vitolo expects the home fans in Andalusia to create an intimidating atmosphere for Thursday's game. "I don't have to say anything, the fans know how important the game is," said Vitolo, who scored the opening goal of the first leg in Lviv. "We must go after the game from the first minute. We'll fight with all our strength to get to the final.

"They are very competitive, they have good people like Taison or Marlos. We're working well in our matches and in training in order to face the attacks when the day comes."

Shakhtar, UEFA Cup winner in 2009, ended a run of three draws on the bounce in all competitions with a feisty 3-0 win over league leader Dynamo Kiev on Sunday.

Striker Facundo Ferreyra sat out that victory but is now fired up for what he considers to be the biggest game of his career - and he has identified what he thinks could be Sevilla's undoing. "This game is really the most important in my career," he told the club's website.

"Counter-attacking is the style of play which causes difficulties for Sevilla. And we must not allow them to take the ball. They have some technical and fast players who boast very good passing.

"I think the match will not be much different from the one in Lviv. But this time, the opponents will play at home. In any case, they will have to charge forward and expose themselves in front of the home stands. At the same time, it would be nice if they leave us some space for counter-attacks.

"We will also need to attack, because the draw is not our option. We must score."

Fred is suspended for the visiting team, while Marcio Azevedo (knee) is a long-term absentee. Darijo Srna, Oleksandr Gladkyy and Dentinho all trained individually on Sunday but are battling to be fully fit.

Michael Krohn-Dehli suffered a serious knee injury in the first leg and is sidelined for Sevilla, while Jose Antonio Reyes is a major doubt. Timothee Kolodziejczak has been given the medical green light after a head injury, but Benoit Tremoulinas (hamstring) is expected to miss out.

Key Opta Stats:

- Sevilla has faced Ukrainian opposition six times previously in European competition; it has never lost (W4 D2).
- Shakhtar Donetsk come into this match having won its last three Europa League matches on the road in a row; conceding just one goal in that time.
- Sevilla could become the first team since Juventus in 1998, to reach a major European competition final three times in a row; Juventus managed it four times in a row between 1995 and 1998.
- All three of the previous matches played out between these teams have seen Sevilla and Shakhtar both score at least twice.
- Unai Emery will record his 100th European game as coach; his counterpart Mircea Lucescu, however, has more experience (213 games) than the other three semifinal coaches combined (186).
- Kevin Gameiro has been involved in six goals across his last four Europa League appearances (four scored and two assists) as well as getting on the scoresheet in each of his last four home appearances in this competition.
- Marlos has scored twice and assisted two goals in the Europa League this season in seven games, the same as he managed in 14 Europa League games for Metallist Kharkiv.

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