Sevilla boss Unai Emery is hoping to see Yevhen Konoplyanka recapture some of his best form to inspire the holders into the Europa League final.
The Ukraine international has struggled for consistency since moving to La Liga from Dnipro last year and has failed to register a goal or an assist in their run to the semi-finals this season.
Emery has praised Konoplyanka’s application in training as he looks to find his feet in Spain and hopes he could prove the difference in Thursday’s second leg with Shakhtar Donetsk.
“I’m happy with his willingness to grow but he and I both know that he has to improve and he’s on that path,” Emery said. “He’s learned that he is not yet the big star he was at Dnipro.
“He’s a player who can win games on his own when he’s inspired.”
Sevilla, winners for the last two seasons, are chasing a third Europa League final in a row and Emery has urged his players to embrace their chance of making history.
“We’re living a special moment, one of excitement, one which we never dreamed of having,” he said. “We have to be hungry to do something important, historic, and that’s something all the sevillistas have.
“But we must also be aware of the difficulty. We need our heads as well as our hearts.
“I think these are two teams who deserve to be in the semi-finals, so it will be very difficult. There is not too much confidence because the result will only be decisive in the event of a draw.
“We are two teams who compete at the top level and we want to continue doing that.”
Defender Adil Rami went on to warn his team-mates that they cannot afford to be short of their best against Mircea Lucescu’s side, who won the last UEFA Cup in 2009 prior to its rebranding.
“We’re working hard and we’re very focused,” he said. “We know the opportunity we have and we have to be at 100 per cent. We have to live it. Being at 95 per cent will not be enough.
“We have a lot of respect for them because they’re used to playing games at this level, they are quick on the counter-attack and it will be very tough tomorrow.
“Sevilla are hungry for titles and I’m grateful to them for giving me the chance to dream.”
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