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 holders sealed a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the semi-final thanks to Kevin Gameiro’s penalty, giving them a slight advantage heading into the return fixture with Mircea Lucescu’s side.
Sevilla are seeking a remarkable third Europa League triumph in three seasons and have won 11 of their last 12 home matches in the tournament, while Shakhtar have failed to win any of their last five games against Spanish opposition.
With the form book on their 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 winners in 2009, ended a run of three draws on the bounce in all competitions with a feisty 3-0 win over league leaders 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 visitors, 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 have faced Ukrainian opposition six times previously in European competition; they have never lost (W4 D2).
– Shakhtar Donetsk come into this match having won their 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 semi-final 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.