Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 7/10
Two free-scoring sides who are looking to book their spot in the final of this year’s extended Europa League, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk will meet at the Merkur Spiel-Arena on Monday night.
Starting with Inter Milan, while Antonio Conte’s men might have been left heartbroken to have missed out on lifting their first Serie A title since 2010 by a one-point gap this summer, I Nerazzurri have enjoyed a stunning end to the year. With the mood in their camp at a real high and coming past Bayer Leverkusen thanks to a 2-1 win in a one-off quarter-final last time out, the former Chelsea boss finds his side in the midst of a five-match winning run across all competitions and with a growing reputation for their displays in the final third. Also signing off this year’s domestic campaign with back-to-back impressive 2-0 victories against Napoli and Atalanta, Inter are also enjoying a glittering 10-match unbeaten run across all competitions, their brightest run of the season so far. Now bagging at least a pair of strikes in all bar one of those 10 appearances, Conte also has one leading marksman enjoying a real purple patch on his maiden campaign with the Italian giants. Once again finding the net against Leverkusen last time out, leading marksman Romelu Lukaku has bagged 31 strikes this season since making the move from Manchester United and even more impressive, the Belgian striker has recorded a goal in his last six European appearances on the bounce.
Despite recently making his move to the San Siro a permanent one, Inter Milan have announced that Alexis Sanchez will miss out after picking up a thigh injury.
Matias Vecino is out with a knee injury, while Stefano Sensi will hope to force his way back into Antonio Conte’s XI.
As for Shakhtar Donetsk, really cruising past Basel in the quarter-finals and laying down another marker, the Ukrainian giants have also gained plenty of admirers for what has been a stunning run of form. Breezing past the Swiss outfit at Schalke’s Veltins Arena on Tuesday night and putting four past Bebbi, Luís Castro’s men are unbeaten in all 11 of their appearances since returning from football’s enforced break. Eventually reclaiming their Premier League crown with a dominant 23-point buffer at the top of the table, Shakhtar should also be boosted by what was another rampant display against German away day specialists Wolfsburg earlier in the month. Picking up what was a real notable scalp and landing a 5-1 aggregate romp against the Greens, the one-time Porto boss also has his own leading marksman who has continued to shine at the back end of the season. Opening the scoring against Basel after just two minutes earlier in the week, Ukrainian Golden Boot winner Juinor Moraes has now recorded three goals in back-to-back Europa League outings and has also found the net in his last three contests on the bounce. It is also worth highlighting, that Castro’s side have now bagged at least a pair of strikes in each of their last five consecutive European appearances.
The Ukrainian giants will be without the quartet of Maksym Malyshev, Vyacheslav Tankovskyi, Vladyslav Vakula and Ismaily on Monday night.
Key Factors to Consider
- Inter Milan have won their last five matchups on the bounce across all competitions and are in the midst of a 10-match unbeaten run.
- Romelu Lukaku has recorded 31 goals in his opening season at the San Siro, including finding the net in his last six European appearances on the bounce.
- Shakhtar Donetsk have scored at least a pair of goals in each of their last five Europa League matchups on the bounce.
- Striker Juinor Moraes has recorded three goals in back-to-back Europa League outings and has four goals in his last three appearances.
- Inter Milan have scored over 1.5 goals in each of their last four Europa League matchups on the bounce.
On paper, we could be in for a lively encounter out in Germany on Monday night. With Inter picking up an eye-catching 2-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen earlier in the week, Antonio Conte’s men have won their last five contests on the bounce and Romelu Lukaku has only gone from strength to strength since joining from Old Trafford last summer. Finding the net in his last six European appearances on the bounce and recording 31st strikes for the former Chelsea boss, the Belgian striker should be looking to extend on that tally this week. However, cruising past Basel in what was a stunning 4-1 romp in the quarter-finals, Inter aren’t the only side enjoying a free-scoring run of form. With Juinor Moraes now bagging three strikes in back-to-back Europa League outings, the Ukrainian giants are unbeaten since returning from the enforced break and have now bagged at least a pair of strikes in each of their last five consecutive European appearances.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 7/10
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