Mark Temnycky –
Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Monday, 17 August 2020 – 20:00 GMT/21:00 CEST – Merkur Spiel-Arena, Düsseldorf, Germany
After some entertaining quarterfinal matches, Internazionale will face Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League’s Semifinals. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the two-legged format of the semifinals have been scrapped, thus reducing the tie to one match. The game will be played at a neutral venue in Germany, and fans will not be permitted to attend.
First, Internazionale. The Italians were unfortunate to miss out on the Serie A title, where they finished a point behind winners Juventus. Inter finished with more goals scored, fewer goals conceded and few losses than Juventus, but a series of draws ultimately costed Inter the title. The Nerazzurri were also eliminated by Napoli in the Coppa Italia semifinals, meaning manager Antonio Conte and Inter were left without a domestic trophy for the 2019/20 season.
Their hopes for the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League were not much better. Internazionale were paired with Spanish club Barcelona, German team Borussia Dortmund and Czech side Slavia Praha during the competition’s group stages. The Italians were bested by Barcelona and Dortmund, and they were criticized for their lackluster results against Praha. Due to these poor performances, Internazionale were dumped out of the competition.
But Inter have an opportunity to make amends for these performances as they find themselves in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League Semifinal. The Italians have been superb following their arrival to this year’s Europa League. They first dispatched Bulgarian team Ludogorets Razgrad with ease during the competition’s Round of 32. Inter then faced Spanish club Getafe in the Europa League’s Round of 16, a match that Inter also overcame without much difficulty. It was not until the competition’s quarterfinal where Inter were put to the test. The Nerazzurri were paired with German team Bayer Leverkusen, and after a tightly fought contest, the Italians emerged victorious. Inter are now two wins away from lifting the Europa League title.
Internazionale’s opponents, however, will be difficult as Shakhtar Donetsk have also been superb. Moving on to the Ukrainians, Shakhtar Donetsk had another strong domestic campaign. The Miners retained the Ukrainian Premier Liha for a fourth consecutive season, although they missed out on the Ukrainian Cup and Ukrainian Super Cup. Nonetheless, Shakhtar will be satisfied with their achievement, knowing that winning the UPL means that they will get to compete in the Champions League next season.
Like Internazionale, Shakhtar Donetsk also entered the Champions League’s group stages this season. The Ukrainians were paired with English club Manchester City, Croatian team Dinamo Zagreb and Italian side Atalanta. While Shakhtar lost their opening group stage match against City, the Ukrainians went on a four-game unbeaten run that put them in prime position to advance to the Champions League’s knockout stages. Unfortunately for the Miners, they lost their final group stage match against Atalanta, which eliminated them from the competition.
After being dumped out of the Champions League, Shakhtar found their stride in the Europa League’s Round of 32. The Ukrainians overcame Portuguese club Benfica over two legs, where the second leg in Lisbon ended in a 3-3 thriller. The Ukrainians then saw off German club Wolfsburg 5-1 on aggregate during the competition’s Round of 16. Most recently, the Ukrainians defeated Swiss team Basel in the Europa League’s Quarterfinals. Many bookies and pundits expected Shakhtar to be eliminated by Benfica or Wolfsburg, but the Ukrainians have proved their doubters wrong.
Overall, Internazionale and Shakhtar Donetsk overcame their opponents during the Europa League’s knockout stages this season, and this forthcoming semifinal will be a proper matchup between the two clubs. Who will reach the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League Final?
Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Players to Watch:
Romelu Lukaku #9 – Internazionale
Having arrived at Internazionale during the 2019 Summer Transfer Window, Romelu Lukaku has been superb. The Belgian forward has scored 31 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions this season, and he will look add to his tally in this upcoming match. Should the Nerazzurri hope to reach the 2019/20 Europa League Final, the Italians will need to rely on their prolific striker in this match, which should not be an issue.
Andriy Pyatov #30 – Shakhtar Donetsk
Should Shakhtar Donetsk hope to defeat Internazionale, goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov will have be at the top of his game. The Ukrainian has only kept one clean sheet in 11 international cup matches this season, which is not good enough. If Shakhtar Donetsk hope to overcome their opponents, Pyatov will have to replicate his national team performances against Portugal during the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Otherwise, the Miners will surely be eliminated from the competition.
Inter Milan vs Shakhtar– Match Statistics:
- Internazionale previously faced Shakhtar Donetsk during the third qualification round of the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League. Inter won once and drew the other match.
- Inter are without the injured Matías Vecino.
- Shakhtar’s Ismaily is injured and will not feature in this match. Davit Khocholava is suspended.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk – 4-2
Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Possible Lineups:
Handanovič – Godín, De Vrij, Bastoni – D’Ambrosio, Barella, Brozović, Gagliardini, Young – Martínez, Lukaku
Manager: Antonio Conte
Pyatov – Dodô, Kryvtsov, Bondar, Matviyenko – Antônio, Stepanenko – Marlos, A. Patrick, Taison – Moraes
Manager: Luís Castro
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky