Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte says semi-final opponents Shakhtar Donetsk will be their toughest Europa League opponents yet.
Inter have defeated Getafe and Bayer Leverkusen this month, while Shakhtar beat Wolfsburg and Basel convincingly.
“We have a lot of respect for Shakhtar. They have established themselves over the years,” said Conte.
“They are the strongest opponents we have faced so far in our Europa League path.”
Conte added: “We want to show that there’s a reason that we are in the semi-finals, and our aim is to reach the final.”
The winners face Sevilla in the final.
Ashley Young, one of three former United players at Inter, said: “Our concentration is on Shakhtar. That’s the next game, that’s what we’re thinking about. That’s where all our focus is.”
Serie A runners-up Inter, who are looking for a first trophy since 2010-11, are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions. Ukrainian champions Shakhtar have not lost for 11 games.
“I am absolutely calm about the match,” said Shakhtar’s Portuguese boss Luis Castro.
“We know that there is a fight with a very strong team, and that is not surprising. We are prepared for this.
“There is a very difficult game ahead, but Inter also, I think, will face difficulties. Calmness is our DNA and I am sure that we are fully prepared for the match.”
- Inter Milan will appear in the semi-final of a European competition for the first time since winning the the 2009-10 Champions League.
- The only previous meeting between Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk was in the 2005-06 Champions League qualifying phase, with Inter winning 3-1 on aggregate across two legs.
- Since dropping out of the Champions League, Inter have won all four of their Europa League games this season – they last won five consecutive matches in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) between December 2009 and April 2010.
- Shakhtar Donetsk are looking to reach only their second ever European final, last achieving that feat in the 2008-09 Uefa Cup before going on to beat Werder Bremen in the final.
- Inter’s Romelu Lukaku is the first player in Uefa Cup/Europa League history to score in nine consecutive matches – a run stretching back to November 2014 with Everton.
- Junior Moraes has been directly involved in seven goals in seven Europa League appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk (five goals, two assists), with all coming in the knockout phase.