Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk meet in the second semi-final of the UEFA Europa League 2019-20 tonight at the Merkur Spielarena for a spot in the final, where the winner will be greeted by five-time champions, Sevilla.
As of now, Inter Milan have endured nine trophyless seasons and after falling short in the Serie A by just one point behind champions Juventus this season, they will be hoping to go all the way in the continental tournament.
Heading into the fixture, both teams are almost on par when it comes to form. The Italian side is unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions while the Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk have not lost in their previous 11 outings.
In their previous meeting in the 2005-06 Champions League qualifying phase, Inter won 3-1 on aggregate across two legs but when these sides meet again tonight the stakes will be much higher.
In this one-off semi-final, every player needs to be at his best and here we take a look at the 5 players who can make a difference in the game.
Five key players to watch out for in Inter Milan's semi-final clash against Shakhtar Donetsk
#5 Alan Patrick (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Shakhtar Donetsk have always had a strong Brazilian contingent in their squad and to their credit, the players have always delivered. This season too, the skilful players from the nation that lives and breathes football have been crucial to their domestic success and the unbeaten run in the Europa League.
One of the players who is often overlooked is midfielder Alan Patrick, who makes the midfield tick with his quick layoffs and distribution. Patrick has three goals in five Europa League appearances but playing as a No.10 he is mostly involved in creating chances for his side as evident from his two key passes per 90 and 90.3 % pass success.
#4 Diego Godin (Inter Milan)
Veteran defender Diego Godin is likely to play an important role against Shakhtar, a side that has scored 2.8 goals on average in the competition. Godin has been solid at the back in their Europa League campaign, starting in all the four games as they conceded only two goals.
Godin has mostly started at the right of a three-man defence in Antonio Conte's 3-5-2 system and will likely be pitted against Taison. Though the Brazilian attacking midfielder can beat Godin for pace he is no match for his aerial prowess and well-timed tackles.
He has 3.3 aerial duels per 90 in the tournament, more than twice of any of Shakhtar's forwards while he has only been dribbled past 0.5 times per game. The Uruguayan has made three successful tackles every game, so he is well suited to neutralise the attacking threat from the Ukrainian side.
Conte will also be hoping for Godin to provide a commanding voice in the back and use his experience to help his side keep their nerves to make it into their first European final since the 2009-10 season.