Lucescu plays down Konoplyanka factor


Shakhtar Donetsk head coach Mircea Lucescu played down the potential influence of Yevhen Konoplyanka on Sevilla's preparations for Thursday's Europa League semi-final.

The Liga side have travelled to Ukraine to continue their quest for a third consecutive Europa League title and fifth in 11 seasons on Thursday.

Konoplyanka returns to his homeland having starred in Dnipro's surprise run to last season's final before switching allegiance to Sevilla.

Lucescu is confident any inside knowledge the winger believes he holds will be secondary to a carefully constructed game plan from Sevilla coach Unai Emery.

"That's normal when footballers who know the opponents can share something. But I do not think that there are coaches who listen to their players," Lucescu said.

"Each coach builds the game plan independently and studies the opponents very well. I do not think that gathering different information is worthwhile.

"Every coach has his own strategy. That's why Emery has studied Shakhtar's four previous games.

"I never ask players for any kind of additional information. Each of us sees the encounter in his own way, so it makes no sense to listen to someone else's opinion."

Long-serving boss Lucescu led Shakhtar to the UEFA Cup 2008-09 but saw his side knocked out by Sevilla on their path to glory a season earlier, when goalkeeper Andres Palop sensationally equalised for the Spanish side before they claimed an extra-time victory.

"We've shown some fragments of those two games to the players," Lucescu explained. "We had 10 seconds left to edge past Sevilla back then. 

"We had a very good game in Donetsk. Unfortunately, we missed focus in the dying seconds. And that led to goal-scoring and the defeat.

"Sevilla that year, if you can remember, won the UEFA Cup. I think they just got lucky against us.

"Let's hope that the luck they had then will pass on to us because everything is balanced in life."