Europa League draw: player comments

Shakhtar learnt about their UEFA Europa League Last 8 opponents while on the plane. The crew chief announced the draw results on the way from Brussels to Kyiv almost immediately. We are bringing you the Pitmen’s first reaction.

Yaroslav Rakits’kyy, Shakhtar defender:

- I had a feeling that we would get Braga. I even bet on it against Vasyl Kobin, who expected Liverpool. Although, by and large, the opponents do not matter. If we want to reach the final and win it, we need to watch our own performance. I remember our games agaaist Braga. They are a technical, fast team. Judging by the replay selection I’ve watched, the Portuguese are now playing the same style. They have some skilful guys who can independently decide the outcome of the game. Meanwhile, Shakhtar change every year, we now have a younger squad, with many Academy graduates on the team. The Portuguese rely on technique. We do that either, though we have both skill and fighting qualities! The same Oleksandr Kucher is a fighter. Of course, his absence is a great loss for Shakhtar. But, as Mircea Lucescu says, no one is irreplaceable. We must do our job to achieve a positive result. For now, Mister gave us a few days off. Probably, the coach feels that we are ready, and he trusts us. Of course, we need some rest – both mentally and physically. We will recover and soon return with renewed vigour!

Oleksandr Kucher, Shakhtar defender:

- I have not watched Braga’s games in the current Europa League edition, so it is difficult to immediately assess their strengths and weaknesses. For us, that’s a good option, but we mustn’t forget that Braga have reached the quarter-final stage, they are not easy opponents. All the Portuguese teams are well prepared physically and technically. They are stubborn, uncompromising, aggressive and they always fight until the end. Therefore, we are facing some difficult and interesting matches. I remember our meetings with Braga five and a half years ago, Mateus played for them back then, with the team having a very serious attacking third! Back then, the Portuguese were fighting in the Champions League group stage until the last round. They played very well at home and defeated Arsenal. By the way, our team features a former Braga player - Ismaily... We must prepare, and do that very seriously. It will be a tough encounter.

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