Robin van Persie predicts Inter will beat Shakhtar Donetsk to reach the Europa League Final. ‘Antonio Conte has brought structure and made his team super fit.’
The semi-final kicks off on Monday at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT) in Dusseldorf.
“Inter have always been a big club, but not always in the way they are now,” van Persie told uefa.com.
“Since Conte arrived, he’s brought structure and it’s clear how he wants them to play. I speak to Stefan de Vrij, and he told me about his first pre-season at Inter – he was like: ‘Wow Robin: it’s so tough, but I’m so fit now.’
“And he told me that the coach is very clear in how he wants the team to play in every single position. And he wants his team to be super, super fit. So it’s mainly down to him.”
This is the first time Inter have reached the semi-finals of a major European competition since winning the Champions League in 2010.
“They've had great players for many, many years, but now, they really act like a team. [Romelu] Lukaku has been doing so well in the league as well as in the Europa League. He got his confidence back and I can clearly see that the team and the coach are connected and they are doing that really well.”
However, van Persie also warns that Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk are not to be taken for granted after their 4-1 win over FC Basel.
“Shakhtar are quite a sensational team in transitions with some brilliant ball players like Taison and Junior Moraes. I played against them with Arsenal, Manchester United and in the Champions League play-offs with Fenerbahce.
“They’re mentally very strong, and it doesn’t really matter if they aren't playing in front of their own crowd. Whatever the situation, they just crack on with what they do best, and that's playing really good football.
“Inter are doing very well – very good coach, very good players; they’re winning, but Shakhtar… It’s difficult to say, but based on my games against them, I would not write them off because these guys play no matter what – in front home fans or not. So, tricky, but I would go for Inter in this one: 2-1.”
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