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17:30 London time

Ukraine. Kiev. Valeri Lobanovskiy Stadium.

Dynamo Kyiv - Shakhtar

Yuri Semin was quietly confident as he looked ahead to FC Dynamo Kyiv's UEFA Cup semi-final meeting with domestic rivals FC Shakhtar Donetsk as expectations mount in Ukraine – but it will not stop him making his usual pre-match pilgrimage to request a little extra help.

National importance

Such is the heightened interest in this match that thousands turned up when tickets were made available a fortnight ago, the game selling out within two hours. There is a buzz about Ukrainian football not witnessed, according to local commentators, since Valeriy Lobanovskiy guided a Dynamo team spearheaded by Andriy Shevchenko to the 1999 UEFA Champions League semi-finals. "There is huge expectation around the country," said Semin ahead of what will be the Bilo-Syni's sixth last-four tie in European competition, Shakhtar's first. "It's creating a big clamour. We're at a serious level now."

Dynamo advantage

The smart money is on Dynamo. Sunday's 1-0 victory against FC Kharkiv extended their winning run at home in domestic competition to 12 games, and left them 12 points clear of second-placed Shakhtar at the Premier League summit with just five fixtures to go. Roman Eremenko missed the Kharkiv match, and while Semin said he will be available to face Shakhtar, Guilherme's hopes of a timely UEFA Cup debut have been ruined by a thigh injury. The tactician was less eager to discuss what he does have to hand, however. "I'm not going to talk about our strong points; I want them to be a surprise. That said, both teams know each other so well," said the 61-year-old Russian. "I expect a tough, proper game and we must remain cool, clear our heads."

Solace

To gain lucidity himself, Semin will make his usual trip to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery to pray, even if history suggests his side will not need too much outside assistance. They have traditionally enjoyed the upper hand against Shakhtar, especially at home, though they do not need reminding that one of their three league defeats this season came away to the Pitmen in November. Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu believes that meeting, not the sizeable gulf in points accrued, paints a more accurate picture of the levels the teams are at. "Dynamo's advantage is misleading," he said. "This tie will show the real difference.

Lucescu lift

"The match will be extraordinary for Ukraine and the whole of Europe will be watching so it's vital for both clubs. We will try to demonstrate the kind of football the UEFA Cup semi-finals deserve," continued the Romanian who, while free of injury concerns, admits he will have to "bear in mind" the five players a yellow card away from a ban. The Ukrainian titleholders claimed a fifth successive victory in all competitions against FC Chornomorets Odesa at the weekend, and with his son, Răzvan, appointed Romania coach on Wednesday, Lucescu has much to celebrate. He hopes for more after next week's second leg, the second of four meetings with Dynamo inside a month, but also has nobler ambitions: "I hope we produce a tie that would befit the Champions League. By the end of it I'd like to see both sets of players shake hands and be happy for each other."

19:45 London time

Germany. Bremen. Weserstadion.

Bremen - Hamburg

With Werder Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf's 48th birthday falling on the day his side take on rivals Hamburger SV in the first leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final at the Weserstadion, there are no prizes for guessing how he would like to celebrate.

'Big emotions'

Having already won their German Cup semi-final against HSV last week, the first of four meetings between the two teams in the space of 19 days, the intention is to carry that momentum on to the European stage. "My wish is that we play well, control the match and that the supporters get behind us," Schaaf said ahead of the seventh all-German semi-final in the competition. "I hope we can keep up the good run we've had in the UEFA Cup. It's an all-German semi-final which means big emotions for the supporters. Both teams know how important this derby match is."

Tenth anniversary

Though the skies over Bremen are grey, the mood in both camps was bright as the northern cities count down the minutes to the second instalment of this four-part drama which concludes three days after the second leg in the Bundesliga. For Schaaf the significant dates are coming thick and fast. He celebrates his tenth anniversary as Bremen coach on 9 May and what better way to mark the occasion than by taking Bremen to the final in Istanbul against either FC Dynamo Kyiv or FC Shakhtar Donetsk. "That would be great, but being here ten years doesn't matter, what's important is to get this team to the final," he said. "To do that we have to work very hard and play well in both games."

Morale high

Bremen have lost at this stage three times before and the tie represents the chance to salvage a disappointing season. Mid-table in the Bundesliga, their German Cup win on penalties over Hamburg raised morale which was further boosted by a 3-2 victory over VfL Bochum 1848 on Saturday. Hamburg have been enjoying a terrific season in the league and are only three points off the summit. Their cup exit, however, was followed by defeat at BV Borussia Dortmund and coach Martin Jol knows his side must quickly regain momentum.

Good teams

"We're happy to be in the semi-final," he said. "It's very good for the club and the players want to get to the final, but we haven't won anything yet. It's normally an advantage if you play your first game away, but we have to see if it turns out to be better for us. I think the chances are 50-50. They are both good teams and both have a good chance to advance."

Barren run

Jol will be without injured striker Mladen Petrić and defender Marcell Jansen, but welcomes back Alex Silva. Bremen are missing defender Petri Pasanen though midfielder Frank Baumann is expected to be fit. Hamburg, beaten finalists in 1982, have not got this far in European competition since winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1983, a barren run Jol is determined to end. As for Schaaf's birthday, the Dutchman insisted his generosity would not be stretched too far. "What do you want to hear, that I'm going to give him a trip Istanbul?" The joking ends on Thursday.

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Shaktar is not enemy for me.

If Dynamo can't then I not against Shaktar win UEFA Сup.

For Dynamo Kiev a main rival is Spartak Moscow. Only after there is Shaktar, but these are not comparable comparisons.

But Dynamo - Shaktar is big Ukrainian rivalry.

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Is there any particular reason why people are going for Hamburg or is it just because Bremen play in green and white.

There's an HSV Fanklub based in The Glaswegian and there's been an RSC in Hamburg for 30+ years.

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Is there any particular reason why people are going for Hamburg or is it just because Bremen play in green and white.

There's an HSV Fanklub based in The Glaswegian and there's been an RSC in Hamburg for 30+ years.

So it's a longstanding thing? I can appreciate that then. I never really get these so called relationships with other clubs though, I commented on a youtube video of Dortmund fans singing YNWA and said how I hated how Celtic appropriated it from Liverpool but I thought the Dortmund fans did it well and they were in my books the best fans in Germany and some guy goes on about a "speshul relationship" with Celtic doh.

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Is there any particular reason why people are going for Hamburg or is it just because Bremen play in green and white.

There's an HSV Fanklub based in The Glaswegian and there's been an RSC in Hamburg for 30+ years.

So it's a longstanding thing? I can appreciate that then. I never really get these so called relationships with other clubs though, I commented on a youtube video of Dortmund fans singing YNWA and said how I hated how Celtic appropriated it from Liverpool but I thought the Dortmund fans did it well and they were in my books the best fans in Germany and some guy goes on about a "speshul relationship" with Celtic doh.

Yes mate, this isn't your typical Celtic-style relationship, it is a bond which has been growing over the years. The fact that Celtic have developed a "friendship" with St Pauli (the scum of Hamburg) as a result of this just shows their support are obsessed with making friends with everyone and anyone.

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Is there any particular reason why people are going for Hamburg or is it just because Bremen play in green and white.

There's an HSV Fanklub based in The Glaswegian and there's been an RSC in Hamburg for 30+ years.

So it's a longstanding thing? I can appreciate that then. I never really get these so called relationships with other clubs though, I commented on a youtube video of Dortmund fans singing YNWA and said how I hated how Celtic appropriated it from Liverpool but I thought the Dortmund fans did it well and they were in my books the best fans in Germany and some guy goes on about a "speshul relationship" with Celtic doh.

Hamburg fans at the City of Manchester Stadium a couple of weeks ago.

There was a busload of bears in the Upper tier.

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Is there any particular reason why people are going for Hamburg or is it just because Bremen play in green and white.

There's an HSV Fanklub based in The Glaswegian and there's been an RSC in Hamburg for 30+ years.

So it's a longstanding thing? I can appreciate that then. I never really get these so called relationships with other clubs though, I commented on a youtube video of Dortmund fans singing YNWA and said how I hated how Celtic appropriated it from Liverpool but I thought the Dortmund fans did it well and they were in my books the best fans in Germany and some guy goes on about a "speshul relationship" with Celtic doh .

I don't really see a problem with it. If a bunch of Hamburg, Chelsea, Linfield, West Ham fans or whoever have a liking for the Gers thats fine by me.

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I don't really see a problem with it. If a bunch of Hamburg, Chelsea, Linfield, West Ham fans or whoever have a liking for the Gers thats fine by me.

Exactly. And as it happens a lot of bears have a liking for HSV, what's the big deal?

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I don't really see a problem with it. If a bunch of Hamburg, Chelsea, Linfield, West Ham fans or whoever have a liking for the Gers thats fine by me.

Exactly. And as it happens a lot of bears have a liking for HSV, what's the big deal?

Didn't mean for it to come across like I have a problem with it because I don't. Unless it's like the Celtic fans where they just claim to have a relationship with basically every big club in existence. So I don't have a problem with a link between Rangers and other clubs I'm just saying that personally I don't follow clubs specifically because they align themselves with Rangers nor do I despise clubs that align themselves with Celtic.

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I don't really see a problem with it. If a bunch of Hamburg, Chelsea, Linfield, West Ham fans or whoever have a liking for the Gers thats fine by me.

Exactly. And as it happens a lot of bears have a liking for HSV, what's the big deal?

(tu)

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The past few weeks, I noticed that it appears that Werner Bremen and Hamburg HSV may have been keeping track of each other by winning their Bundesliga games. In what ways should Hamburg be wary of Werner Bremen when playing them today? I am just curious about the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.

Hamburger HSV, BTHO (beat the hell outta) Werner Bremen.

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