As Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen vie to become the 38th team to win the UEFA Cup before the competition mutates into the UEFA Europa League, both sides expect to bring the curtain down in style.
“I’m sure we’ll see an exciting game between teams with two different styles,” Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu said. “Bremen are always attack-minded, they are a very physical team. Our style is based on our skill which we’ll try to use to take control of the game.
“I’m very happy to return to Istanbul,” said the Romanian, who won the Turkish title with both Galatasaray; and Besiktas. “I love this city. Playing in the UEFA Cup final is a dream for any player and I’m happy mine have fulfilled it.”
His opposite number Thomas Schaff called for a show of courage, stating: “We have to be assertive. It will be a hot match but a final is never easy and we’re happy to face this challenge.”
Shakhtar come into the game having won 23 of their last 27 games in all competitions and ten of their last eleven. It is a far cry from Bremen, who have struggled for consistency and whose 3-1 home defeat by the Bundesliga’s bottom side Karslruhe on Saturday hardly the ideal tonic on the eve of the final.
In addition, Schaaf has been hampered by injuries as well as the suspension of talisman Diego. Striker Hugo Almeida is also banned and with centre-back Per Mertesacker injured, the coach’s choices are limited.
Mesut Ozil will take on the playmaker’s duties with Alexandros Tziolis coming in on the left side of midfield. Captain Frank Baumann faces a late fitness test, although injury doubts Claudio Pizarro and Markus Rosenberg should play, while Sebastian Prodl will partner Naldo in central defence.
“You can’t replace those players on a one-to-one basis but we’ll make the most of our squad; we have good quality there,” Schaaf said.
Lucescu, meanwhile, can name a near full-strength side. With Jadson fit again, suspended midfielder Tomas Hubschman is the only absentee and Mariusz Lewandowski is likely to replace him.
For Shakhtar, reaching the UEFA Cup final represents their first European final and they are the first Ukrainian side since independence in 1991 to contest such a showpiece. Bremen, meanwhile, are determined to claim a second European trophy to add to the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup they won in 1992.