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UEFA Youth League semi-final preview

On-song RSC Anderlecht face penalty kings FC Shakhtar Donetsk and mighty Chelsea FC meet an AS Roma side well-versed in upsetting the odds. Here is what is coming up on Friday.

The UEFA Youth League trophy and semi-finalist jerseys
The UEFA Youth League trophy and semi-finalist jerseys ©UEFA.com

The UEFA Youth League semi-finals take place on Friday. On-song RSC Anderlecht take on penalty kings FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the early game before favourites Chelsea FC meet an AS Roma side well-versed in upsetting the odds. You can follow the action as it happens on UEFA.com.

RSC Anderlecht 13.00 FC Shakhtar Donetsk
Anderlecht's prospects looked bleak when they slumped to a 3-0 opening-day reverse at Galatasaray AŞ. They have been almost unstoppable since, though, claiming the scalps of Arsenal FC, Borussia Dortmund and holders FC Barcelona before an Aaron Leya Iseka hat-trick helped them dispatch FC Porto 5-0 in the quarters. Mohamed Ouahbi's side have a nice mix: midfielder Andy Kawaya has UEFA Champions League experience; goalkeeper Mile Svilar is 15.

Shakhtar are the only unbeaten team left. Their knockout fixtures to date – against Olympiacos FC and last season's runners-up SL Benfica – have followed a particular pattern: fall behind; equalise; win 5-4 on penalties. "My team have already demonstrated the true Donetsk spirit several times," said coach Valeriy Kryventsov, a former international who himself came through the club's youth ranks. "Luck favours the strongest."

Watch Anderlecht eliminate Barcelona
Watch Anderlecht eliminate Barcelona

AS Roma 17.15 Chelsea FC
Chelsea are perhaps favourites to lift the trophy on Monday following a relentlessly impressive campaign. Adi Viveash's charges have won seven out of eight this term, boasting the best attack in the competition (29 goals) and the best defence (four). They also feature four players who train with the first-team squad, and top scorer Dominic Solanke and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both figured in the UEFA Champions League proper this season.

Roma's stunning quarter-final winner
Roma's stunning quarter-final winner

Roma are not without hope, however. FC Schalke 04 showed in the autumn that Chelsea are not unbeatable and the side trained by Alberto De Rossi (father of Daniele) have upset the odds before. They overcame three group stage defeats to advance (two coming against Manchester City FC), then after edging out AFC Ajax on penalties they overcame the English team at the third attempt, in the last eight. Keep an eye out for some familiar names.