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UEFA Europa League

  • February 14, 2013
  • • 1:00 PM
  • • Generali Arena, Praha
  • Referee: D. Orsato
  • • Attendance: 18952
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Europa League Preview: Sparta Prague - Chelsea

Rafael Benitez's side opens its Europa League campaign in the Czech Republic against the Reds, who sit third in the Czech Premier League and lost just once in the group stage.

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

SPARTA PRAGUE

Vaclik
Svejdik, Zapotocny, Vidlicka, Pamic
Holek, Husbauer, Matejovsky, Jarosik
Balaj, Kadlec

CHELSEA

Cech
Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Bertrand
Ramires, Mikel, Marin
Oscar, Torres, Moses


The home side should choose a fairly strong team for this game, with exciting youngster Vaclav Kadlec a key threat in attack. He would be supported up front by Albanian Bekim Balaj, who has scored five goals in 10 appearances since moving from KF Tirana.

In defense, the experienced Tomas Zapotocny will be crucial in the center, hoping to use his considerable experience of European soccer to good effect for the home side.

For Chelsea, Demba Ba is cup-tied having played in this competition already for Newcastle, so it will fall to Fernando Torres to lead the line. Blues manager Rafael Benitez may choose this competition to experiment with his side, allowing some of his fringe players time on the pitch.

John Terry remains out with a knee injury, while midfielder Oriel Romeu (knee) is another long-term absentee.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Sparta Prague first began its Europa League campaign in the beginning of August, beating Admira of Austria 4-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.
  • Czech midfielder Jiri Jarosik spent two seasons with Chelsea, making enough league appearances in the 2004-05 season to earn a Premier League winner’s medal but being loaned to Birmingham City after the arrival of Michael Essien.
  • Sparta Prague has tasted success in European club competition before, winning the Mitropa Cup for central European teams three times before the tournament was discontinued in 1992.
  • These teams last met in the Champions League group stage in the 2003-04 season, with the sides drawing 0-0 at Stamford Bridge after the Blues won 1-0 away in Prague thanks to a goal from William Gallas (pictured).
  • Chelsea has not played in this competition since the 2002-03 season, when it lost 5-4 on aggregate in the first round to Norwegian side Viking FK.
  • If the Blues were to win this competition, they would have then won each European club competition in their history.
  • Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has won this competition once as a manager in the 2003-04 season when he was in charge of Valencia.

Related

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
Europa League ‎(EL)‎ Feb 21, 2013 Chelsea 1 - Sparta Praha 1
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  • Match Report
  • Play by Play
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Europa League ‎(EL)‎ Feb 14, 2013 Sparta Praha 0 - Chelsea 1
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
31Tomas VaclikGoalkeeper
19Matěj HybšDefender
-Tomas ZapotocnyDefender
4Ondrej SvejdikMidfielder
8Marek MatejovskyMidfielder
22Josef HusbauerMidfielder
23Ladislav KrejciMidfielder
25Mario HolekMidfielder
6Lukas VachaMidfielder
10Václav KadlecStriker
-David LafataStriker
1Marek ČechGoalkeeper
3Manuel PamićDefender
-Vlastimil VidličkaDefender
27Roman PolomDefender
-Adam JanosMidfielder
9Leonard KweukeStriker
9Roman BednarStriker
1Petr CechGoalkeeper
28César AzpilicuetaDefender
2Branislav IvanovicDefender
24Gary CahillDefender
23Ryan BertrandDefender
17Eden HazardMidfielder
8Frank LampardMidfielder
21Marko MarinMidfielder
7RamiresMidfielder
9Fernando TorresStriker
8Juan MataStriker
21Ross TurnbullGoalkeeper
3Ashley ColeDefender
26John TerryDefender
27Nathan AkeDefender
20Paulo FerreiraDefender
11OscarMidfielder
30Yossi BenayounMidfielder

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