Chelsea - Sparta Prague Preview: Blues out to seal last 16 spot at Stamford Bridge
Having won a dour first leg 1-0 away from home thanks to a goal from Oscar, the Premier League side welcome the Czechs to their home ground for the return fixture
By Chris Teale
Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Bertrand
Marin, Mata, Oscar
Zapotocny, Hybs, Svejdik, Pamic
Vacha, Matejovsky, Jarosik, Husbauer, Krejci
For the home side, Demba Ba is cup-tied having appeared for Newcastle in the competition this season, so Fernando Torres should lead the line.
Chelsea may start with a strong side as they look to wrap up the tie, with manager Rafael Benitez expected to rotate if a victory is secured.
Meanwhile, the Blues have no new injury or suspension worries ahead of this game, with David Luiz available again.
For Sparta, Jiri Jarosik missed the first leg with injury but should be fit for this game and, despite his poor finishing in the first leg, striker David Lafata should continue up front.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The first leg of this tie was Chelsea’s first game in this competition since the 2002-03 season.
- Brazilian Oscar (pictured) was on the pitch for less than a minute before he scored the winning goal in the first leg last week.
- Before the first-leg clash, these teams last met in the group stage of the 2003-04 Champions League, with the Blues taking four points from the two games.
- Sparta Prague have never won a major club competition organised by Uefa.
- Sparta captain Marek Matejovsky spent two seasons with Reading in the Premier League, making 51 appearances for the Royals and scoring twice.
- The club’s most famous run in a European competition came in the first ever Champions League in the 1991-92 season, when they defeated Rangers and Marseille to reach the semi-final stage.
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Top 3 Predictions
Chelsea FC 3-0 Sparta Praha
- 21.6 %
Chelsea FC 2-0 Sparta Praha
- 15.69 %
Chelsea FC 3-1 Sparta Praha
- 11.94 %
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Feb 21, 2013||Chelsea FC 1 - Sparta Praha 1|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Feb 14, 2013||Sparta Praha 0 - Chelsea FC 1|
|Dec 7, 2013||Stoke 3 - Chelsea FC 2||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||Sunderland 3 - Chelsea FC 4||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Chelsea FC 3 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|Nov 26, 2013||Basel 1 - Chelsea FC 0||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||West Ham 0 - Chelsea FC 3||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
Juan Mata has been in inspired form this season for the Blues, and will likely provide the biggest attacking threat to Sparta Prague’s defenders during this game. The Spaniard is Chelsea’s top scorer this season in all competitions, and will be keen to help put the tie to bed as early as possible.
He may have been slightly wasteful in front of goal in the first leg, but David Lafata represents Sparta’s best chance of getting back into this tie. The Czech Republic international moved to Prague earlier this year, and will need to be on top form if his side are to progress against the Premier League side.
They may have struggled in the first leg, but the Blues will be confident of securing victory in front of their home fans. Things may be difficult if Sparta score an early goal, but regardless Chelsea should take a relatively comfortable win.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed