Chelsea’s Europa League adventure continues with a quarter-final first-leg trip to Slavia Prague on Thursday.
The 2013 winners are hot favourites to progress to the semi-finals of the event this time around and will travel to the Czech Republic seeking a decisive advantage against opponents who were not expected to reach this stage.
Maurizio Sarri’s men have had no problems so far in the tournament but should be wary of an outfit that so dramatically ousted Sevilla 6-5 on aggregate in the previous round.
|Game||Slavia Prague vs Chelsea|
|Date||Thursday, April 11|
|Time||8pm BST / 3pm EST|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game will be broadcast on Galavision. It can be streamed via B/R Live or Univision Deportes En Vivo.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Galavision||B/R Live / Univision Deportes En Vivo|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be broadcast on BT Sport 3 or can be streamed via BT Sport Live.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 3||BT Sport Live|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Sparta Prague squad|
|Goalkeepers||Kolar, Kovar, Kuciak|
|Defenders||Ngadeu Ngadjui, Deli, Kudela, Vlcek, Boril, Zeleny, Coufal, Frydrych|
|Midfielders||Soucek, Kral, Husbauer, Sevcik, Masopust, Zmrhal, Traore|
|Forwards||Stoch, Baluta, Van Buren, Olayinka, Skoda|
Confirmed Slavia Prague starting XI: Kolar; Coufal, Deli, Ngadeu Ngaddjui, Boril, Traore, Kral, Masopust, Sevcik, Stoch, Olayinka
|Goalkeepers||Kepa, Caballero, Bulka|
|Defenders||Rudiger, Alonso, Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Emerson|
|Midfielders||Jorginho, Kante, Hazard, Barkley, Pedro, Loftus-Cheek, Ampadu, Hudson-Odoi, Moses, Willian, Kovacic|
Confirmed Chelsea starting XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Alonso; Barkley, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Giroud, Willian
Betting & Match Odds
Chelsea are the strong favourites at 7/10 while Slavia Prague can be backed at 19/4, and a draw is priced at 14/5.
Maurizio Sarri can salvage some pride from a testing first season at Chelsea by securing the club’s place in the Champions League again next time around, either by finishing in the top four of the Premier League or by winning the Europa League.
The domestic route has been cleared to some extent thanks to a three-match winning sequence that continued on Monday against West Ham, when an inspirational display from Eden Hazard led them to a 2-0 success.
Such was the Belgian’s excellence, it only fuelled rumours that he might depart this summer for Real Madrid, and while he has rejected such speculation, there is a fear that it might draw his focus as the season reaches a vital juncture.
There is no doubt as to the importance of the 28-year-old to the Stamford Bridge outfit, with Sarri slapping a price tag of more than £100 million ($130m) on him and Callum Hudson-Odoi describing him as an "idol".
Those fears, however, will have to be placed on the backburner before the midweek Europa League tie in Prague.
After emphatic victories over Malmo (5-1) and Dynamo Kiev (8-0), the Blues can afford to approach this match with a sense of confidence, though their opponents have already proven themselves worthy of a place in the last eight.
Slavia negotiated a group containing Bordeaux, Zenit St Petersburg and Copenhagen before ousting Genk (4-1) and Sevilla (6-5 after extra-time) in the knockout phase.
The victory over the Spanish side was a particularly special affair, as they rallied from behind in extra-time to snatch a last-gasp winner and send the Eden Arena into hysterics.
“It was a marvellous and magical night. To score the winner against such a strong team in the dying minutes of extra time: what more could we wish for? This may not happen again in my life,” coach Jindrich Trpisovsky said after the match.
Certainly, Chelsea will represent a notable step up and the Czechs will be fearful of the manner in which the Blues dismantled Dynamo Kiev – the side that sent them out of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate in August.