Europa League Preview: Sparta Prague - Chelsea

Chris Teale
Europa League Preview: Sparta Prague - Chelsea




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


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.



  • 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.