Europa League: Chelsea v Sparta Prague match preview
A look ahead to tonight’s Europa League fixture at Stamford Bridge
Thursday 21 February 2013
Chelsea, who currently sit third in the Premier League, have a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Prague and will be looking to seal their place in the round of 16 tonight.
Rafael Benitez’s side are aiming for their fourth successive victory in all competitions but they will be without striker Demba Ba, who is cup-tied having played for Newcastle earlier in the competition, so Fernando Torres is expected to start up front. Petr Cech will come up against one of his former sides, having played for Sparta from 2001-02 before moving to Rennes.
Visitors Sparta sit third in the Czech top division and trail leaders Viktoria Plzen by three points, but they have not played a league game since November 25 due to a winter break. Sparta have former Chelsea player Jiri Jarosik in their ranks.
KICK-OFF: Thursday, 8.05pm
Sparta Prague 0 Chelsea 1 (Oscar), Europa League, Round of 32, February 2013
Chelsea 0 Sparta Prague 0, Champions League, group stage, November 2003
Sparta Prague 0 Chelsea 1 (Gallas), Champions League, group stage, September 2003
Chelsea are unbeaten in nine European home games, with eight wins and one draw, since a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the 2010/11 Champions League quarter-finals.
The Blues are within two goals of scoring their 300th in UEFA club competition, while the next goal they concede will be the 150 they have let in. This is their 175th UEFA game.
Chelsea are aiming to become the fourth side to have won all three of UEFA’s major club competitions (after Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich), having won the Cup Winners’ Cup twice (in 1970/71 and 1997/98) and the Champions League last season.
Sparta are within two goals of scoring their 100th in this competition, and this is their 72nd game at this level.
Sparta have failed to taste victory in their last six trips to England, drawing one and losing five since they won 3-2 at Watford in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup third round.
Sparta have not won any of their last four European away games, drawing three and losing one.
Chelsea to win: 7/20
Sparta Prague to win: 8/1
TV: Live on ESPN at 8.05pm, highlights on ITV4 at 6pm on Friday.
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