What : Sparta Prague vs Chelsea,Europa League round of 32
Where : Generali Arena — Praha
When : February 14, 2013 6:00 PM GMT
Referee : D. Orsato
After a disappointing Champions League campaign this year which saw the defending champions Chelsea exit the competition in the group stages, they now enter the Europa League and face Sparta Prague, who are in the same position in their domestic league as Chelsea are in the EPL.
Sparta Prague :
Sparta Prague have not played a competitive match since December due to their league’s winter break.
They are unbeaten at home in 11 matches and will count on that stat to stop the European Champions.
The attacking trio of Vaclav Kadlec,David Lafata and David Krefci will be their key men up front.
David Lafata joined the club in January after a great spell with Jablonec 97 and he was also the top scorer in the Czech league for the last 2 years.
Probable Team :
Vidlicka, Svejdik, Zapotocny, Pamic
Husbauer, Vacek, Matejovsky
The main talking point will be the availability of club captain John Terry who has traveled with the club. In all likeliness he looks set to be benched as he is reportedly not yet 100% fit.
Demba Ba is cup tied as he has already played this competition with Newcastle earlier this year and will be ineligible for the match and David Luiz will also miss out as he is suspended.
Gary Cahill seems to have recovered the knock he picked up in the weekend’s match against Wigan and Marin could be given a rare start after he scored his first Chelsea goal in that same match.
But this game will be important for one particular person : Petr Cech.
Petr Cech will start against the club he played for as a youngster and it was feared that he would miss this tie after he broke his little finger in the 3-2 loss against Newcastle.
After that game he was quoted saying, “I was waiting for 12 years to play against a Czech club in the European cups. If I should miss this chance, it would be ironic. I can’t wait another 12 years, so I hope I will be ready to play.”
In the build up for this match, Cech also said :”The game against us will be their first competitive match since December. ”They recently signed David Lafata, who has been the top scorer in the Czech Republic for the past two seasons, as well as Roman Bednar, who used to play for West Bromwich Albion”. ”They will have options, and they are a team with a good blend of young, hungry players and experienced ones.”
”For them, it will be the biggest game of their careers, so that’s a danger because they will want to show they can do well against us”, he added.
Probable Team :
Azpilicueta, Ivanovich, Cahill, Bertrand
Sparta Prague 1-3 Chelsea
It should be a pretty easy game for Chelsea and the only thing which could prevent them from scoring at least 2 or 3 would be the chilly weather conditions in Prague.