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  • Date:  Thursday March 7 – 17:45 GMT 
  • Location: Epet Arena, Prague
  • Teams:Sparta Prague vs Liverpool

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Liverpool travel to Prague for last 16 tie

Liverpool return to  Europa League duty on Thursday with a trip to the Epet Arena to face Sparta Prague for the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Jurgen Klopp’s side won Group E, meaning that they were not involved in the knockout stage playoffs. On the other hand, Brian Priske’s Sparta needed to produce a stirring comeback to get the better of  to pull off Galatasaray, who had dropped into the competition from the Champions League.

Sparta Prague

Sparta Prague’s journey in the 2023-24 Europa League has been quite the rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows that have brought them to a showdown with Liverpool in the knockout stage. Despite initial hurdles in the Champions League preliminary rounds and the Europa League qualifiers, Sparta Prague managed to secure their spot in the group stage.

In Group C, they clinched the runner-up position, closely trailing behind Rangers and Real Betis. Their clash with Galatasaray in the knockout stage proved to be quite a challenge, especially after suffering a 3-2 defeat in Turkey. However, they staged an impressive comeback in the second leg, netting three goals in just 20 minutes to secure a 4-1 victory and advance with a 6-4 aggregate score.

As they prepare to face Liverpool in the Europa League quarter-finals, Sparta Prague find themselves in good form domestically, maintaining their lead in the Fortuna Liga standings. Despite a recent draw against their fierce rivals, Slavia Prague, Sparta remains undefeated at home since their Champions League qualifying exit to Copenhagen back in August.

Nevertheless, Sparta Prague face daunting historical statistics against English teams, having only managed one win in their last 16 European encounters against English opponents. Nonetheless, with their recent form and home advantage, they will be looking to defy the odds and make further strides in the Europa League.

Captain Ladislav Krejci, the creative Veljko Birmancevic and left-back Matej Rynes all return to Europa League action after being suspended for the second leg against Galatasaray. 

Sparta are missing right-back Andreas Vindheim, who is out for the season. Central defender Filip Panak was substituted at half time in the weekend’s draw with Slavia Prague and remains doubtful. Asger Sorensen and Patrik Vydra are poised to come into the defence. Jan Kuchta, who has scored in his last three appearances in the Europa League, is set to lead the line.

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Liverpool’s journey to the Czech Republic is marked by a mix of controversial wins and daunting tasks. Their recent victory over Nottingham Forest, fueled by a disputed drop-ball decision and Darwin Nunez’s late heroics, underscored their tenacity and fortunate breaks, securing their first-ever Premier League away win against the Tricky Trees and maintaining their lead over Manchester City in the title race.

Under Jurgen Klopp’s guidance, Liverpool remains in contention for a historic quadruple, having already clinched the EFL Cup and advanced to the FA Cup quarter-finals against Manchester United. As they resume their Europa League campaign, Liverpool’s progression from Group E was not without its challenges, with defeats to Toulouse and Union SG highlighting their vulnerability in the competition.

However, Liverpool face a significant hurdle in their European aspirations: they have failed to win any of their last 11 Europa League knockout games away from home, dating back to the 2009-10 season. Despite this historical setback, Liverpool’s recent form, boasting a commendable six-game winning streak across all competitions, offers hope despite injury concerns plaguing key players.

Looking back at their previous encounter with Sparta Prague in the 2010-11 last 32, Liverpool’s previous visit to Czech soil resulted in a goalless draw, emphasising the tough task that awaits them once again. As they embark on their latest European campaign, Liverpool aims to defy history and continue their pursuit of continental success in a season marked by drama, resilience, and high stakes.

Klopp received a quadruple fitness boost in the win at Forest, where match-winner Nunez, Wataru Endo, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andrew Robertson were all able to play some part. 

There is still, however, a lengthy injury list at Anfield. Joel Matip (knee), Ben Doak (knee), Diogo Jota (knee), Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee), Thiago Alcantara (muscle), Curtis Jones (shin), Alisson Becker (hamstring), Stefan Bajcetic (calf) and Ryan Gravenberch (ankle) are all ruled out.

Mohamed Salah, however,  is thought to be close to a return. The Egyptian forward is back in training, however, Klopp is unlikely to rush him back against Sparta. Especially with Manchester City to come at the weekend.


Liverpool have managed their injury crisis extremely well. However, with a stretched squad, given their significant absentees and a meeting with title rivals Manchester City, Liverpool may be content to come away from Prague with a draw, ready to complete the job at Anfield.

Sparta are a tough side to break down at home, they have not conceded more than one goal in any home match since September.We don’t think Sparta have enough to beat Liverpool, but a draw would not come as a big surprise. We predict a low scoring draw. 

Given the quality of Liverpool’s youngsters a win for the Reds would not be a shock. It could be worth going Double Chance.

Sparta Prague vs Liverpool
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, Europa League, Round of 16, First Leg
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Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives. Editorial Promise