Opposition View: Sparta Praha

By SFC Media Thu 15 Sep Saints vs Sparta

Sparta Praha manager Zdeněk Ščasný expects his team to come under pressure from Southampton tonight, but the Czech side are confident they can still hurt the hosts.

Sparta are the visitors to St Mary's for the opening game of the UEFA Europa League group stage, with kick-off set for 8.05pm BST.

Saints' opponents finished second in the Czech top flight last season, and occupy the same position in the early stages of this campaign.

But Ščasný indicated that he is expecting a difficult test this evening. "We have seen some video and we are aware it will be a game from the first to the last minute," he said.

"They are very good in attack –they showed it in the last game against Arsenal – they have a good defence and they know how to put pressure on the opponent."

Midfielder Lukáš Vácha is hopeful that Sparta will be able to pose a significant threat on the counter attack, however.

"We know it's a very strong team, but we do hope we will have quick breaks and we have to watch the set pieces," he said.

"We are all looking forward to this game. It is our first game in the competition and as we have been informed it will be loud and we expect a stormy atmosphere.

"But it's not the first time we've played in front of a big crowd. We will just concentrate on our own game."

Sparta do have injury concerns over a number of key players, with former Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický, who rejoined the club last month, a doubt, along with fellow midfielders Martin Frýdek and Bořek Dočkal, as well as defender Ondřej Zahustel.

Ščasný said: "We will have to make some changes. Unfortunately, some key players will be missing with the team, but we won't have a problem with our distribution."