Match Preview: Sparta Praha vs Saints

By SFC Media Wed 23 Nov Sparta vs Saints

Get all the information you need ahead of Southampton's Group K clash against Sparta Praha at Generali Stadium, with our comprehensive match preview.

What’s at stake?

Both teams could potentially qualify for the knockout stages, although the process is a little simpler for Sparta Praha.

The Group K leaders will advance to the last 32 with a point or better at Generali Arena.

For Saints, a win would put them top of the standings, although that might not necessarily guarantee them a spot in the knockout rounds.

They would also need Hapoel Be’er Sheva to fail to win at home to Internazionale.

The safety net for Saints is that, whatever happens on Thursday night, a home win against Be’er Sheva in their final Group K game would see them through.

Team news

Claude Puel has included 21 players in his travelling party, with captain José Fonte, Matt Targett, Harrison Reed and Dušan Tadić staying behind.

James Ward-Prowse has recovered from the injury that ruled him out against Liverpool and he is joined by fellow Academy graduates Josh Sims, Jack Stephens and Sam McQueen.

 For the hosts, Matêj Pulkrab is suspended after picking up three yellow cards and they could also be without the influential David Lafata and Mario Holek through illness.

Form guide:

Sparta Praha’s last five:

Karviná (h) W 3-0
Slovan Liberec (a) D 0-0
Hapoel Be’er Sheva (h) W 2-0 (Europa League)
Príbram (h) W 4-0
Zlín (a) L 1-3 aet (Czech cup)

Southampton’s last five:

Liverpool (h) D 0-0
Hull City (a) L 1-2
Internazionale (h) W 2-1 (Europa League)
Chelsea (h) L 0-2
Sunderland (h) W 1-0 (EFL Cup)

Top performers

David Lafata has been in fine goalscoring form

Vastly-experienced midfielder and captain David Lafata recently netted a hat-trick in the 4-0 victory over Dukla Pribram and his goalscoring form has continued.

In the last Europa League outing against Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Lafata doubled the advantage after a Ben Bitton own goal had give them the lead.

Add to that a goal against MFK Karvina in their last league fixture and he could be the one to watch for a side who have been revitalized by the appointment of David Holoubek.

Virgil van Dijk has been a tower of strength at the back for Saints in recent weeks, and turned in another fine display to help keep Liverpool at bay.

In the Europa League, he scored to inspire a famous turnaround against Internazionale at St Mary’s as well as winningan impressive 87.5% of his duels.

Previous meetings

Only one between the sides, which came at St Mary’s this season, in the opening round of matches in Group K.

Saints triumphed 3-0, with Charlie Austin’s early penalty setting them on the way, before the striker headed in a second midway through the first half. Jay Rodriguez then wrapped things in the 90th minute.

Did you know?

- Southampton will be visiting Czech Republic for the first time in European competition

- Sparta Prague have won all three of their European home games this season, including qualifiers, netting eight goals

- Southampton have conceded just six goals in their last 10 European games (inc. qualifiers), never conceding more than once in a game.