Long: It's a massive game

By SFC Media Wed 23 Nov Sparta vs Saints

Shane Long is confident Southampton have what it takes to secure a vital victory against Sparta Praha in Group K.

Claude Puel’s men know that three points could secure qualification to the knockout stages, while their hosts, who lead the group, can also progress.

And Long feels the side they come up against will be markedly different to the one which they defeated by a 3-0 scoreline at St Mary’s.

“It is a massive game for both sides. For them it could mean qualification from the group and the same for us," said Long.

“They are a different team to the one we faced in the first game.

“They’ve come on a lot and are playing with a lot more confidence on back of a lot of good results.

“It will be a hard test for us but we are prepared for that. We have the players to go out there and win but we know it won’t be easy.”

Sparta Praha are now under the stewardship of David Holoubek, who has overseen an upturn in fortunes with four games producing three wins and a draw in Europe at their Generali Stadium.

It is a ground that Long is familiar with after playing against the Czech Republic for the Republic of Ireland, but the forward feels Saints can stand up to a potentially hostile atmosphere as they look to finish as league leaders.

He added: “I think getting the win last time against Milan, we deserved more out there, but to get the three points put us back to where we want to be in the group.

“There is absolutely no reason why we can’t win the next two games and top the group. We’ll take it one game at a time but I believe in our squad and capabilities.

“It is always going to be hostile when you are away from home in an international game, but I am expecting more of the same here. It is going to be a tough place to come.”

“It's just about keeping cool in the atmosphere that's going to be there tomorrow night.”

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