Sparta Prague will be hoping to overturn one goal deficit when they host a strong Villarreal side for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter final fixture.
Goals from Cédric Bakambu on either halves helped Villarreal to earn a 2-1 lead, but Jakub Brabec’s first half strike gives Praha a much deserved away goal to take it to the second leg. The yellow submarines have every reason to be upset for not taking full advantage of their home advantage and are very lucky to even come away with a win. It is all left to play for and both teams have equal chances of progressing to the semifinals.
Sparta Prague are unbeaten in their six home matches in Europa League this season, with 4 wins and 2 draws. They were also unbeaten in 12 matches, both and away prior to the first leg loss to Villarreal, with 7 wins and 5 draws. And the Czech side have scored at least a goal in each of their 13 games in the competition so far.
Jakub Brabec’s 45th minutes strike was the first goal conceded by Villarreal at home in this season’s Europa League competition, before keeping a clean sheets in the previous 5 matches.
Villarreal are unbeaten in their last 10 UEFA Europa League matches, with 7 wins and 3 draws. Their overall away record in this season’s competition reads 1 win, 3 draws and 1 loss, all of the three draws coming in their last three matches on the road.
Villarreal’s overall away record is not at the best as they have won just once in their last 9 matches on the road in all competitions.
Sparta Prague: Team News
Sparta Praha have a big crisis in defense as they will be without their three key defenders who started in the first leg. Jakub Barbec and Costa Nhamoinesu are suspended, while Mario Holek is injured.
To add further misery both Lukáš Vácha and Ondřej Zahustel are confirmed to miss the tie due to their respective injuries.
The absense of key personal will force head-coach Zdeněk Ščasný to alter his formation to a 4-4-2 system and Konate is likely to play in defense.
Sparta Prague: Team News (4-4-2)
Bicik – Konaté, Mareček, Kováč, Frýdek – Fatai, Dočkal, Matějovský, Krejčí – Juliš, Lafata.
Villarreal: Team News
The defensive duo of Daniele Bonera and Mateo Musacchio are sidelined for the yellow submarines due to injury. While Jonathan Dos Santos is nearing his return from injury and he is unlikely to be risked here.
Villarreal: Expected Starting Line-up (4-4-2)
Asenjo – Jaume Costa, Victor Ruiz, Bailly, Mario – Suarez, Pina, Bruno, Trigueros – Soldado, Bakambu.
Sparta Prague vs Villarreal: Head-to-Head Stats
The first leg meeting was the first ever meeting between the two sides in a UEFA branded tournament, which ended 2-1 in favour of Villarreal.
Villarreal can boast of a 6 match unbeaten record against Czech teams, with 4 wins and 2 draws. They were drawn alongside Sparta’s domestic rivals Viktoria Plzen in this season’s group stage, drawing 3-3 away and winning 1-0 at home.
Villarreal’s away record against Czech oppositions from 3 matches is 1 win and 2 draws.
Sparta Prague have met Spanish oppositions 18 times in UEFA competitions and their record reads 5 wins, 2 draws and 11 defeats. Their home record against Spanish opponents from 9 matches is 4 wins and 5 draws.
Sparta Prague vs Villarreal: Prediction
Villarreal have drawn their last three away games in the competition and a draw will be enough to see them progress to the semifinals. They have an unfinished a job against an unpredictable and extremely dangerous Sparta Prague, who will be playing at their own backyard.
Sparta Prague are plagued with injury and this is a bitter blow to their. They must consider rather unlucky after having performed magnificently in the tournament so far. If the Czech side were playing with a full strength squad, I would have definitely gone for a win in their favour, but I can’t see it happening now.
Villarreal are certainly favourites to win this one and I expect some end-to-end attractive attacking football. My score prediction for the match is 2-1 in favour of the yellow submarines.
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