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Sparta Prague v Chelsea
UEFA Europa League
Toyota Arena, Prague
Thursday 14 February, 2013
Chelsea failed to finish second in their Champions League group which means they enter the Europa League at this point. They will be looking for any sort of advantage ahead of the second leg against one of Europe’s most experienced club sides.
If you’re looking to bet now on the game, Chelsea are a comfortable 1.1 via Unibet to go through to the next round in Europe. While a score draw would be sufficient, Chelsea could rack up a big away win here if they can capitalise on their opponent’s weaknesses.
Sparta Prague find themselves third in the Czech league table. They have a fairly decent record of nine wins, four draws and three defeats at home so far this season. They have conceded just one more goal at home than the current league leaders Plzen but have the worst attack out of the top four sides.
Injuries and Suspensions
Sparta have no major injury worries ahead of the match with Vaclav Kadlec expected to start in attack and Tomas Zapotocny expected to take his place in the defence of the team. Bekim Balaj is also expected to start after shaking off a slight knock from a recent league match.
You can get odds of 9/2 if you think Sparta can pull off an unlikely win.
Chelsea have been meandering along in the Premier League. They sit third, some way off of the two Manchester clubs but comfortably within the top four. They have dropped points away from home in the league with three draws and three defeats. They have won all of their other matches.
Injuries and Suspensions
Chelsea are likely to be without captain John Terry, suffering from a reoccurrence of a knee problem while Oriol Romeu remains a long term absentee with a similar problem. Chelsea welcome back Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel after Africa Cup of Nations duty with Nigeria.
The bookies make Chelsea the clear favourite at odds on of 4/6.
Sparta played very well to secure qualification ahead of Athletic Bilbao. At home during the group stage they didn’t lose a match with a very respectable record of two wins and one draw, seven goals scored and only three goals conceded.
Chelsea did not have a great time during their group quest in the Champions League. They finished third on ten points and missed out to Shakhtar because of their head to head record. Chelsea did score more goals than any other team in the group stage with 16.
Head to Head: These teams met during the 2003/2004 Champions League with the first match being drawn 0-0 at Stamford Bridge before Chelsea secured a narrow 1-0 win away in the Czech Republic.
Sparta Prague are on a very positive run of form having lost only one match in their last five. Three of these matches have been draws but they go into this game on the back of a 3-1 home win.
Chelsea have won one and lost one so far in February. They also drew four out of their last five matches in January which shows inconsistency and the last time Chelsea won back-to-back games came in December.
Despite Chelsea’s recent inconsistency they should have far too much for Sparta to deal with. Chelsea are getting key players back which means others can enjoy a brief rest ahead of more important matches. Sparta Prague 0-2 Chelsea.
The bookies will give you odds of 7/1 if you want to back this score line.