Sparta Prague v Southampton – Europa League
24 Nov 2016, Generali Arena, 18:00 GMT +0
Sparta will be up for this game and keen to avoid needing points from an away visit to the San Siro in the final group fixture. As a draw is enough (given their performances against possible rivals Be’er Sheva) expect a spirited but defensive and cautious approach. David Holoubek will be checking the fitness of several players before this game, with several doubtful. Midweek illnesses to Lafata and Holek will be costly if they cannot prove their fitness. That said wingers Frydek and Sural are pushing for a return. Confidence should be above average. Strong recent form and a very good home record in Europe contrasts with historic troubles against English top division sides (no victory since 1983 against Watford). Sparta will also be aware that Southampton beat them 3-0 in gameweek 1. Sparta do look a different side since Holoubek took charge though.
Southampton have taken a 21 man squad that doesn’t include Jose Fonte or Tadic, who have been left in the UK. Claude Puel is expected to rotate as usual in the Europa League, with a host of changes in all departments, though such is the balanced nature of his squad, he can make these alterations without impacting team strength. Just four players from the weekend are set to start. They’ll be looking for the win that puts them in control of the group moving forward and they’ll want to play on the front foot where possible, but they’re at their best when well organised defensively. They’ll believe they can win and would be a bit disappointed with anything less, however to get all three points they need to get in front and keep the game cagey.
Verdict & Prediction
Sparta are unbeaten at home in the competition so far (W3 D1). This should give them a large confidence boost going into the game. The last meeting of the two teams was a convincing 3-0 Southampton win. Since then Holoubek has taken charge and has dramatically altered their mind-set. It will affect the players slightly but expect Holoubek to insist that they forget the past and remember their recent resoluteness. I recommend a small stake on home team.
Prediction: Sparta Prague +0.50 AH (Same as Double Chance)
Odds: 1.86 12Bet
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