Stamford Bridge hosts Europa League football for the first time with Chelsea noses in front in the tie. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton set out the second-leg task…
Victory over Brentford in the FA Cup kept Chelsea on course to play a possible 71 games this season, excluding replays. The team has managed three successive wins for the first time since late December and in each of them the Blues have scored within a minute of a substitute taking the field.
Juan Mata opened the scoring for Chelsea on Sunday for the eighth time this season in all competitions and his career strike rate in the FA Cup is now five goals in 10 matches.
Prague arrive in London knowing they face a difficult task overcoming the 1-0 first-leg lead earned by Oscar's clever strike a week ago. The Londoners have not lost at Stamford Bridge in UEFA tournaments since Manchester United's 1-0 success in 2011.
The nine matches since have brought eight wins and one draw, with an aggregate 28 goals for the hosts - more than three per match. Fifty-five years of history also weighs heavily against the Czechs' chances.
The Pensioners have previously been victorious in the first legs of knockout ties nine times in Europe and have progressed to the next round on each occasion: Benfica in 2011/12, FC Copenhagen in 2010/11, Liverpool in 2008/09, Stuttgart and Zilina in 2003/04, Betis in 1997/98, Jeunesse Hautcharage in 1971/72, CSKA Sofia in 1970/71 and BK Frem in 1958/60.
Should Fernando Torres make the scoresheet tonight he will become the first Chelsea player to score in seven different competitions over the same season. Until this season the club record was held by Andriy Shevchenko, who netted in five tournaments during 2006/07.
The Blues have struck 17 times in Europe this season, the most for any club in UEFA competitions. Two goals against Sparta tonight would bring our all-time UEFA tally to 300.
With a total of 105 goals in all competitions Chelsea are the second highest scorers across Europe's five biggest leagues. Barcelona are the continent's most prolific with 115. Real Madrid are third with 96.
With several matches remaining that tally could come close to our record, which stands at 142 in 2009/10. The next closest are 121 in 1964/5, 117 in 1960/61 and 2006/07, 112 in 2011/12 and 110 in 2008/09.
The winners of this tie face a Round of 16 encounter with either runaway league leaders in Romania, Steaua Bucharest, or Ajax, currently second in the Netherlands' Eredivisie. Ajax lead 2-0 from the first leg at the Amsterdam ArenA with the second leg tonight in Bucharest. Should Chelsea progress we will be away in the first leg.
Selection of the 16 second-leg Europa League ties tonight
Lyon v Tottenham 6pm (agg 1-2)
Metalist Kharkiv v Newcastle 6pm (agg 0-0)
Chelsea v Sparta Prague 8.05pm (agg 1-0)
Liverpool v Zenit St Petersburg 8.05pm (agg 0-2)
Steaua Bucharest v Ajax 8.05pm (agg 0-2)
If the score after 90 minutes is 1-0 to Sparta then extra time will be played and if necessary penalties. The away goals rule applies so any other score will result in the game ending after normal time.
Chelsea have won three of our last five penalty shoot-outs, the last being at the Allianz Arena at the end of the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
Our only previous competitive meetings with Sparta Prague came in the 2003/04 group stage of the Champions League in a pool including Beşiktaş and Lazio. William Gallas helped us to a 1-0 win in Prague and a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge which secured our place in the knockout stages. Sparta also qualified for the last 16 by finishing runners-up.
Supporters of any vintage might have experienced a sense of déjà-vu last Thursday in the Generali Arena when Oscar coolly found the net after a delightful move. A Chelsea side often under pressure but refusing to buckle and stinging Sparta late in the game had the ring of that group stage match in 2003/04 about it.
Back then Gallas stole in to score the only goal of the game with five minutes to go - three later than the Brazilian's recent winner.
The 0-0 at the Bridge later in the group was a dull affair but sufficient to secure a place in the last 16, eventually to face and overcome Stuttgart. The Blues bowed out in the semi-finals to Monaco that season, having memorably seen off Arsenal in the quarters.
The Cup Winners' Cup visit of another Prague side in 1994/95 was more eventful. It was Chelsea's first competitive European match in 23 years and Stamford Bridge was in the throes of redevelopment on a night of torrential rain.
The north and south ends of the stadium had had the stands removed - the north end was board up while the old Shed had been replaced by temporary seating exposed to the raw elements - limiting the crowd to just over 22,000.
Visitors Viktoria Žižkov were blown away in the opening exchanges, with Paul Furlong (pictured below) and Frank Sinclair putting the hosts 2-0 up inside five minutes. The Czechs gradually gathered themselves and hit back twice through attacking midfielder Jozef Majoros to level the scores before half-time.
Glenn Hoddle's men rallied again after the break and David Rocastle restored the lead on 54 minutes. Dennis Wise then raised the roof with a thunderous left-foot strike to complete the scoring at 4-2. Again the Blues reached the semi-final in the competition, this time losing to Gus Poyet's Real Zaragoza, who - thanks, famously, to Nayim from the halfway line - beat Arsenal in the final.
Chelsea's biggest away win in Europe
Chelsea 13-0 Jeunesse Hautcharage - 29/09/1971 - European Cup Winners' Cup first round second leg
Sparta's biggest away win in Europe
Anorthosis Famagusta 0-6 Sparta Prague - 20/09/1964 - European Cup Winners' Cup preliminary round second leg
Chelsea last played at Stamford Bridge in this competition: 3,808
Sparta beat an English team away in UEFA competition: 10,683
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,832
Liverpool won the league: 8,327
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