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Key battles
Chelsea will still be without key players for the first action in this competition since2002. Demba Ba is ineligible as he has played for Newcastle in this competition, David Luíz is suspended and Africa Cup of Nations winners Victor Moses and John Mikel Obi are not in contention to return.

Luíz's absence means that Ramires will probably move back from the forward role in which he was again effective against Wigan. Others are building up attacking momentum though: Fernando Torres has made three goals in three games, right-back Cesar Azpilicueta has four in four in the league, while Frank Lampard has hit goals in five consecutive Premier League games.

Sparta will also be wary of the threat from Oscar, who appears to like European competition - he is our top scorer on the continent with five.

Sparta used a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout the group stage, played tight and looked for the counter punch. They like to play the ball out from the back and Chelsea's bustling three in attacking midfield will be looking to pounce at any opportunity.

The Blues defensive disorder has been a cause concern recently and Rafael Benitez must be eager to deploy a fit-again John Terry if only for his organisational qualities.

Prague have plenty of sharpness upfront too. Young attacker Vaclav Kadlec is their joint top scorer in this tournament with three (including both in the 2-2 draw at Feyenoord), though the man he shares that title with, powerful Camerounian Léonard Kweuke is often preferred in the solo role. Neither should be underestimated, especially supported by Albanian playmaker Bekim Balaj, who has scored five times in 10 games since his arrival from KF Tirana.

The Czechs have a registered a squad for the remainder of this tournament that is six players lighter than in the group stages. Yet during the winter break they bought prolific 31-year-old centre-forward David Lafata from Jablonec and Lukáš Vácha, a defensive midfielder, from Slovan Liberec.

More experience was added to their Europa League squad list in journeyman Roman Bednár, 29, who was unattached and last seen playing for West Brom against our U21s in 2011. He has lost three matches against our seniors at an aggregate of 11 goals for the Blues. He is pictured below.


Even more familiar is Jiri Jarošík, a Premier League champion with the Blues in 2004/05 who has now figured in 72 UEFA matches. He, however is out injured for tonight's first leg with hamstring trouble.

Depending on team selection, both teams could have a Cech in goal. Sparta's Marek Cech is not related to Petr. Former Newcastle man Pavel Srníček is the Czech side's goalkeeping coach.

Squad fitness news
Oriol Romeu (knee) is the only Chelsea player definitely ruled out due to injury.

Sparta will be without midfielders Jiri Jarosik and Pavel Kaderabek, and forward Tomas Prikryl.

Click on tabs above for more briefing.

A few tickets remain for next week's second leg at Stamford Bridge - on general sale.


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Petr Cech played for Sparta as a 19-year-old in the 2001/02 season before moving to French side Rennes at the end of that season.

Although we are making our debut in the Europa League, we have played three unsuccessful seasons in its predecessor the UEFA Cup, which itself succeeded the non-UEFA Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

Rd 1 St Gallen H 1-0 A 0-2
Rd 1 Levski Sofia H 3-0 A 2-0
Rd 2 Hapoel Tel-Aviv A 0-2 H 1-1
Rd 1 Viking Stavanger H 2-1 A 2-4

The Blues are looking to become the only English club to win all three major UEFA competitions having won the Champions League last season and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1971 and 1998. Three clubs that have achieved it are Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich.

Chelsea's away record against Czech teams
1994/95 Viktoria Žižkov D 0-0 Cup Winners' Cup first round second leg
2003/04 Sparta Prague  W 1-0 Champions League group stage

Chelsea's last ten years in Europe

2002/03 - UEFA Cup - first round
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners


Champions League Group E final table
P W D L F A Pts
Juventus 6 3 3 0 12 4 12
Shakhtar Donetsk 6 3 1 2 12 8 10
Chelsea 6 3 1 2 16 10 10
FC Nordsjaelland 6 0 1 5 4 22 1

Last six results
Jan 20 Arsenal (h) W 2-1
Jan 23 Swansea (League Cup SF 2 a) D 0-0
Jan 27 Brentford (FA Cup 4 a) D 2-2
Jan 30 Reading (a) D 2-2
Feb 2 Newcastle (a) L 2-3
Feb 9 Wigan (h) W 4-1


Scorers Mata 16, Torres 15 (1 pen), Lampard 12 (5 pens), E Hazard 9 (2 pens), Oscar 7 (1 pen), Cahill 6, Ivanovic 6, Ramires 6, Moses 5, D Luiz 4 (2 pens), Ba 3, Bertrand 2, Sturridge 2, Cole 1, Marin 1, Romeu 1 (pen), Terry 1, own goals 3. Total 100

Chelsea's next three games
Sun 17 Feb Brentford (FA Cup 4 replay) home Noon
 Thu 21 Feb Sparta Prague (Europa League) home 8.05pm
Sun 24 Feb Manchester City away 1.30pm


Frank Lampard needs a brace to reach 200 goals for Chelsea and four to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling.

Marko Marin scored our 100th goal of the season against Wigan in our 43rd game of the season - the second equal fastest in our history (with 2009/10). The quickest we have achieved a ton was in 1960/61 when it took 40 games.

If selected, Branislav Ivanovic will make his 200th appearance for the Blues.


Major honours
24 Czechoslovak league titles, last in 1993
12 Czechoslovak Cups, last in 1992
11 Czech Republic league titles, last in 2010
5 Czech Republic Cups, last in 2008
1 Czech Republic Super Cup in 2010

The capacity of Sparta's Generali Arena is just under 20,000. Their crowds for their group matches were Athletic Bilbao 13,752, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 10,324 and Lyon 17,121.

Sparta are unbeaten in five European games. At home their unbeaten run is 11 games (six wins, five draws) since a 0-2 defeat by MŠK Žilina in the 2010/11 Europa League play-offs.

When Sparta last reached the last 32 in 2010/11 they were beaten 1-0 on aggregate by Liverpool. Their best season in this competition was 1983/84 when they reached the quarter-finals.

Sparta Prague haven't beaten English opposition at home since 1983. Their six games since then have resulted in four defeats and two draws.

Last ten league seasons
Pos Level
2002/03 1st 1
2003/04 2nd 1
2004/05 1st 1
2005/06 5th 1
2006/07 1st 1
2007/08 2nd 1
2008/09 2nd 1
2009/10 1st 1
2010/11 2nd 1
2011/12 2nd 1


Sparta have not played a competitive game since Matchday 6 of the Europa League in December due to the winter break in their league. Since returning to training in January they have played five friendlies, the last three of which were at a training camp in Jerez, Spain.

The Czech league resumes the Sunday after our second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Mid-season friendly results
Jan 23 Dukla Banská Bystrica D 0-0
Jan 25 Ružomberok W 4-0
Feb 1 Guangzhou D 1-1
Feb 4 Krasnodar L 2-3
Feb 6 Concordia Chiajna W 3-1


Sparta's home games against English teams in Europe
1964/65 West Ham W 2-1 Cup Winners' Cup first round second leg
1970/71 Leeds L 2-3 Fairs Cup third round second leg
1983/84 Watford W 4-0 UEFA Cup third round second leg
2000/01 Arsenal L 0-1 Champions League group stage
2003/04 Chelsea L 0-1 Champions League group stage
2004/05 Man Utd D 0-0 Champions League group stage
2005/06 Arsenal L 0-2 Champions League group stage
2007/08 Arsenal L 0-2 Champions League third qualifying round 1st leg
2010/11 Liverpool D 0-0 Europa League round of 32 first leg


Ten-year European record
2002/03 - UEFA Cup second round having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2003/04 - Champions League round of 16
2004/05 - Champions League group stage
2005/06 - Champions League group stage
2006/07 - UEFA Cup group stage
2007/08 - UEFA Cup group stage having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2008/09 - UEFA Cup first round having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2009/10 - Europa League group stage having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2010/11 - Europa League round of 32 having transferred from the Champions League play-offs
2011/12 - Europa League play-offs
2012/13 - Europa League results

2012/13 Europa League results
Third qualifying round
Aug 2 FC Admira Wacker Mödling (a) W 2-0
Aug 9 FC Admira Wacker Mödling (h) D 2-2
Aug 23 Feyenoord (a) D 2-2
Aug 30 Feyenoord (h) W 2-0
Group I
Sep 20 Lyon (a) L 1-2
Oct 4 Athletic Bilbao (h) W 3-1
Oct 25 Hapoel Kiryat Shmona (h) W 3-1
Nov 8 Hapoel Kiryat Shmona (a) D 1-1
Nov 22 Lyon (h) D 1-1
Dec 6 Athletic Bilbao (a) D 0-0

Europa League scorers (excluding qualifying games):
Hušbauer 2 (1 pen), Krejčí 2, Balaj 1, Kadlec 1, Kweuke 1, Švejdík 1, Zápotočný 1. Total 9.


Europa League Group I final table
P W D L F A Pts
Lyon 6 5 1 0 14 8 16
Sparta Prague 6 2 3 1 9 6 9
Athletic Bilbao 6 1 2 3 7 9 5
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 6 0 2 4 6 13 2


Last six domestic results
Oct 31 Viktoria Žižkov (Cup a) won 4-3 on pens D 1-1aet
Nov 3 Mladá Boleslav (a) D 1-1
Nov 11 Zbrojovka Brno (h) W 2-0
Nov 17 FK Teplice (h) W 1-0
Nov 25 FK Příbram (a) D 0-0
Nov 29 Vysočina Jihlava (Cup a) D 1-1


Gambrinus Liga top six
Pld Gd Pts
1 Viktoria Plzeň 16 +16 34
2 FK Jablonec 16 +13 32
3 Sparta Prague 16 +11 31
4 Sigma Olomouc 16 +9 27
5 Mladá Boleslav 16 -1 24
6 Dukla Prague 16 +4 22


The referee is Daniele Orsato and his assistants are from Italy. He has not previously taken charge of a game featuring either side.

Demba Ba is cup-tied, having played for Newcastle United in this competition.

David Luiz is suspended for one game after receiving a third yellow card in the Champions League against Nordsjaelland.

Europa League bookings list
Players receive a one-match suspension for collecting three and five yellow cards
Sparta (11): Kadlec 2, Matĕjovský 2, Zápotočný 2, Hušbauer 1, Jarošík 1, Kaderabek 1, Kweuke 1, Pavelka 1.
Chelsea (6): D Luiz 3, Ramires 2, Cole 1

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