Defending European champions Chelsea will look to establish themselves as one of the top sides in Europe again when they take on Sparta Prague in the Europa League Round of 32 this week.
Having become the first ever defending champions of the Champions League to be eliminated in the group stages, the West London club will be desperate to show that they are still a top team throughout world football with a solid showing here.
However, their opponents are certainly no pushovers, having won through their Europa League group to make it thus far and will definitely challenge the Blues here as a result. Particularly given that this fixture will be played in the Czech Republic at Sparta's home ground—a venue they have excelled at throughout the domestic and European season so far.
Remarkably, Sparta have conceded just five goals in their eight domestic home games so far, and have ended up winning seven of those eight as a result.
Their attacking unit is excellent and they should triumph over their defensively-minded opponents here, but if we've learned anything from Rafa Benitez's men this year, it's that no amount of attacking talent can ensure a victory.
We're no doubt in for another fascinating night of Europa League action; read on for all the need-to-know viewing information plus a last-minute preview.
Date: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Venue: Toyota Arena, Prague
Start time: 1 p.m. ET (6 p.m. British time)
Live Stream and TV Info
Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Soccer 2Go will both cover the match throughout the United States, according to Live Soccer TV, while the fixture will also be covered by ESPN UK and ESPN HD throughout the United Kingdom.
Click here for a full preview of this Europa League clash.
Chelsea will likely enter this match as firm favorites, and deservedly so given their attacking talent and superiority over their opponents.
However, the home side are a very tough team to break down when playing in Prague, and Chelsea haven't traveled well in their European fixtures so far this year.
I'm looking for an upset goal by the hosts early that will be canceled out by the Blues midway through the first half. Expect the West London club to push early then in the second, but defend once they realize they have the away-goal advantage in the bag, and will try to finish off the tie when they do battle again at Stamford Bridge next week.
Final score: Sparta Prague 1, Chelsea 1
What do you think will happen in this Europa League match?
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