UEFA Europa League - 2020/21 SeasonMatch press kits
|SK Slavia Praha||Eden Arena - PragueThursday 11 March 2021|
18.55CET (18.55 local time) Round of 16, First leg
Czech champions Slavia Praha re-encounter British opposition in the round of 16 as they take on a Rangers side who have gone 11 games unbeaten in Europe this season and were crowned Scottish champions at the weekend.
• Slavia made up for a UEFA Champions League play-off defeat by convincingly coming through a UEFA Europa League section headed by Bayer Leverkusen with 12 points before knocking out England's Leicester City in the round of 32 (0-0 h, 2-0 a).
• Rangers topped their UEFA Europa League group in impressive style during the autumn, doing the double over both Lech Poznań and Standard Liège as well as holding Benfica to two draws. In the round of 32 they posted two further wins against Belgian opposition, seeing off Antwerp 9-5 on aggregate (4-3 a, 5-2 h) in the highest-scoring UEFA Europa League knockout phase tie of all time.
• The clubs have never met before in UEFA competition.
• Slavia won their two previous home games against Scottish sides 1-0 – both in the UEFA Cup first round, against Saint Mirren in 1985/86 and Hearts in 1992/93 – but on each occasion were knocked out after second-leg away defeats.
• Rangers have lost all three of their previous encounters away to Czech sides – all in first round first legs – and been eliminated on each occasion, the two most recent on away goals after extra time, by Sparta Praha in the 1991/92 European Cup and Viktoria Žižkov in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.
• Champions of the Czech Republic for the third time in four years last season, Slavia missed out on a second successive UEFA Champions League group stage adventure this term when, led again by coach Jindřich Trpišovský, they were defeated by Midtjylland in the play-offs (0-0 h, 1-4 a).
• Fourth in their UEFA Champions League section last season, behind Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Internazionale, Slavia finished second in their UEFA Europa League group this term, a run of four successive wins from Matchday 2 to Matchday 5 enabling them to finish runners-up to Leverkusen – who closed the section by beating them 4-0 in Germany – ahead of Hapoel Beer-Sheva and Nice.
• Goals against Leicester from Lukáš Provod and Abdallah Sima gave Slavia their first ever win in England last time out, taking the club into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second time. Their first tie at this stage, in 2018/19, was one for the ages as they pulled off a momentous 6-5 aggregate win against competition specialists Sevilla (2-2 a, 4-3 h aet).
• Slavia took maximum points from their home games in Group C – against Leverkusen (1-0), Nice (3-2) and Hapoel (3-0) – before their goalless draw with Leicester but have nevertheless won only four of their last ten European home fixtures, losing the same number, including all three in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Rangers were in second place 13 points behind Celtic when the 2019/20 Scottish Premiership came to a premature end. They also enjoyed a lengthy run in Europe, progressing from the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League all the way to the round of 16, where, as Scotland's last team standing, they were eliminated by Leverkusen (1-3 h, 0-1 a).
• Steven Gerrard's side came through three qualifiers to reach this season's group stage, beating Lincoln Red Imps (5-0) and Willem II (4-0) on the road before a 2-1 play-off success against Galatasaray at Ibrox. They made it five wins out of five by beating Standard and Lech (1-0 h) in the first two games of Group D before holding Benfica 3-3 in Lisbon and 2-2 in Glasgow and then posting second wins against their Belgian and Polish opponents to seal top spot.
• The record-breaking win against Antwerp has put the Gers into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time. They have yet to make further progress, having lost out to PSV Eindhoven in 2010/11 (0-0 a, 0-1 h) and Leverkusen last season.
• Rangers' away record in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, now stands at W4 D6 L4. There have been no away defeats in Europe this season (W5 D1), with clean sheets kept in four of those six matches.
Links and trivia
• Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos's next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 50th.
• Slavia's Nicolae Stanciu and Rangers' Ianis Hagi are fellow Romanian internationals.
• Rangers duo Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun are Nigeria team-mates of Slavia's Peter Olayinka.
• Rangers defender Filip Helander has happy memories of the Eden Arena, where he helped Sweden win the final of the 2015 UEFA Under-21 Championship against Portugal – though he was substituted at half-time in a game that was eventually decided on penalties after a goalless draw.
• Ryan Jack was in the Scotland side that defeated a Czech Republic team featuring six Slavia players – Provod, Jan Bořil, Ondřej Kúdela, Lukáš Masopust and substitutes David Hovorka and Petr Ševčík – 1-0 at Hampden Park in the UEFA Nations League on 14 October 2020.
• A stand at the Eden Arena is named after Johnny Madden, a Scotsman and former Celtic player, who managed Slavia from 1905 to 1930, winning three league titles.
• Rangers are one of five clubs appearing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second successive season, along with Manchester United, Olympiacos, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk.
• Rangers wrapped up their record-extending 55th Scottish league title – and first for a decade – on Sunday as they stretched their lead over Celtic to an unassailable 20 points with six games to go. They are unbeaten in the Premiership this season, winning 28 and drawing four of their 32 games.
• Slavia are also undefeated in their domestic league, having recorded 18 wins and four draws in their 22 fixtures. They maintained that run – and a sizeable lead at the top of the table – by beating Baník Ostrava 2-1 at home on Sunday.