UEFA Europa League - 2021/22 SeasonMatch press kits
|AC Sparta Praha||Stadion Letná - PragueThursday 21 October 2021|
21.00CET (21.00 local time) Group A - Matchday 3
Sparta Praha and Olympique Lyonnais meet in the Czech capital with both sides yet to concede a goal in UEFA Europa League Group A.
• Lyon top the section with maximum points, a 3-0 home win against Brøndby, in which Karl Toko Ekambi scored twice and Houssem Aouar once, supplementing their opening 2-0 victory at Rangers. Two points behind them are Sparta, who followed up a goalless draw in Denmark by beating the Scottish champions 1-0 in Prague with a header from Slovakian defender Dávid Hancko.
• Sparta and Lyon have been paired together twice previously in group stages, the French side winning three of the matches with the other, the most recent, a 1-1 draw in Prague.
• The first meetings were in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League, Lyon winning 2-1 away and 5-0 at home en route to a place in the quarter-finals as their opponents finished bottom of the group with just one point.
• They then met eight years later in the UEFA Europa League, Lyon beating Sparta 2-1 at home on Matchday 1 before dropping their only points of the section in the return fixture, the draw helping the Czech side to qualify as runners-up. Both clubs were defeated in the round of 32 by English opponents, Lyon going out to Tottenham and Sparta to eventual winners Chelsea.
• Sparta have recorded only one victory in their six home games against French visitors – the first, 2-1 against Marseille, to win their 1991/92 European Cup second round tie on away goals and reach the competition's inaugural group stage. The two most recent matches, both in the last 12 months, ended in defeat – 1-4 against LOSC Lille in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage and 0-2 against Monaco in the first leg of this season's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. Sparta also lost the two games in France.
• Lyon's record in the Czech Republic is W2 D1 L2, their last visit bringing a 4-1 win against Mladá Boleslav in the first leg of the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round – a tie the French side won 6-2 on aggregate.
• Sparta finished distant runners-up to city rivals Slavia Praha in the 2020/21 Czech Liga, 12 points in arrears, but their European prize was the same – a place in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. Unlike Slavia, Pavel Vrba's team won that tie, beating Rapid Wien 3-2 on aggregate (1-2 a, 2-0 h), before falling in the next round to Monaco (0-2 h, 1-3 a) and therefore qualifying for an eighth appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage – a Czech record.
• This is the club's 39th successive European campaign and their second in a row in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They failed to make further progress last time, winning twice against Celtic but losing all four games against LOSC and AC Milan. Nevertheless, they have prolonged their involvement in four of their previous seven participations, reaching the quarter-finals in 2015/16.
• Sparta have lost only three of their 22 UEFA Europa League home group games (W13 D6) but had their 15-match unbeaten run ended on Matchday 1 last term when they suffered that 4-1 defeat by LOSC.
• Lyon finished the 2020/21 Ligue 1 campaign in fourth place, seven points behind champions LOSC, to return to European competition after a rare season's absence as direct qualifiers for the UEFA Europa League group stage. In their most recent continental campaign they reached the semi-finals of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League.
• Les Gones have won more matches in the UEFA Europa League than any other French club (23), scoring more goals (75), and were semi-finalists in 2016/17 as well as reaching the last eight in 2013/14. This is their fourth appearance in the group stage, from which they have progressed to the round of 32 on each occasion, twice as group winners, in 2012/13 and 2013/14. On their last appearance, in 2017/18, they were runners-up in Group E to Atalanta with 11 points, eventually going out on away goals in the round of 16 to CSKA Moskva (1-0 a, 2-3 h).
• Lyon have lost only one of their ten away matches in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W5 D4) – 0-1 against Atalanta on Matchday 6 in 2017/18. The opening Group A win at Rangers ended a run of three successive European away defeats – all in the UEFA Champions League.
Links and trivia
• Lyon defender Jason Denayer was in the starting XI for Belgium's two 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against the Czech Republic earlier this year – a 1-1 draw in Prague on 27 March, in which Sparta's Ondřej Čelůstka and substitute David Pavelka were on the opposing side, and a 3-0 win in Brussels on 5 September, in which Sparta trio Jakub Pešek, Adam Hložek and substitute Tomáš Wiesner all featured.
• Sparta coach Vrba was in charge of the Czech Republic side that competed at UEFA EURO 2016 in France.
• Toko Ekambi is the UEFA Europa League's joint top scorer after two matchdays with three goals – level with Galeno of Braga and Victor Osimhen of Napoli.