AC Sparta Praha and PSV Eindhoven may be meeting for the first time in their opening UEFA Europa League Group K game, but home coach Jozef Chovanec should already know what to expect from the Dutch side.
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AC Sparta Praha and PSV Eindhoven will meet for the first time in their opening UEFA Europa League Group K game, but home coach Jozef Chovanec will need no introduction to the opposition having spent three years with PSV during his playing days.
• Sparta have not lost at home against a Dutch side in four UEFA club competition games, beating Willem II and Feyenoord 4-0 before earning two draws against AFC Ajax in more recent years. PSV, meanwhile, lost 2-1 at FC Zlín in the 1970/71 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round in their only previous game in the Czech Republic.
• Sparta competed in two UEFA Cup group stage campaigns, missing out on qualification in both 2006/07 and 2007/08. Having appeared in the five most recent UEFA Champions League group stage campaigns, PSV never played in the equivalent phase of the UEFA Cup.
• Sparta never won a UEFA Cup group stage home game, their four attempts producing two defeats and two goalless draws, one of them against PSV's Dutch rivals Ajax.
• PSV have won all four of their European games this season by the same 1-0 margin, with all but one of their goals coming between the 23 and 30-minute mark.
• Chovanec has plenty of fond memories of PSV, having represented the club as a midfielder from 1988-91, winning two Dutch titles, the first under Guus Hiddink and the second under the late Sir Bobby Robson.
• Chovanec represented Sparta for most of his playing career, and was appointed coach for the fourth time in 2009, having also been serving as the club's chairman. He has also coached the Czech national team, leading them to UEFA EURO 2000™ without dropping a point in qualifying.
• PSV boss Fred Rutten and midfielder Orlando Engelaar were involved in last season's UEFA Cup group stage during their time at FC Schalke 04, though their side failed to reach the round of 32.
• Back in the Netherlands after a one-season absence, Rutten spent his entire playing career and much of his time as a coach at FC Twente. He previously worked at PSV with the youth team and as assistant to Hiddink in his second spell at the club, from 2002-06.
• Rutten and Chovanec played against each other on two occasions when the latter was at PSV: a 1-1 draw in Eindhoven in March 1990, followed by a 3-1 win for Chovanec and his team-mates at the same venue in May 1991.
• Sparta have worn red (or maroon) shirts ever since 1906, when one of the club committee members returned from a trip to London with a set of Arsenal FC tops.
• Sparta visit FC København on Matchday 2, while PSV are at home against CFR 1907 Cluj on the same night, 1 October.