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Kiryat Shmona out to stem tide against Sparta

AC Sparta Praha can qualify for the round of 32 with two games to spare if they can take advantage of a Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC defence which is the equal worst in the group stage.

Sparta's Marek Matějovský (left) vies for possession with Adrian Rochet of Kiryat Shmona
Sparta's Marek Matějovský (left) vies for possession with Adrian Rochet of Kiryat Shmona ©AFP/Getty Images

AC Sparta Praha will be looking to take advantage of a leaky Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC defence when they travel to Israel on matchday four.

• Goals from Ladislav Krejčí, Václav Kadlec and Ondřej Švejdík gave Sparta a 3-0 lead inside 44 minutes against Kiryat Shmona last time out, Shimon Abuhazira scoring a second-half consolation for the visitors.

• Sparta will qualify for the round of 32 with two games to spare if they win and Athletic Club fail to beat Olympique Lyonnais.

Previous meetings
• The sides met for the first time on matchday three, which marked Sparta's first game against Israeli opponents and Kiryat Shmona's maiden encounter with a Czech club.

• Czech and Israeli clubs have met in eight UEFA ties, with Sparta's matchday three success nudging the balance in the Czech clubs' favour. Czech teams have now won three games to the Israeli clubs' two, with the other three fixtures producing 1-1 draws.

• The Czech Republic won both of their senior international meetings with Israel (both friendlies) – 4-1 in Prague in 2000 and 2-1 in Graz in the run-up to UEFA EURO 2012.

Match background
• Kiryat Shmona's 4-3 loss to Olympique Lyonnais on matchday two was only their second home setback in European competition (six games), matching the margin of defeat in their previous one – 2-1 against PFC Litex Lovech in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup second qualifying round.

• The 3-1 loss at Sparta was Kiryat Shmona's first away defeat in their four UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League games and matched the margin of their heaviest previous defeat in Europe – a 2-0 loss at FC BATE Borisov in this season's UEFA Champions League play-offs.

Team facts
• Sparta are five shy of 100 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League goals. This will be their 68th fixture in the competition.

• Kiryat Shmona's Abuhazira is one of the top scorers in the group stage, level on three goals with SSC Napoli's Eduardo Vargas, Liverpool FC's Jonjo Shelvey, KRC Genk's Benjamin De Ceulaer and BSC Young Boys' Raúl Bobadilla.

• AIK, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona, BSC Young Boys and SK Rapid Wien have conceded eight goals in this season's group stage – more than any other teams in the competition.

• Vitězslav Lavička represented Sparta in three spells as a midfielder in the 1980s and 1990s, and is now in his second term as the club's coach, following a spell in charge in 2008. Once coach of the Czech Under-21 side, he won the Australian title with Sydney FC in 2009/10 before returning to Prague in 2012.

• Kiryat Shmona changed coaches on the eve of matchday two, with Gili Landau standing aside after just over three months in charge, to be replaced by his assistant Barak Bakhar. The former defender, who only turned 33 in September, played for the club from 2004 to 2011, and this is his first senior coaching appointment.

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