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Chelsea look to finish Sparta job

Chelsea FC welcome AC Sparta Praha back to London with the European champions looking to complete a clean sweep of UEFA's major club competitions this season.

Sparta's Mario Holek rubs shoulders with Chelsea's Fernando Torres
Sparta's Mario Holek rubs shoulders with Chelsea's Fernando Torres ©Getty Images

Chelsea FC lead AC Sparta Praha 1-0 going into the decisive leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie as the European champions bid to complete their set of major European club titles.

• Despite a promising start, Chelsea struggled to break down a compact Sparta back line in Prague and were matched for long periods until Brazilian playmaker Oscar scored his sixth goal in Europe this season 33 seconds after coming on as a substitute (82).

Previous meetings
• Sparta and Chelsea have met before, having been pooled together in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League group stage. Claudio Ranieri's Blues beat a Sparta side coached by Jiří Kotrba 1-0 in Prague on matchday one, with the matchday five return fixture at Stamford Bridge ending 0-0. Chelsea finished top of Group G, with Sparta ending up second.

• The teams for their first meeting in Prague on 16 September 2003 were:
Sparta: Blažek, Labant (Ježek 87), Poborský, Michalík (Zbončák 56), Kováč, Hübschman, Johana, Petráš (Sionko 46), Němec, Jun, Gluščević.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Johnson, Makelele, Desailly, Mutu (Duff 46), Gallas, Geremi, Petit (Lampard* 46), Bridge, Verón, Crespo (Hasselbaink 72).

• The teams for the return fixture on 26 November 2003 were:
Chelsea: Cudicini, Makelele, Mutu, Lampard*, Cole (Geremi 73), Duff, Gallas, Melchiot, Bridge, Crespo (Gudjohnsen 73), Terry*.
Sparta: Blažek, Labant, Pergl, Zelenka (Flachbart 87), Poborský, Michalík (Gluščević 73), Krmaš, Sionko (Ježek 90+3), Kováč, Hübschman, Homola.

* still registered to play for the club

Match background
• Chelsea are unbeaten in nine European home games at Stamford Bridge (W8 D1) since a 1-0 loss to Manchester United FC in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Their record in four UEFA Cup home games reads W3 D1 L0.

• Sparta have not won in six games in England (D1 L5) since a 3-2 win at Watford FC in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup third round. They have also not won in their last four European away games, though three of those matches ended in draws.

• Group I runners-up Sparta last reached the round of 32 in 2010/11, losing 1-0 on aggregate to Liverpool FC. Their best season in this competition saw them reach the quarter-finals in 1983/84, bowing out to HNK Hajduk Split.

• Chelsea have played fewer games in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League than any of the other sides in the round of 32, barring European debutants Levante UD – both sides have played nine games each.

• Chelsea have won only one of their previous four two-legged ties in this competition, beating PFC Levski Sofia in the 2001/02 first round. They last played in the UEFA Cup the following season, when they were beaten by Viking FK in the first round. Frank Lampard and John Terry both featured (and scored) in their last UEFA Cup game – a 4-2 defeat in Stavanger.

Team facts
• Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech played for Sparta in 2001/02. During the season when Chelsea and Sparta last met, Čech was at Stade Rennais FC. He would join Chelsea in the summer of 2004. He is not related to Sparta goalkeeper Marek Čech.

• Sparta midfielder Jiří Jarošík played for Chelsea for the second half of the 2004/05 season, winning the League Cup and the title with the club. He was loaned to Birmingham City FC for the following campaign and moved on to Celtic FC that summer.

• Chelsea are within two goals of scoring their 300th in UEFA club competition, while the next one they concede will be the 150th they have let in. This is their 175th UEFA game.

• Sparta are within three goals of scoring their 100th in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League – this is their 72nd game in the two competitions.

• Chelsea started the week as the highest scoring side in UEFA club competitions this season, with 17 goals since the start of the group stages – one more than FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Paris Saint-Germain FC and Real Madrid CF.

• Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanović turns 29 on the day after the game.

• Chelsea could become the first side to win UEFA's two top club competitions in reverse order in successive seasons.

• They could also become only the fourth side to have won all three of UEFA's major club competitions (after Juventus, AFC Ajax and FC Bayern München), having won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup twice (in 1970/71 and 1997/98) and the UEFA Champions League last season.

• Rafael Benítez moved into coaching young after injury ended his career as a midfielder, taking charge of youth and reserve teams at Real Madrid CF. He led Valencia CF to two league titles and the 2003/04 UEFA Cup, and then won the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC. He coached FC Internazionale Milano briefly in 2010/11, replacing Roberto Di Matteo as Chelsea boss in November 2012.

• Benítez's most recent UEFA Europa League experience came in 2009/10, when he led Liverpool to the semi-finals, where they lost out to eventual winners Club Atlético de Madrid.

• 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.

Round of 16: AFC Ajax/FC Steaua Bucureşti v Sparta/Chelsea
• The first legs will be played on 7 March, with the returns the following Thursday.

• Sparta have met both of their potential opponents before.

• Steaua came out on top when the teams met in the first round of the 1988/89 European Champion Clubs' Cup, winning 5-1 in Prague before playing out a 2-2 draw in Bucharest.

• Sparta and Ajax have met three times before. In the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League group stage, they drew 1-1 in Prague with Ajax prevailing 2-1 in Amsterdam, while a 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage meeting ended goalless.

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