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Napoli and Sparta chase winning start

SSC Napoli will have the chance to earn a first home success against Czech opposition when AC Sparta Praha arrive in Naples on the back of a nine-game winless run in Europe.

Napoli's Marek Hamšík is an international team-mate of Sparta's Michal Breznaník
Napoli's Marek Hamšík is an international team-mate of Sparta's Michal Breznaník ©AFP/Getty Images

SSC Napoli will hope to put an end to an unimpressive run of form at home against Czech opponents as they welcome AC Sparta Praha in UEFA Europa League Group I.

Form guide
Napoli have lost both of their previous home games against Czech opponents without scoring; Sparta are yet to win in ten games in Italy (D3 L7).

Napoli are unbeaten in six European home matches (W4 D2) since they last welcomed Czech opponents, FC Viktoria Plzeň earning a shock 3-0 San Paolo win in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32.

Sparta have not won in nine European away fixtures (D6 L3) since a 2-0 success at FC Admira Wacker Mödling in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.

Trivia and links
Sparta midfielder Kamil Vacek played in Italy for AC Chievo Verona from 2011 to 2013.

Sparta forward David Lafata celebrates his 33rd birthday on the day of the Napoli game. He has already made headlines for Sparta this season, scoring five goals in a 7-0 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round win against FC Levadia Tallinn and three more against Malmö FF in the third qualifying round.

Sparta's Michal Breznaník and Napoli's Marek Hamšík are team-mates with Slovakia.

The coaches
Napoli coach since May 2013, Rafael Benítez won two Spanish titles and the 2003/04 UEFA Cup with Valencia CF, the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC and the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League with Chelsea FC. The Spaniard lifted the Coppa Italia in his first Napoli campaign.

• As a midfielder, Vítězslav Lavička represented Sparta in three spells, and in 2012 embarked on his third stint as the club's coach, previous postings having seen him lead the Czech Under-21 team and Australian side Sydney FC.

• Benítez's Chelsea met Lavička's Sparta in the UEFA Europa League two years ago; the Blues won 1-0 in Prague but were 1-0 down in added time during the round of 32 decider before Eden Hazard's effort won them the tie.