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Sparta Praha v Napoli background

AC Sparta Praha will look to maintain their mighty home form in Europe this season as they welcome SSC Napoli, their main rivals for top spot in UEFA Europa League Group I.

Sparta's Marek Matějovský pursued by Napoli's José Callejón
Sparta's Marek Matějovský pursued by Napoli's José Callejón ©AFP/Getty Images

The top two sides in UEFA Europa League Group I come together on matchday five, with AC Sparta Praha looking to avenge their matchday one defeat at SSC Napoli.

Form guide
• A 3-1 victory against Sparta on matchday one was Napoli's first win in five encounters with Czech teams; their record in the Czech Republic is D1 L1.

Sparta's record in ten home games against Italian sides is W3 D5 L2. Those were mostly low-scoring affairs: only six goals were struck in Sparta's first nine home games against Serie A clubs, prior to a 3-2 win against US Città di Palermo in the most recent fixture in September 2010.

Sparta have won all five of their European matches this season, scoring 21 goals in the process; Napoli have won only one of their last six UEFA away fixtures.

Trivia and links
Sparta defender Radoslav Kováč turns 35 on the day of the Napoli game, while team-mate Marek Matějovský can make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance.

Sparta's David Lafata is one of four players on five goals in this season's group stage, along with Jonatan Soriano (FC Salzburg), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur FC) and Raul Rusescu (FC Steaua Bucureşti). Lafata also scored eight goals in UEFA Champions League qualifying, including five against FC Levadia Tallinn and three against Malmö FF.

Napoli and Villarreal CF could be the unluckiest sides in the group stage – both have hit the woodwork four times since matchday one.

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

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

The coaches• 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.

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.

• 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.

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