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Asteras v Sparta Praha background

Asteras Tripolis will look to make a positive start in Group K as one-time OFI Crete and Panathinaikos boss Zdeněk Ščasný returns to Greece with Sparta Praha.

Asteras coach Staikos Vergetis
Asteras coach Staikos Vergetis ©AFP/Getty Images

Asteras Tripolis FC embark upon their second UEFA Europa League group stage campaign, with their Group K visitors – AC Sparta Praha – led by a man who knows a thing or two about Greek football.

Previous meetings
• The sides have never met and this is Asteras's first meeting with Czech opponents.

• Sparta's six meetings with Greek opponents – all with Panathinaikos FC – have ended W1 D0 L5 (W1 D0 L2 – W0 D0 L3 in Greece). They have not scored in their last two games in Greece.

Form guide
• Asteras are without a win in their last four European games (D2 L2).

• A total of 19 goals have been scored in Sparta's four European games this season: ten by Sparta and nine by their opponents.

• Asteras failed to make it through to the round of 32 in their maiden group stage appearance last season.

• Sparta have made it through to the knockout phase in two of their six UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, most recently missing the cut last season.

Trivia and links
• The journey from Prague to Tripolis is just over 1,500km.

• Sparta striker David Lafata turns 34 the day after the Asteras game; fellow forward Marco Paixão is 31 the following day. Lafata played in Greece earlier in his career for Xanthi FC (2005-06).

• Asteras midfielder Elini Dimoutsos has played in the Czech Republic with FK Mladá Boleslav (2011).

The coaches
• Experienced coach Zdeněk Ščasný took charge at Sparta in April. A defender and midfielder, he won Czechoslovakian titles with FK Dukla Praha and Sparta. As a coach, he led Sparta to two titles in the 1990s, and has also coached abroad in Greece and Hungary.

• Ščasný has a good knowledge of Greek football from his time with OFI Crete (2002-03) and Panathinaikos FC (2004-05).

• A serious knee injury having ended his playing career young, Staikos Vergetis dedicated himself to coaching, coming to Asteras as a youth specialist in 2006. He worked in various capacities under 11 different coaches before he was given the senior job in October 2013.

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