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Sparta Praha v Asteras background

Sparta Praha know the right combination of Group K results will take them to the round of 32 as they welcome Asteras, who have never won a European away game.

Sparta striker David Lafata after scoring against Asteras on 17 September
Sparta striker David Lafata after scoring against Asteras on 17 September ©AFP/Getty Images

AC Sparta Praha will look to take a big step towards the UEFA Europa  League round of 32 as they welcome Asteras Tripolis FC, who have yet to win a European away game.

• Sparta will qualify with a victory, provided APOEL FC fail to beat FC Schalke 04 in the section's other fixture. If Schalke win, they are through.

Previous meetings
David Lafata's goal earned Sparta a 1-1 draw in Greece when the sides met for the first time on matchday one. It was Asteras's maiden encounter with Czech opponents.

• Sparta's seven meetings with Greek opponents – all with Panathinaikos FC prior to matchday one – have ended W1 D1 L5 (W1 D0 L2 at home).

Form guide
• Sparta are unbeaten in six European games (W2 D4) since succumbing to PFC CSKA Moskva in the third qualifying round of this season's UEFA Champions League.

• Sparta are undefeated in 11 UEFA Europa League group stage home fixtures (W6 D5) since a 3-0 reverse against FC København in December 2009.

• Asteras have yet to win in 11 UEFA away games (D5 L6).

• 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.

• Asteras failed to advance to the round of 32 in their maiden group stage appearance last term.

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

• Sparta striker 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).

• Sparta defender Radoslav Kováč turns 36 the day after the Asteras game.

The coaches
• Experienced coach Zdeněk Ščasný took charge at Sparta in the summer. A defender and midfielder, he won Czechoslovakian titles with SK Slavia Praha and Sparta. As a coach, he led Sparta to two championships in the 1990s and has also worked 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, Staikos Vergetis dedicated himself to coaching, coming to Asteras as a youth specialist in 2006. He worked in various capacities under 11 coaches before he was given the senior job in October 2013.

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