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APOEL v Sparta Praha background

The best APOEL can hope for is a third-placed finish in UEFA Europa League Group K as they welcome a Sparta Praha side still hoping to end up top of the table.

Jakub Brabec after scoring against APOEL on matchday two
Jakub Brabec after scoring against APOEL on matchday two ©AFP/Getty Images

APOEL FC can finish no higher than third in UEFA Europa League Group K, but AC Sparta Praha are through and could pip FC Schalke 04 to top spot with a win – provided the German side lose or draw at Asteras Tripolis FC.

• Sparta will finish ahead of Schalke on head-to-head record if the teams are level on 12 points.

Previous meetings
Sparta won 2-0 when the clubs met for a third time in Europe on matchday two.

• In the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round František Straka's Sparta beat Ivan Jovanović's APOEL 4-3 on aggregate, drawing 2-2 in Nicosia after a 2-1 victory in Prague.

• Sparta established records in their only previous games against Cypriot opposition: in the 1963/64 European Cup Winners' Cups, they thrashed Anorthosis Famagusta FC 10-0 at home and 6-0 away – still their most substantial home and away wins in UEFA competition.

• In APOEL's only other matches against Czech sides, they overcame FK Jablonec home and away in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.

Form guide
• Sparta have now made it through to the knockout phase in three of their seven UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.

• APOEL have a 100% UEFA Europa League group stage failure rate, having also missed out on their one preceding appearance, in 2013/14.

Trivia and links
• The journey from Prague to Nicosia is around 2,250km.

• Sparta committed 101 fouls in the first five matchdays – 12 more than any other team in this season's group phase.

• APOEL's Portuguese defender Mário Sérgio can make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance in the Sparta game.

• Sparta's Radoslav Kováč and APOEL's Fernando Cavenaghi played together at FC Spartak Moskva (2005–07).

• APOEL's Valmir Nafiu was a team-mate of Sparta's Kováč and Markus Steinhöfer during his one season at FC Basel 1893, from 2011–12.

• Sparta's Portuguese forward Marco Paixão played in Cyprus with Ethnikos Achnas FC (2012/13).

• APOEL are one of ten domestic champions in this season's group stage, along with KF Skenderbëu (Albania), Qarabağ FK (Azerbaijan), FC Viktoria Plzeň (Czech Republic), FC Midtjylland (Denmark), KKS Lech Poznań (Poland), FK Partizan (Serbia), Celtic FC (Scotland), Molde FK (Norway) and FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland).

The coaches
• Hired as APOEL coach last summer, the 47-year-old Temuri Ketsbaia travelled widely as a midfielder and scored 17 goals in 49 international appearances for Georgia. Having coached Anorthosis Famagusta and Olympiacos FC, he was in charge of Georgia from 2009–14.

• Experienced trainer Zdeněk Ščasný, 58, took over at Sparta in April. Once a defender cum midfielder, he won Czechoslovak titles with FK Dukla Praha and Sparta. As a coach, he steered Sparta to two championships in the 1990s and has also managed abroad in Greece and Hungary.