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Sparta Praha v Lazio background

Sparta Praha and Lazio meet for the fifth time in UEFA competition in the round of 16, with both sides unbeaten in this season's UEFA Europa League.

Lukáš Juliš celebrates a goal for Sparta
Lukáš Juliš celebrates a goal for Sparta ©AFP/Getty Images

AC Sparta Praha and SS Lazio come into their round of 16 encounter still unbeaten in this season's UEFA Europa League, having last met in Europe in 2003.

Previous meetings
• Lazio have had the better of the sides' four European meetings (W2 D1 L1), all in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Sven-Göran Eriksson's Lazio got the better of Ivan Hašek's Sparta home and away in the 2000/01 competition, but in 2003/04 Jiří Kotrba's Sparta held Roberto Mancini's Lazio to a 2-2 draw in Rome and then beat them 1-0 in Prague.

• Those four games represent Lazio's only experience of Czech opponents.

• Sparta's record in 22 European encounters with Italian teams is W3 D9 L10 (W3 D6 L2 in Prague – W0 D3 L8 in Italy). They are unbeaten in their last four home matches with Serie A clubs (W2 D2).

Form guide
• Sparta are unbeaten in ten UEFA Europa League fixtures (W6 D4) since entering this season's competition in the play-offs, and are currently on a four-game winning streak in Europe, keeping clean sheets in three of those matches.

• Lazio too have not lost a UEFA Europa League fixture since the start of the group stage (W5 D3 – W1 D3 away), though they have kept just one clean sheet during that sequence.

• Sparta made it to the round of 32 in 2012/13, losing to Chelsea FC. They reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in 1983/84 – their best campaign in this competition.

• Lazio last contested the round of 16 in 2012/13, when they beat VfB Stuttgart en route to a last-eight loss to Fenerbahçe SK. In their most successful campaign in this competition, they went down 3-0 against FC Internazionale Milano in the 1998 UEFA Cup final.

Trivia and links
• The journey from Rome to Prague is around 900km.

• Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha turns 27 the day of the first leg against Sparta.

• Lazio defender Senad Lulić can make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance in the first leg.

• Sparta have been penalised for 152 fouls from the group stage onwards – 18 more than any other side in this season's competition. They have also received the most yellow cards (24) after eight matchdays.

• Sparta defender Ondřej Mazuch was part of the FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk squad that graced the UEFA Europa League final last term, though he did not play in the 3-2 final reverse to Sevilla FC.

• Lazio's Lucas Biglia played alongside Mazuch (2009–11) and Lukáš Mareček (2010–13) at RSC Anderlecht.

• Mazuch also has Serie A experience, the defender having been an ACF Fiorentina player from 2007–09, though he made just two league outings for the Viola.

• Notable players who represented both clubs include Pavel Nedvěd (Sparta 1992–96, Lazio 1996–2001) and Karel Poborský (Lazio 2000–01, Sparta 2002–05).

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

• A central defender with Juventus and Fiorentina among others, Stefano Pioli was appointed by Lazio in June 2014. The 50-year-old has coached in Italy's top two divisions since 2003, his clubs including home-town side Parma FC, AC Chievo Verona and most recently Bologna FC.