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Villarreal v Sparta Praha background

Villarreal have a brilliant home record in this season's UEFA Europa League as they welcome a Sparta side who have secured two stunning away results in the knockout phase.

This season’s highlights: Villarreal v Sparta Praha

Villarreal CF have yet to concede at home in this season's UEFA Europa League as they come up against an AC Sparta Praha side who have sparkled on the road in this season's knockout phase.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.

• Villarreal are unbeaten in five encounters with Czech teams W3 D2 L0 (W2 D0 L0 at home – W1 D2 L0 in the Czech Republic). They kept clean sheets in both of those previous home games. Villarreal met Sparta's domestic title rivals FC Viktoria Plzeň in this season's group stage, drawing 3-3 away and winning 1-0 at home.

• Sparta's 17 UEFA fixtures against Spanish sides have ended W5 D2 L10 (W4 D0 L5 at home – W1 D2 L5 in Spain). They have not scored in their last four matches in Spain (D1 L3).

Form guide
• Villarreal are unbeaten in nine UEFA Europa League games (W6 D3), and have won all five of their European home fixtures this season without conceding a single goal.

Highlights: Lazio 0-3 Sparta

• Sparta are unbeaten in 12 UEFA Europa League outings (W7 D5), and after drawing their first four continental away matches this term are now on a three-game winning streak on the road (3-1, 3-0, 3-0).

• Sparta, Liverpool FC and (of the round of 32 entrants) FC Shakhtar Donetsk are the only teams yet to lose in this season's UEFA Europa League proper.

• Villarreal's best previous campaigns in the competition ended in the semi-finals, where they were twice eliminated by eventual winners – Valencia CF in 2003/04 and FC Porto in 2010/11.

• Sparta last reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in 1983/84 – their best showing in this tournament. Current coach Zdeněk Ščasný played in both legs, Sparta ultimately losing to HNK Hajduk Split after extra time.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Prague to Villarreal is around 1,600km.

• Villarreal's Samuel Castillejo remains the most fouled player in this season's competition, with 32 infringements against him from the group stage onwards.

• The match is taking place the day after Sparta goalkeeper (and No35) David Bičík's 35th birthday.

• Sparta's German right-back Markus Steinhöfer has experience of Spanish football, having represented Real Betis Balompié in 2013/14.

• Just four of the players involved in the quarter-finals have played in all 900 minutes of their clubs' campaigns: Villarreal's Víctor Ruiz, Athletic's Iago Herrerín, Sparta's Costa and Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Braga's Rafa Silva and Sparta's Bořek Dočkal have provided four assists this term – more than any other players left in the competition.

Bakambu double for Villarreal

• No Czech side has reached the quarter-finals of a major UEFA men's club tournament since FC Slovan Liberec crashed 4-0 on aggregate to Dortmund in the last eight of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup. The last Czech team to contest a UEFA semi-final was SK Slavia Praha, who succumbed to FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup. No Czech club has played in a major European final.

• Sparta have been penalised for 179 fouls from the group stage onwards – 38 more than any other side still in contention. They have also received the most yellow cards (26) after ten 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 feature in the 3-2 final reverse to Sevilla FC.

The coaches
• Marcelino's career as a midfielder was curtailed early by injury. As a coach, the 50-year-old worked his way up the Spanish leagues, culminating in spells with Real Zaragoza, Real Racing Club Santander and Sevilla. He took over at Villarreal in 2013, guiding them to promotion in his first campaign.

• Experienced trainer Zdeněk Ščasný, 58, took over at Sparta last April. Once a defender-cum-midfielder, he claimed 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.

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