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Southampton v Sparta Praha background

Southampton take on Sparta Praha for the first time in their history in UEFA Europa League Group K, with Tomáš Rosický potentially making a quick return to England.

Charlie Austin in Premier League action for Southampton
Charlie Austin in Premier League action for Southampton ©Getty Images

Southampton embark upon their first UEFA group stage campaign with a home game against Sparta, who have not beaten English opponents since 1983.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in what is the Saints' maiden encounter with Czech opposition.

• Sparta's record in 18 UEFA matches against English rivals is W3 D4 L11 (away – W1 D2 L6). They are without a win in their last 14 fixtures involving Premier League teams (D4 L10).

Form guide
• Southampton are making their debut in a UEFA competition group stage.

• The Saints are unbeaten in five European home games (W1 D4) – a run stretching back to a 4-2 reverse to Sporting CP in a 1981 UEFA Cup tie.

• Sparta have not won in their last three European away matches (D1 L2).

• Sparta have made it to the knockout phase in three of their seven UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, including three of their last four attempts.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Prague to Southampton is around 1,100km.

• Sparta's Tomáš Rosický is returning to England less than a month after ending a ten-year spell in the Premier League with Arsenal.

The coaches
• Frenchman Claude Puel took charge of Southampton this summer. A one-club man, he spent his entire playing career with Monaco, claiming two league titles as a player and one more as a coach. He has since led LOSC, Lyon and – for the past four seasons – Nice.

• Zdeněk Ščasný took Sparta all the way to last season's UEFA Europa League quarter-finals. A defender-cum-midfielder, he lifted Czechoslovakian titles with Dukla Praha and Sparta. As a coach, he steered Sparta to two championships in the 1990s.