Sporting CP have won only one of their last seven European home games, although Viktoria Plzeň's away form should inspire confidence; the Czech club have one victory in 14 matches.
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Two clubs whose 2017/18 European campaigns kicked off in UEFA Champions League qualifying meet in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 as Sporting CP welcome Czech league leaders Viktoria Plzeň to Lisbon.
• One of five UEFA Champions League group stage participants to have reached the last 16 of this competition, Sporting beat Astana 6-4 on aggregate in the round of 32, winning 3-1 away before the Kazakh champions held them 3-3 at home.
• Plzeň, who finished top of Group G in the autumn thanks to wins in each of their last three matches, saw off Serbian champions Partizan 3-1 on aggregate in the last 32, a 1-1 draw in Belgrade preceding a 2-0 home victory.
• The clubs' paths have never crossed in European competition.
• It is almost 40 years since Sporting last faced Czech opposition, their one and only tie bringing 1-0 defeats in both legs of the 1978/79 European Cup Winners' Cup first round against Baník Ostrava.
• Plzeň, led by current boss Pavel Vrba, recorded a home win (3-1) and an away draw (1-1) against Académica Coimbra in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League group stage – their only previous matches against Portuguese opponents. Current Plzeň players Matúš Kozáčik, Martin Zeman, David Limberský, Marek Bakoš and Radim Řezník were all involved.
• Sporting hold the record for the longest sequence of home games without defeat in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. They were unbeaten in their first 20 home matches in the competition before losing 3-1 against Lokomotiv Moskva in Lisbon on matchday one of the 2015/16 group stage. Their overall UEFA Europa League record in the Portuguese capital, including qualifying, is W18 D8 L3.
• Sporting have won only one of their last seven home games in UEFA competition (D3 L3), though they have scored three goals in each of their two most recent European outings in Lisbon.
• The Lions, who finished runners-up in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup, losing the final in their own stadium to CSKA Moskva (1-3), are playing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time. They lost on away goals to eventual winners Atlético Madrid in the competition's inaugural 2009/10 season (0-0 away, 2-2 home) before overcoming Manchester City by the same method in 2011/12 (1-0 home, 2-3 away).
• Sporting finished third in last season's Portuguese Liga and reached the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 5-1 win away to Romanian side FCSB in the play-offs, which clinched an aggregate success by the same margin. They finished third in their section behind Barcelona and Juventus.
• Plzeň's 2-0 victory at Hapoel Beer-Sheva on matchday six of the group stage is their only win in their last 14 European away fixtures (D6 L7).
• This is Plzeň's third participation in the round of 16, their previous two ties at this juncture having ended in defeat – by Fenerbahçe in 2012/13 (0-1 home, 1-1 away) and Lyon in 2013/14 (1-4 away, 2-1 home). Their last two UEFA Europa League campaigns, in 2015/16 and 2016/17, ended at the group stage.
• Runners-up in last term's Czech First League, Viktoria Plzeň lost to FCSB in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League but, having beaten AEK Larnaca in the UEFA Europa League play-offs, finished above the same Romanian opponents in their group, having trailed them by six points halfway through.
Links and trivia
• Former Czech international Pavel Horváth played for Sporting and Plzeň and won national championships with both clubs. He represented Sporting between 2000 and 2002 and had a seven-season spell at Plzeň between 2008 and 2015, during which he scored 46 goals in 205 matches, winning three league titles and one Czech Cup.
• Horváth was on target for Plzeň in both games against Académica in 2012, becoming at the time the UEFA Europa League's oldest goalscorer at the age of 37 years and 214 days. He has since been overtaken by three players of even more senior status – Daniel Hestad, Walter Samuel and Miroslav Klose.
• Sporting's Rui Patrício and Fábio Coentrão were both in the starting XI as Portugal won 1-0 against a Czech Republic side featuring Plzeň's David Limbersky in the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final; Roman Hubník and Daniel Kolář were unused substitutes.
• Sporting have now participated in seven of the nine UEFA Europa League campaigns. Only Ajax (eight appearances) have been involved in more.
• This is the 49th time that Sporting boss Jorge Jesus has led a team in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. Only one other coach has overseen more games in the competition – three-time trophy winner Unai Emery (59).
• Sporting were the top-scoring team in the round of 32, scoring six goals – three in each leg – against Astana. Half were scored by midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who was therefore the round's joint-top scorer alongside Lokomotiv Moskva's Manuel Fernandes and Lazio's Ciro Immobile, who both struck hat-tricks.
• Plzeň are bidding to become only the second Czech team to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, after Sparta Praha in 2015/16.
• Řezník and Patrik Hrošovský have both featured in every minute of Plzeň's 12-match European campaign this term.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Marcos Acuña, Fábio Coentrão, Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes, William Carvalho, Sebastián Coates (Sporting); Marek Bakoš, David Limberský, Patrik Hrošovský (Plzeň).
• Jorge Jesus was lured to Sporting from Lisbon rivals Benfica in 2015 after six seasons as head coach with the Eagles that brought ten domestic trophies, including three Liga titles, plus two runners-up berths in the UEFA Europa League – in 2012/13 to Chelsea and 2013/14 to Sevilla. His relatively discreet playing career started with Sporting in the early 1970s.
• After stints as Czech Republic and Anji coach, heading the former at the UEFA EURO 2016 finals in France, Pavel Vrba rejoined Plzeň last year, having steered the club to two domestic championship titles between 2008 and 2013. Once a Baník Ostrava player and coach, he won the 2006/07 Slovak title as Žilina boss. He was voted Czech coach of the year five times running between 2010 and 2014.