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Slovan Bratislava v Sparta Praha background

The first side to lose a coach since the start of this season's UEFA Europa League group stage, ŠK Slovan Bratislava are set to take on AC Sparta Praha in Group I.

Slovan's Igor Žofčák is a former Sparta player
Slovan's Igor Žofčák is a former Sparta player ©Getty Images

ŠK Slovan Bratislava take on AC Sparta Praha in UEFA Europa League Group I, with the sides having not met in a competitive game since the break-up of the former Czechoslovakia.

Form guide
• After 15 games between clubs representing the two halves of the former Czechoslovakia, there is nothing to separate the nations – Slovak and Czech clubs boast the same record: W6 D3 L6.

Slovan are without a win in five European games (D2 L3), a run during which they have scored only once. They have lost all three of their most recent continental fixtures, conceding ten goals in the process.

Sparta are without a victory in ten European away matches (D6 L4) since a 2-0 success at FC Admira Wacker Mödling in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.

Trivia and links
Slovan midfielder Igor Žofčák played for Sparta from 2007 to 2010, helping the club win the Czech title during his final season in Prague.

Sparta goalkeeper David Bičík (2008-10) and Slovakian defender Michal Breznaník (2007-10) are both former Slovan players.

Slovan's Tomáš Jablonský (2003-09) and Pavel Fořt (2003-07 and 2009) played for Sparta's arch-rivals SK Slavia Praha.

Slovan forward Juraj Halenár can make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance in the game against Sparta.

Slovan's only previous group stage campaign was in 2011/12, when they picked up just one point from six games. Slovan and HNK Rijeka could both match FC Steaua Bucureşti and PFC CSKA Sofia's record stretch of nine games without a first UEFA Europa League group stage victory if they fail to prevail on matchday two.

The coaches
• As a midfielder, Vítězslav Lavička represented Sparta in three spells, and in 2012 embarked on his third stint as the club's coach, previous postings having seen him lead the Czech Under-21 team and Australian side Sydney FC.

Slovan's František Straka became the first coaching casualty of the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League when he was dismissed on 6 October, the Slovakian champions having won only once in their previous ten games. Straka is thus unable to face the club he previously played for and coached, with Lavička (1983-84 and 1987-88) among his former Sparta team-mates.

Slovan's new coach is another man with a significant Sparta past, Jozef Chovanec. The former Czechoslovakia defender played over 300 games in three spells at Sparta, then going abroad to represent PSV Eindhoven. Chovanec has since coached Sparta in four spells, and led the Czech national team from 1998-2001.

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