Sporting CP hold all the cards as they travel to the Czech Republic holding a 2-0 advantage, although Viktoria Plzeň's impressive home form gives them some room for optimism.
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Czech league leaders Viktoria Plzeň have it all to do in the round of 16 second leg as they host a Sporting CP side holding a 2-0 advantage from the first meeting in Lisbon.
• 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.
• 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.
• Colombian forward Fredy Montero, who returned for a second spell with Sporting in January, scored both goals in the first leg against Plzeň either side of the interval to decide the first European encounter between the two clubs in the home side's favour. His second goal was the 300th scored by a Portuguese club in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final.
• Plzeň, coached then as now by 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.
• It is almost 40 years since Sporting last travelled to Czech opposition, their one and only previous tie bringing 1-0 defeats in both legs of the 1978/79 European Cup Winners' Cup first round against Baník Ostrava.
• Plzeň have won all five home games in this season's UEFA Europa League to make it six in a row in this competition, scoring 17 goals over that stretch.
• 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.
• Sporting have lost six of their last nine European away fixtures – and 18 of their last 27 (W4 D5). They have won only two and lost ten of their last 16 games outside Lisbon in the UEFA Europa League, with the victory in Astana in the round of 32 ending a run of 11 away games without a win (D6 L5) in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League knockout phase.
• 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 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 Plzeň's conquerors 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 have lost the first, away, leg in three previous European ties and have been eliminated on two of those occasions. The most recent instance – and the only one of the three where the first-leg scoreline was 0-2 – resulted in aggregate defeat in last season's UEFA Champions League play-offs by Ludogorets Razgrad (2-2 home).
• Sporting have qualified 20 times from the 30 UEFA competition ties in which they have led after the first leg in Lisbon. The balance when the first game has finished 2-0 is five aggregate victories from nine; they have progressed on each of the last three occasions, most recently against Basel in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup round of 32 (3-0 home).
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 50th time that Sporting boss Jorge Jesus has led a team in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. Only one other coach has reached that competition milestone – three-time trophy winner Unai Emery (59 games).
• 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.
• Plzeň striker Michael Krmenčík celebrates his 25th birthday on the day of the game.
• Řezník and Patrik Hrošovský have both featured in every minute of Plzeň's 13-match European campaign this term.
• Rui Patrício has been on the field for every minute of Sporting's 11 European encounters in 2017/18.
• Plzeň’s David Limberský and Sporting pair William Carvalho and Sebastián Coates are all suspended for this match after picking up yellow cards in the first leg.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Marek Bakoš, Patrik Hrošovský (Plzeň); Marcos Acuña, Fábio Coentrão, Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes, Rodrigo Battaglia (Sporting).
• Viktoria Plzeň have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.
• Sporting have lost both of their UEFA penalty shoot-outs:
3-5 v Dinamo Minsk, 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round
3-4 v Napoli, 1989/90 UEFA Cup first round
• 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.
• 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.