Sparta Prague: 5 things to know about Liverpool's Europa League last 16 opponents

  • Liverpool will face Sparta Prague in the Europa League last 16
  • The two sides met in the knockout stages of this competition in 2011
  • Czech outfit beat Galatasaray in the last round to earn this tie

Liverpool take on Sparta Prague
Liverpool take on Sparta Prague / MICHAL CIZEK/GettyImages

Liverpool will take on Sparta Prague in the last 16 of the 2023/24 Europa League.

The draw was kind to the Reds, who avoided the likes of Sporting CP, Benfica and Marseille, but Liverpool must still overcome one of Czech football's top powerhouses, who eliminated Galatasaray, if they want to keep their European journey going.

Here's all you need to know about Sparta Prague.

Liverpool's record against Sparta Prague

Dirk Kuyt
Kuyt was the hero for Liverpool last time out against Sparta / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

These two sides have actually met before when they were drawn against each other in the round of 32 all the way back in the 2010/11 season.

The Reds, then led by Sir Kenny Dalglish, travelled to Prague for their first leg but put on a thoroughly uninspiring show as they were held to a 0-0 draw. New signing Luis Suarez was ineligible and Steven Gerrard was injured, and Liverpool really struggled without them.

The return leg was far more entertaining but was still starved of goals until the 86th minute, when Dirk Kuyt popped up with a header to steer Liverpool through to the next round.

Who is Sparta Prague's manager?

Brian Priske
Sparta are led by Brian Priske / Anadolu/GettyImages

Since May 2022, Sparta Prague have been led by Brian Priske. The 46-year-old Dane is a former centre-back who spent most of his playing days in Scandinavia but did have a popular stint in England.

Priske spent the 2005/06 season with Portsmouth, playing a key role in their successful quest to avoid relegation. He twice played 90 minutes against Liverpool that season, conceding three goals each time, also making an appearance as a late substitute in a 2-1 defeat to Rafa Benitez's side in that season's FA Cup.

As a manager, Priske spent eight years up to 2019 as an assistant before jumping at the first-team gig with Denmark's Midtjylland, who he led to the league title and a spot in the Champions League group stages. He was lured away to Royal Antwerp in 2021 before landing in Prague 12 months later.

Priske became the only foreign manager to have won the Czech First League as he led Sparta Prague to an overdue first national title in nine years last season.

Sparta Prague's top players

Lukas Haraslin
Haraslin is the biggest goal threat / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Sparta Prague's attack is led by Lukas Haraslin. The 27-year-old is a left winger by trade but has been used in an attacking midfield role at times this season to try get the most out of his eye for both goals and assists. Haraslin has nine goals in 16 league games at the time of the draw.

Striker Jan Kuchta joined from Lokomotiv Moscow during the summer and has impressed in his debut season with seven goals and seven assists in 19 games. Veljko Birmancevic, another winger, leads the assist charts with eight but has also popped up with three goals in the Europa League so far.

At the back, 24-year-old centre-back Ladislav Krejci captains the side, while towering 21-year-old Martin Vitik is one of the country's most intriguing young defenders. Both players will likely attract interest from scouts for this one.

How have Sparta Prague performed this season?

Sparta Prague
Sparta Prague are flying / MICHAL CIZEK/GettyImages

After winning the Czech title by two points last season, Sparta Prague are on track to retain their trophy. After 21 matches of their 30-game season, Sparta sit top with a four-point lead over city rivals Slavia Prague, who were paired with AC Milan in the Europa League last 16.

Priske's side have lost just once in the league all season but have tasted defeat three times in the Europa League. Real Betis and Rangers both picked up wins in the group stage, while Galatasaray won 3-2 in the first leg of last 32. Sparta then needed a dramatic 4-1 win over the Turkish giants, secured by late goals after a Gala red card, to advance.

Sparta Prague's stadium

Letna Stadium
Letna Stadium holds just under 19,000 fans / Matej Divizna/GettyImages

Sparta play their games at the Letna Stadium, otherwise known at the epet ARENA.

With a capacity of 18,887, Letna has often been used to host matches for the Czech Republic national team. However, England have not played there before, with 2019's meeting between the two nations taking place at Slavia Prague's Fortuna Arena instead.