14th of September 2016 Author: Johnny Karp
Southampton will make their debut in the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday when they play host to Czech side Sparta Prague at St Mary's. The Saints have been knocked out in the preliminary rounds in previous seasons. This will be the first meeting between these two sides but Southampton might feel optimistic knowing that Sparta Prague have only won one of their nine games played away against English teams.
The Saints have not enjoyed the best of starts under new manager Claude Puel, the team is still under construction after having lost a bunch of important players this summer. They have not won any of their first four Premier League matches of the season, recording just two draws at home and losing both away matches. Jeremy Pied will not play at all this season due to a knee injury, Florin Gardos is out injured again while Sofiane Boufal is also out until October.
Sparta Prague are unbeaten in their first six league matches of the season but they reached the Europa League after being knocked out of the Champions League qualifying round by Steaua Bucharest. They knocked out Danish side Sonderjyske in the Europa League playoffs after a goalless draw away and a 3-2 win at home. Head coach Zdenek Scasny enjoys a clean bill of health for his squad ahead of this match.
Southampton: Forster - Martina, Van Dijk, Fonte, Targett - Hojbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse - Tadic, Rodriguez, Redmond
Sparta Prague: Koubek - Karavayev, Holek, Kadlec, Nhamoinesu - Sural, Vacha, Marecek, Frydek - Julis, Lafata
My prediction: Southampton to win 3-1.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Southampton win - 1.57
Draw - 4.00
Sparta Prague win - 6.00
7th of November 2018
20th of September 2018
Southampton start of the season wasn't great but I think they werenâ€™t so poor in some of the matches and in fact the team has the class to improve later in the season. Obviously Sparta Prague wasn't match for them in this game but I think the main target for Southampton should be the PL and UEFA League coming after that as a priority, as for any English PL team by the way.
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