23rd of November 2016 Author: Johnny Karp
Sparta Prague host Southampton on Thursday, knowing that if they avoid defeat they would earn qualification from Group K. As for Southampton, a defeat could leave their qualification in danger until the last match of the group stage. The reverse fixture went very well for the Saints, they won 3-0 at St Mary's in the first ever direct encounter between these two teams.
Sparta Prague recovered well after having started the Europa League campaign with that defeat at Southampton. Three consecutive wins followed, a string of results that pushed them to the top of the group table, two points clear of second-placed Southampton. If they win Thursday's match they would be guaranteed to finish top of the table, but even a draw could put them through with a game to spare. They are unbeaten in the last four matches in all competitions, with three wins and one draw recorded.
Southampton are really close to pushing their European dream into 2017, but a defeat in Prague would make things quite complicated for the Saints. Hapoel Beer Sheva and Inter Milan are three and four points behind and still in with a good chance to qualify. Southampton beat Inter 2-1 in their last European match, a great result against one of Europe's big clubs, even though Inter have gone through a rough period lately. Manager Claude Puel still has plenty of injury worries, but Dusan Tadic could return after having missed out last weekend's 0-0 draw against Liverpool.
Sparta: Koubek - Karavayev, Mazuch, Kadlec, Nhamoinesu - Julis, Holek, Marecek, Holzer - Dockal, Lafata
Southampton: Forster - Soares, Yoshida, Van Dijk, McQueen - Hojbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse - Tadic - Austin, Long
My prediction: 1-1 draw.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Sparta win - 3.90
Draw - 3.30
Southampton win - 2.15
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As I'm writing that it's 1-0 Sparta on the half time but Southampton making everything possible to at least equalize the score.
If Sparta Prague sustain the pressure it would be quite an upset despite that the odds for them wasn't so high, in the end I'm expecting Southampton to accomplish some kind of a comeback in the second.
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