Sparta Praha and PEC Zwolle will meet in the second leg of the Europa League play-offs on Thursday night at the Stadion Letna in Prague, with each side hoping to secure a place in the group stages of the competition. With the score sitting at 1-1 from the first leg it promises to be another close encounter with an away goal tipping the advantage slightly in favour of Sparta Praha. However, PEC Zwolle will be keen to progress in what is their first ever season in the Europa League.
Europa League Play Off: Sparta Praha v PEC Zwolle Preview
Sparta definitely have more of a history in European competition than Zwolle. This will be their 239th appearance in European football and they have gained a respectable reputation in that time. They reached the semi-final of the old European Cup back in 91-92 season and can also boast of reaching the same stage of the Uefa Cup back in 1972. For their fans, competing in the Europa League is demanded after Sparta crashed out of the Champions League qualifiers to Malmo. They will be hoping a win tonight can kick start their season both domestically and in Europe. After starting the season well with three wins, their form has slumped of late losing two games on the bounce. They will need to quickly regain their early season form to overcome a Zwolle side in good form and with nothing to lose.
Zwolle enjoyed something of a fairytale season last year. They won their first ever major trophy when they defeated the mighty Ajax in the final of the KNVB Cup. This victory granted them qualification for the Europa League for the first time in their history. The have gone on to prove this victory wasn’t a fluke by beating Ajax again, this time in the Super Cup. Indeed, they have started the season in impressive style having won their first three games and are currently sitting joint top of the Eredivisie. If there is a concern about Zwolle it is their inexperience at this level. They may find it tough against a seasoned Sparta side who will have a partisan crowd backing them.