Taking a closer look at LFC's UEL Round of 16 opponent, Sparta Prague

The Reds will try to take the next step in Europe against the Czech side.

LASK v Liverpool FC: Group E - UEFA Europa League 2023/24
LASK v Liverpool FC: Group E - UEFA Europa League 2023/24 / Christian Hofer/GettyImages

Liverpool will have a few days of rest and training before they continue their unprecedented hunt for silverware. The next challenge in front of them is the Europa League Round of 16 1st leg against Sparta Prague.

I'm going to look into some things to know about the Reds newest European opponent. Let's dive right into it.

Prague plies their trade in the Czech First League. They currently sit at the top of the table in the league with a four point cushion. They boast a strong 19-3-1 record through their 22 league matches to date.

As a result, this is going to be a confident side heading into this tie. Winning builds belief and they will look to cause a major upset if things can fall their way.

They also boast a very healthy +40 goal differential having scored 55 times this season. They finished second in their Europa League group with 10 points. This was extra impressive as they placed ahead of La Liga side Real Betis.

History of Success

Historically speaking, Sparta Prague are one of the most successful clubs from their homeland. They are 13-time Czech league champions and 7-time Czech Cup winners. Winning is not a new concept for them.

Their best ever run in a European competition was reaching the 2015/16 Europa League Quarterfinals. They were taken out by Spanish side Villareal 6-3 over the two legs. In 2003/04 they reached the Champions League Round of 16 where they fell to AC Milan via a 4-1 aggregate.

They have qualified for the Champions League group stage 7 times in their history while they have been in the Europa League group stage 6 separate times.

Outside of that, they have been frequent fliers in the Champions League or Europa League qualifying and playoff rounds.

Not their first meeting with Liverpool

Sparta Prague battled the Reds before in this same competition. They took on Liverpool in the 2010/11 Europa League second round in a two-legged affair.

The Czech side actually secured a 0-0 draw in the first leg before losing a nail biter a week later in the 2nd leg 1-0 via a Dirk Kuyt goal. Those are their only two meetings with Liverpool, and granted it was a very different club at that time, but it could be something they draw on heading into this meeting.

The first leg of this season's meeting will be played in the Czech Republic. Prague's home stadium has a capacity just under 18,500. It is an environment that can be a very difficult place to play.

Probably the biggest example of the difference between these two clubs is a look at Sparta Prague's biggest transfer in the history of their club. €3.75m to sign Nicolae Stanciu in 2017/18. A stark contrast to Liverpool's spending over the years.

We will take a closer look at the Prague squad later this week, but now we know this isn't a minnow that the Reds are a dealing with. It's a club with a rich history that knows how to get results.

Liverpool will be aiming to not be their next major milestone.