Our long awaited match against Scottish Champion Rangers is here! Many Sparta fans were happy to be drawn against Rangers as they still remember last season´s games against Celtic (2x 4:1). That was however different team, different playing style and different coach. Sparta has come (again) a long way in shaping up what finally should be team of local Champions. Success that we have been waiting since 2014!
Tomas Rosicky, our sports director and former Gunner was not that active on transfer field as many fans would want/expect. Especially on the position of right back. To surprise of many fans Sparta decided to extend contract to Andreas Vindheim, who seems to be favorite on this spot. Due to his injury however, Tomas Wiesner (originally central midfielder, later right-winger) had to fill in this position. As Vindheim is back, I would expect him to start though. On left side Sparta bought Casper Hojer, a Danish player with a fantastic left foot and dangerous mainly from free kicks but he did get injured in third game in Sparta jersey. This really seems like a dark magic was thrown at our players with injuries. Hojer, who was never injured in his career, managed to play just three games and he is out for the winter. His youth replacement Matěj Polidar got injured just few weeks later, however he could be back already for the Rangers game. If not, then on left back will start Dávid Hancko, Slovakian international. Arguably our best central defender, but also the only option remaining.
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Injuries are crucial for us right now as there are 10 (!!) players currently on the injury list. Including our captain and former captain of Czech national team Borek Dockal and his youth replacement and our wonderkid Adam Karabec. Also both Ladislav Krejci (yes, there are two with exactly the same name) are out for more weeks and mainly Ladislav Krejci younger was in spotlight from clubs from Premier League this summer. That goes also for Adam Hlozek, our generation talent who’s on spotlight on every club in Europe. Hlozek is the only one from named players who is currently not injured (knock knock) however has a dry spell in scoring goals. He replaces them with assists when he is on position number 10. As a lone striker in Pavel Vrba´s favorite system 4-2-3-1 he hasn’t been much successful in goal department. Unlike in last season where we played with Lukas Julis (also injured) as two strikers and were destroying one defense line after another. Hlozek played just half of the season (due to an injury) but still won the title of league top scorer!
Sparta despite the injuries started well this season and knocked out Rapid Wien in Champions League path to lose to Monaco in another round. Unfortunately, due to racist monkey sounds coming from the stands, our game against Rangers will be played behind closed doors. Well not really, as Sparta leveraged the possibility to get kids into the stadium (under 14 years old) and there will be the maximum possible (around 10,000). Kids from all around Republic from schools, football clubs, foster homes etc. will make good atmosphere and possibly have the experience of a lifetime. Here I need to add that Sparta as a club acted very strongly towards the racist issue and identified at least 12 individuals who got lifetime ban to the stadium.
Let’s just hope we will see great football on Thursday, fully in fair play, without any issues and let the best team win (Sparta!) 😉 Just after the game against Rangers, Sparta will face Slavia in local derby on Sunday. Big week for us and we want six points!
Expected line-up: Nita – Vindheim, Panák, Čelůstka, Hancko – Pešek, Pavelka, Sáček, Hložek, Haraslín – Drchal.
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