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Aug 3, 2021 at 6pm UK
Sparta PragueSparta Prague

Polidar (17'), Pavelka (34')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Tchouameni (37'), Volland (59')
Fofana (5'), Badiashile (22'), Tchouameni (83')

Preview: Sparta Prague vs. Monaco - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Sparta Prague vs. Monaco - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League clash between Sparta Prague and Monaco, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Sparta Prague will welcome Monaco to Letna Stadium on Tuesday evening, with both sides looking to secure a first-leg advantage in their Champions League third qualifying round contest.

Monaco qualified for this stage after placing third in Ligue 1 last term, while Sparta recorded a 3-2 aggregate victory over Rapid Vienna in the second qualifying round of this season's competition.

Match preview

Sparta finished second behind Slavia Prague in the 2020-21 Czech First League, which ensured that they would qualify for the second qualifying round of this season's Champions League.

The Reds actually lost 2-1 to Rapid Vienna in the first leg of their second qualifying round fixture, but a 2-0 victory in the reverse match, courtesy of goals from David Moberg-Karlsson and Jakub Pesek, secured a 3-2 aggregate success, allowing them to advance to this stage.

Pavel Vrba's side have also made a strong start to their domestic campaign, opening their season with a 3-2 victory over Sigma Olomouc on July 24 before winning 5-0 at Slovan Liberec on Saturday, which has left them top of the division heading into their next European contest.

Sparta played in the group stages of last season's Europa League, finishing third in Group H behind AC Milan and Lille, with their only two victories in the section coming against Celtic.

The Czech giants have not played in the group stages of the Champions League since the 2005-06 campaign, though, which is an indication of the size of their task when it comes to advancing in this competition.

Monaco, as mentioned, have not had to play a Champions League fixture to reach this round, as they automatically qualified for this stage of the competition courtesy of finishing third in Ligue 1 last season.

Les Monegasques are yet to start their domestic season, with their Ligue 1 opener against Nantes scheduled for August 6, but they have played a lot of football over the last month, taking on Red Bull Salzburg, Cercle Brugge, Royal Antwerp, Wolfsburg and Real Sociedad in friendlies.

Niko Kovac's side have not competed in the Champions League since the 2018-19 campaign, when they finished fourth in Group A, which included Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

Monaco famously reached the semi-finals of the 2016-17 European Cup, though, beating Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund in the knockout rounds before suffering a 4-1 aggregate defeat to Juventus.

The eight-time Ligue 1 champions will be looking to secure an advantage ahead of the return fixture on August 10, and Tuesday's contest will actually be the first time that these two sides have locked horns.

Sparta Prague Champions League form:
  • L
  • W

Sparta Prague form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W

Monaco pre-season form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Team News

Sparta boss Vrba is expected to select a similar side to the one that took to the field for the second leg of their second qualifying round match against Rapid Vienna on July 28.

There will be changes to the XI that took to the field against Slovan Liberec in the league on Saturday, with the likes of Moberg-Karlsson and Adam Hlozek set to return in the final third.

Jakub Pesek was withdrawn in the latter stages of Saturday's league contest, meanwhile, and the 28-year-old should start alongside Moberg-Karlsson and Hlozak as part of a front three.

As for Monaco, Kovac is not expected to spring any major surprises when it comes to team selection, with Wissam Ben Yedder set to lead the line with support from Kevin Volland and Aleksandr Golovin.

It could be a back three for the Ligue 1 outfit, with Gelson Martins and Caio Henrique operating in the wing-back positions, while the in-demand Aurelien Tchouameni should feature in midfield.

Kovac will also have one eye on their league opener against Nantes on August 6, but the head coach cannot afford to underestimate Sparta, so it will be a very strong XI for the visitors.

There is a doubt over the involvement of Benjamin Lecomte, who has a hamstring problem, but the 30-year-old is expected to overcome the issue to start between the sticks.

Sparta Prague possible starting lineup:
Nita; Wiesner, Stetina, Hancko, Hojer; Sacek, Krejci, Dockal; Moberg-Karlsson, Hlozek, Pesek

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Lecomte; Sidibe, Maripan, Badiashile; Martins, Tchouameni, Fofana, Henrique; Golovin, Ben Yedder, Volland

We say: Sparta Prague 0-1 Monaco

Sparta are more than capable of making this a very tricky two-legged affair for Monaco, and both sides will be desperate to avoid defeat in the opening fixture. We are expecting a tight and cagey affair in Prague but believe that Monaco will keep a clean sheet and score a goal to place themselves in an excellent position.

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