soccer ball

soccer ballOlympique Lyon have reason to feel confident as Sparta Praha return to the Stade de Gerland for their opening UEFA Europa League Group I game.

Previous meetings
The sides met for the first time in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage, with Paul Le Guen’s Lyon beating František Straka’s team 2-1 in Prague and then 5-0 at home – one of the three heaviest defeats in Sparta’s European history.

The teams for that first encounter in Prague on 28 September 2004 were:
Sparta: Blazek, Pergl, Sivok, Zelenka (Baranek 82), Poborsky, ?ech (Vorisek 46), Urbánek, Kovac, Pacanda (Strihavka 62), Jun, Homola.
Lyon: Coupet, Cris, Essien, Cacapa, Diarra, Juninho (Diatta 83), Malouda, Reveillere*, Govou (Nilmar 85), Wiltord (Frau 73), Berthod.

The teams for the return fixture in Lyon on 8 December 2004 were:
Lyon: Puydebois, Essien, Diarra (Gomez 56), Malouda (Idangar 67), Nilmar, Reveillère*, Frau, Diatta, Bergougnoux, Berthod (Truchet 81), Clement.
Sparta: Blazek, Labant (Urbanek 28), Sivok, Zelenka, Poborsky, Vorisek, Kovac, Simak (Meduna 65), Petras, Jun (Pacanda 79), Homola.
* registered to play for the club in 2012/13.

Match background
Sparta are the only Czech club that Lyon have beaten; their record in four games against Czech opponents reads W2 D1 L1 (W1 D1 L0 at home – W1 D0 L1 in the Czech Republic).

Sparta’s record in seven fixtures against French sides reads W2 D2 L3 (W1 D1 L1 at home – W1 D1 L2 in France). They won their only previous UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage game against French opponents, prevailing 3-2 at Toulouse FC in 2007/08.

Regulars in the UEFA Champions League, Lyon are making their debut in this stage of the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League. This is their first game in this competition since they bowed out to Denizlispor in the third round of the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.

Lyon are without a win in four games in this competition since beating Club Brugge KV 3-0 in the 2001/02 third round on 6 December 2001.

This is Sparta’s fifth group stage campaign in this competition – they made it through to the knockout phase for the first time at the fourth attempt in 2010/11.

Sparta are unbeaten in five European games, including two wins and two draws in qualifying this season.