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Schalke's goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann (L) looks on as Prague´s forward David Lafata (R) celebrates his goal during the UEFA Europa League football match AC Sparta Praha vs FC Schalke 04 in Prague, on November 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Southampton Vs Sparta Prague: The Perfect Preview

The Saints put themselves in a strong position to make it through to the knockout stage of the Europa League with a win over Inter Milan last time out. Now they will be up against group leaders Sparta Prague and this is one of those occasions where a draw wouldn’t be a bad result for the Premier League side as that would keep them in second place.

Sparta Prague have won all three group stage games since losing to the Saints on match day one at  home and will be looking for revenge while Southampton will be looking for a similar outcome once again to leapfrog ahead of the Czech giants and make their qualification certain to the round of 16.

Southampton’s form this season has been quite up and down but the Saints qualifying for the round of 16 will be a historic achievement for the ambitious club who just got promoted to the Premier League four years ago. This is their maiden season in the Europa League and the group they were drawn into was not the easiest too.

Claude Puel’s side have been impressive in the Europa League so far and have what it takes to overcome Sparta Prague at home.

Team news

Southampton

Full-backs Matt Targett and Jeremy Pied are certain absentees. Backup keeper Alex McCarthy is slightly doubtful while Dusan Tadic could miss with a broken nose.

Sparta Prague

Winger Martin Frydek and midfielder Lukas Vacha are out with injuries for the visitors.

Predicted lineups

Southampton (4-1-4-1): Forster; Martina, van Dijk, Fonte, Bertrand; Romeu; Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Davis, Boufal; Austin

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Charlie Austin of Southampton celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Southampton and Crystal Palace at St Mary's Stadium on September 21, 2016 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Sparta Prague (4-2-2-2): Koubek; Karavaev, Holec, Kadlec, Nhamoinesu; Marecek, Havelka; Julis, Holzer; Lafata, Pulkrab

Key players

Southampton- Charlie Austin

The English forward has been the best player for the Saints so far this season without any shadow of doubt. He was on target twice against Sparta Prague in the reverse fixture and will be looking to get on the scoresheet once again. 8 goals from 15 games- the 27-year-old is in the form of his life right now and will pose the biggest threat to the Czech giants.

Sparta Prague- David Lafata

Sparta Prague skipper David Lafata is in a startling form this season having scored 11 goals from 23 games in all competitions. The 35-year-old will be a huge threat for the resolute Southampton defence who held in-form Liverpool attack with perfection on Saturday.

Odds

Southampton win – 23/20

Draw – 23/10

Sparta Prague win – 29/10

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