Liverpool vs Sparta Prague preview: team news, lineups, TV, kick-off time, referee & VAR

After Sunday's dramatic 1-1 draw with Manchester City, Liverpool swiftly return to action this Thursday for the second leg of their Europa League last 16 clash with Sparta Prague.

Jurgen Klopp's side come into this game against the Czech league leaders with a 5-1 cushion following their comfortable victory a week ago, so may well take the opportunity to rest some players ahead of the Premier League title run-in.

Backed by the Anfield faithful, it's hard to see an upset coming; but Sparta did pose some problems in Prague a week ago, so the Reds will nonetheless still have to be on their toes.

Here's our Liverpool-Sparta Prague preview.


DATE, KICK-OFF, STADIUM, REFEREE & VAR

  • Date: Thursday 14 March 2024
  • Kick-off time: 20:00 GMT / 15:00 ET / 12:00 PT
  • Stadium: Anfield
  • Referee:Artur Soares Dias

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD

Besides last week's 5-1 drubbing at the epet Arena, Liverpool and Sparta have only met twice before, clashing twice in the last 32 of the Europa League during the 2010/11 season.

During Kenny Dalglish's second spell in charge, the Reds could only manage a goalless draw away in the first leg. It looked as if the second leg would end goalless as well until Dirk Kuyt popped up with an 86th-minute winner to help Liverpool progress.

However, in the next round, King Kenny's side were knocked out by Braga.

WHERE TO WATCH LIVERPOOL VS SPARTA PRAGUE ON TV

As is the case for all of Liverpool's Europa League journey, the clash with Sparta Prague will be shown on TNT Sports 1 and TNT Sports 5 and discovery+ in the United Kingdom.

In Ireland, the game is being shown on Virgin, while there a range of broadcasters across the rest of Europe, including DAZN and Viaplay, with the former also streaming the game in Canada.

The match will be shown on Paramount+ in the United States and Stan Sport in Australia, while ESPN and Star+ are broadcasting the event in South and Central America.

SuperSport are the main providers in Africa, while beIN Sports are the chief broadcasters across Asia.

You can check out TV details for all remaining Liverpool fixtures this season with our one-stop guide.

LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS

While Liverpool's injury crisis continues, there has been some good news in recent weeks.

Dominik Szoboszlai seems to be back to full fitness now having started against Manchester City. Mohamed Salah, too, returned to league action off the bench.

However, Ibrahima Konate looks set to miss the Sparta game after picking up an issue in the first leg. Coach Jurgen Klopp said there was a "good chance" he will return at the weekend for the FA Cup clash with Manchester United.

Bournemouth v Liverpool Premier League 21/01/2024. Ibrahima Konate 5 of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Bournemouth and Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England on 21 January 2024. Bournemouth Vitality Stadium Dorset England Editorial use only DataCo restrictions apply See www.football-dataco.com , Copyright: xGrahamxHuntx PSI-18861-0191

Meanwhile, Ryan Gravenberch, who was diagnosed with a ligament issue following Moises Caicedo's bad challenge during the Carabao Cup final, could return to play some part on Thursday with his injury reportedly not as serious as first feared

However, Trent Alexander-Arnold, AlissonDiogo JotaCurtis Jones, Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago will all miss the game as they step up their rehabilitation.

SPARTA PRAGUE TEAM NEWS

Sparta lost defender Asger Sorensen during the first leg - and he is likely to remain sidelined at Anfield.

The veteran midfield duo of Jakub Pesek and David Pavelka are longer-term absentees and won't make the trip either.

However, defender Filip Panak, who missed the first leg, was fit enough to play 90 minutes in Sparta's surprise 4-0 defeat to third-placed Plzen on Sunday.

PREDICTED LIVERPOOL LINEUP

With the luxury of a four-goal headstart, Jurgen Klopp will likely take this opportunity to rest some of his star players.

That said, he continues to be at the mercy of injuries, so won't have too much room for manoeuvre.

With very few options available in goal and in defence, Klopp may have to go full strength and start Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Bradley, Jarell Quansah and Virgil van Dijk. The only opportunity for rotation could come at left-back with Kostas Tsimikas possibly getting a start.

In midfield, things could be interesting. Wataru Endo, Harvey Elliott and Alexis Mac Allister are due a rest, while Dominik Szoboszlai could do with the minutes. James McConnell and Bobby Clark could therefore start.

Up top, too, could be an opportunity for young players. Lewis Koumas and Kaide Gordon could start alongside Cody Gakpo.

(4-3-3): Kelleher; Bradley, Quansah, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; McConnell, Szoboszlai, Clark; Elliott, Gakpo, Koumas.

Sparta Prague v Liverpool Europa League 07/03/2024. Round of 16 Harvey Elliott 19 of Liverpool during the Europa League Round of 16 match between Sparta Prague and Liverpool at epet ARENA, Prague, Czech Republic on 7 March 2024. Editorial use only , Copyright: xNigelxKeenex PSI-19187-0102

PREDICTION

With the outcome of this tie pretty much a foregone conclusion, this could be quite an open game, with Sparta having nothing to lose.

If the Reds do field a weakened team, they could smell blood and go for it.

Nonetheless, the quality available to Liverpool should be enough to ensure a drama-free evening.

Liverpool 3-1 Sparta Prague

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