Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Buoyed by a thrilling 3-0 win over Valencia, Real Betis will look to give fans yet another reason to celebrate when they take on Sparta Prague on Thursday. Los Beticos were beaten by Rangers in Glasgow in their Europa League opener, but it is well known that they produce much better showings at their Estadio Benito Villmarin than on the road. All William Jose, Luiz Henrique, Nabil Fekir, and Youssouf Sabaly are sidelined with injuries, while Morocco international Abde Ezzalzouli is pushing for a start after scoring as a substitute against los Che.
Sparta Prague, on the other hand, defeated Aris Limassol 3-2 on home soil in their opener, but they will have a much bigger fish to fry against the Andalusians, who are a real force to be reckoned with at home. Midfielder Ladislav Krejci is back from the domestic ban, while Sparta defender Jaroslav Zeleny should miss out through illness.
Highlighted Player (William Carvalho):
Angola-born defensive midfielder William Carvalho has overseen a dramatic rise in his stock over the past few seasons at Sporting. William Carvalho is coming from a proper football family since his father and grandfather were also footballers, but his way to the top has had a somewhat dramatic twist to it.
Carvalho moved to Portugal as a child and first started playing football in the streets before he was picked up by Recreativos Desportivos de Algueriao. William Carvalho joined the Sporting football academy at the age of 13 The 24-year-old Portugal star player has spent two years on loan at Fatima and Cercle Brugge, before he got the chance to cement his place in the starting line-up for Portuguese giants.
William Carvalho came through all youth ranks with the Portugal national team, while he was given his senior debut in 2013. Carvalho played an important role in his country’s maiden European Championship title in France over the summer.
Highlighted Team (Sparta Prague):
Established in 1893, Sparta Prague is one of Europe’s oldest clubs and the most successful side in Czech Republic, having won no fewer than 36 league titles and 27 Czech Cup trophies. The club play their games at the Generali Arena in Prague and hold a long-lasting rivalry with Slavia Prague.
Sparta Prague enjoyed their Golden Years in the 1960’s, when average attendance was nearly 40,000 and players like Jiri Tichy, Andrej Kvasnak and Vaclav Masek entertained the crowds week in week out. Rudi largely impressed in the maiden Champions League campaign during the 1991/92 season as they finished second in the semi-final group, meaning they were among top 4 European sides at the moment.
Nevertheless, Sparta Prague have enjoyed little to no success on the European stage since, reaching the Champions League knockout stages on just one occasion, with their latest major coup the return of prodigal son Tomas Rosicky from Arsenal.