Chelsea vs. Sparta Prague: 3 Danger Men to Look Out For
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Trailing 1-0 after the first leg of their Europa League clash with Chelsea, Sparta Prague will travel to West London on Thursday looking to pull off a major upset against the Blues.
We know where the main threat of the night will come from where Rafa Benitez's team is concerned, but what of the Czechs?
They currently sit third in the Gambrinus Liga, trailing rivals Viktoria Plzen by just three points. Their success this term has been based on a solid defence and midfield, conceding just 12 goals all season—the second-best record domestically.
But Sparta can cause problems offensively, too, and the Blues will need to keep a watchful eye on the Czechs' attacking instincts if they are to build on their victory in Prague last week.
Bleacher Report looks at three stars who could very well make Chelsea pay the ultimate price if the Blues are not at the races on Thursday.
Like all good strikers, Kweuke can score goals in any situation—as this clip shows.
Cameroon has always produced fine strikers. Roger Milla and Samuel Eto'o are just two who spring to mind, and while Leony Kweuke may not have scaled the heights of his compatriots, he remains very capable in the penalty area.
He is the joint leading goalscorer domestically for Sparta Prague with five, but while he hasn't transferred that form into European competition, he has still been effective.
The Czechs had to overcome Feyenoord in their Europa League playoff earlier this term to reach the competition proper, and Kweuke was influential. The Cameroon international bagged two assists in the away leg, as Zelezna Sparta drew 2-2 in Holland, giving them the perfect platform to finish off the job on home soil—which they did, winning 2-0, 4-2 on aggregate.
He missed out in last Thursday's clash with the Blues, appearing from the bench with just 15 remaining in place of David Lafata. But given more game time this week, he will certainly give Chelsea something to think about.
Kweuke has one Europa League goal to his name this term and will be desperate to double that tally against Chelsea.
As this collection of goals shows, Husbauer is a goal threat.
Chelsea have their own goalscoring midfielder in Frank Lampard, and in Josef Husbauer, Sparta Prague have theirs.
Headers, running from deep, long-range shots or tap-ins—the 22-year-old has it all in his repertoire. He has already bagged two goals in the Europa League this season, adding to his two strikes domestically, and he will be a major threat from midfield.
Whoever Rafa Benitez deploys in the defensive midfield position will have a tough job tracking Husbauer's runs and containing him. Husbauer endured a frustrating match last week, with goalscoring opportunities hard to come by, but with his team needing to rescue the tie, it may just suit him on Thursday evening.
His equalizer against Lyon in the group stages gave Sparta the points they needed to progress. Can he help do the same against Chelsea?
Wondering what all the fuss is about? Check out this video of Vaclav Kadlec.
At just 20 years old, Vaclav Kadlec is being tipped for big things in the Czech Republic and further afield.
Since making his debut for Sparta Prague at just 16, he has been on the radar of some of Europe's leading clubs. He even had an unsuccessful trial at Liverpool the following season, but while a move to Anfield may have fallen through, he has continued to impress.
The youngster has four goals to his name in the Europa League this term—three of which came against Feyenoord in the playoffs, with him bagging a brace in Holland.
A sign of his development this term is the total of eight goals he already has in all competitions, marking his best return in a season that still has some way to go.
Will he add to that tally against Chelsea?