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Europa League | Group Stage
Nov 30, 2023 at 5.45pm UK
Epet Arena
Real Betis logo
Sparta Prague
1 - 0
Haraslin (54')
Birmancevic (38')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Ruibal (22'), Pezzella (70'), Miranda (88'), Rodriguez (90+2')

Preview: Sparta Prague vs. Real Betis - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Sparta Prague and Real Betis, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Aiming to take a step closer to booking their place in the Europa League knockout stage, Real Betis will travel to the Czech Republic on Thursday to take on Sparta Prague in the penultimate round of group fixtures.

Heading into the final two games, the Spanish outfit currently top the group but only lead second place by two points, while their hosts find themselves third and three points outside the top two.

Match preview

Sparta Prague coach Brian Priske reacts on November 9, 2023© Reuters

Sparta Prague return to Europa League action on Thursday hoping to strengthen their bid to continue the continental campaign with a top-three group finish, having managed four points from their opening four games.

After dropping out of Champions League qualifying at the hands of Copenhagen and coming from behind to beat Dinamo Zagreb 5-4 on aggregate in the Europa League playoff round, the Czech champions enjoyed a pleasing start to the group stage, as they hosted Aris Limassol and began with a three-point haul, scoring a 3-2 victory thanks to Ladislav Krejci's brace and a Martin Vitik goal.

The Zelezna Sparta have been unable to build on that winning start since, though, having added just one more point to their tally in the last three attempts, firstly losing 2-1 away at Thursday's opponents in Spain, despite going ahead through Veljko Birmancevic inside three minutes, before playing out a goalless stalemate at home to Rangers.

A trip to take on the latter in the reverse fixture then followed last time out on the continent, but Brian Priske's side would leave Ibrox empty-handed, with Lukas Haraslin's 77th-minute goal not enough to spark a turnaround after Danilo and Todd Cantwell had netted for the hosts in the first half, although they have bounced back impressively since, now heading into Thursday's contest on the back of 1-0 and 2-0 wins over Banik and Zlin respectively to stay two points clear at the top of the Czech top flight.

Currently finding themselves in third spot in the group, which is good enough for a place in the Europa Conference League playoff round as it stands, but with just a one-point lead over Aris Limassol while trailing Rangers by three points, Sparta Prague will certainly know they have not yet done enough to guarantee advancement in Europe and will be desperate for a crucial victory on Thursday which could at least guarantee them a place in the knockout stage of the continent's tertiary competition.

Real Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini on October 26, 2023© Reuters

Their visitors, meanwhile, head into the latest group outing aiming to move within touching distance of the Europa League round of 16, having enjoyed an impressive campaign thus far on the continent.

Last season's sixth-placed finish in La Liga guaranteed Manuel Pellegrini's side a spot in the group stage of Europe's secondary competition, and they have put themselves in pole position to qualify for the next stage with nine points from their first four matches, despite suffering a 1-0 defeat away at Rangers in the first round of fixtures.

Los Verdiblancos rebounded from that opening setback as they hosted Sparta Prague and came from behind to hand Thursday's hosts a 2- 1 defeat, thanks to Assane Diao's leveller and Isco's winning goal 11 minutes from time, before making it back-to-back three-point hauls as Ayoze Perez netted the only goal in a 1-0 triumph away at Aris Limassol.

A reverse fixture against Aris then followed in the previous round of games, and Pellegrini's side strengthened their position in top spot in the group with a more convincing victory, dishing out a 4-1 beating at the Estadio Benito Villamarin as Borja IglesiasAitor Ruibal, Marc Roca and Abde Ezzalzouli all got on the scoresheet.

Such a result leaves Real Betis two points ahead of Rangers in the one guaranteed round-of-16 spot with two games to go, including a meeting between the two sides in Spain next month, and now on the back of a 1-0 victory over Las Palmas to extend an unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions, they will look to at least take an advantage into that Rangers tie, if not seal top spot depending on the group's other result, with a fourth straight continental win on Thursday.

Sparta Prague Europa League form:

Sparta Prague form (all competitions):

Real Betis Europa League form:

Real Betis form (all competitions):

Team News

Real Betis' Andres Guardado, German Pezzella and Marc Roca celebrate after the match on October 26, 2023© Reuters

Sparta Prague may head into Thursday's contest with an unchanged starting XI from their recent 2-0 league victory over Zlin in a 3-4-3 setup, and Veljko Birmancevic will line up with confidence in attack having taken his tally to nine goals for the season with a brace in that match.

He will likely join Jan Kuchta and Lukas Haraslin, who leads the squad's scoring charts with nine goals in 19 appearances across all competitions so far this term alongside three assists, while Tomas Wiesner will aim to offer further attacking support from a wing-back role.

Captain Ladislav Krejci will fight to return to the midfield from the outset, after Kaan Kairinen and Lukas Sadilek were preferred at the weekend, while Martin Vitik, Filip Panak and Asger Sorensen set to line up in an unaltered back three.

Real Betis continue to deal with several outfield injuries in the form of Youssouf Sabaly and Marc Bartra, but Pellegrini's real problems come in goal, with both Claudio Bravo and Rui Silva both confined to the treatment room, meaning Fran Vieites will continue to deputise between the sticks.

In front of him, Hector Bellerin, German Pezzella, Chadi Riad and Juan Miranda may line up in an unchanged back four from their win and clean sheet against Las Palmas at the weekend, although Aitor Ruibal will be fighting to return at the back from the start following his goal in their last group outing.

Elsewhere, Andres Guardado and Marc Roca will both fight to displace William Carvalho and Guido Rodriguez, while Nabil Fekir could return from the outset in the middle of a supporting trio behind a lone striker, with Borja Iglesias and Willian Jose, who has netted 10 goals in all competitions so far this term, fighting to lead the line.

Sparta Prague possible starting lineup:
Jensen; Vitik, Panak, Sorensen; Wiesner, Sadilek, Krejci, Zeleny; Birmancevic, Kuchta, Haraslin

Real Betis possible starting lineup:
Vieites; Ruibal, Pezzella, Riad, Miranda; Roca, Carvalho; Abde, Fekir, Perez; Jose

SM words green background

We say: Sparta Prague 1-2 Real Betis

Real Betis certainly have a tough trip on their hands on Thursday, with Sparta Prague fighting for crucial points on home turf, but Pellegrini's side have the quality to come out on top in the Czech capital, and we fancy them to make it four straight three-point hauls in the group.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Tables header RHS

Group A

QWest Ham650115
4Backa Topola60151

Group B

4AEK Athens61144

Group C

QSparta Prague631210
4Aris Limassol61144

Group D

QSporting Lisbon632111
3Sturm Graz61144

Group E

3Union SG62228

Group F

3M. Haifa61235

Group G

QSlavia Prague650115
4Sheriff Tiraspol60151

Group H

QB. Leverkusen660018

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