Sparta Praha shrugged off a slow start to their UEFA Europa League Group H campaign by beating Celtic handsomely in Glasgow on Matchday 3, and the Czech Cup winners will be looking to complete the double over the winless Scottish champions as they take them on again in Prague.• Celtic’s third successive home defeat in the UEFA Europa League left them bottom of the group with just one point, Sparta leapfrogging them into third place thanks predominantly to a hat-trick from striker Lukáš Juliš, who thereby doubled his tally of European goals. The 4-1 final scoreline was Celtic’s heaviest home defeat in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League and Sparta’s joint biggest away win in the two competitions combined.
Highlights: Celtic 1-4 Sparta Praha• Sparta are unbeaten in their three home matches against Scottish visitors in UEFA competition (W2 D1), the draw coming in the most recent fixture, 0-0 against Hearts in the first round second leg of the 2006/07 UEFA Cup, with the Czech side going through 2-0 on aggregate.• Celtic have yet to score in two visits to the Czech Republic, although the results both favoured them in the two-legged ties, notably a 0-0 draw against Dukla Praha – following a 3-1 home win – in the semi-final second leg of the 1966/67 European Cup, which they famously went on to win.Form guideSparta• Sparta won the 2019/20 Czech Cup, beating Slovan Liberec 2-1 in the final, to qualify for the UEFA Europa League group stage, where they are appearing for the seventh time, the first under new coach Václav Kotal. They have made it through to the knockout phase in four of their previous six participations, reaching the quarter-finals in 2015/16.• This is the club’s 38th successive European campaign but their first in a group stage since 2016/17, when they finished top of a UEFA Europa League section containing Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Southampton and Internazionale before going out in the round of 32 to Rostov (0-4 a, 1-1 h). Since then Sparta have been eliminated on entry in the UEFA Europa League qualifying phase three summers running, going out last season to Trabzonspor in the second qualifying round (2-2 h, 1-2 a).• Sparta have lost only two of their 18 UEFA Europa League home group games (W11 D6) but had their 15-match unbeaten run ended on Matchday 1 when they were humbled 4-1 in the Czech capital by LOSC Lille.Celtic• Celtic were declared Scottish champions for the ninth year in a row last season – and 51st time in all – despite the Premiership being called off in March. A 16-match European campaign that started in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round ended in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, where, after topping their group for the first time, they were knocked out by Copenhagen (1-1 a, 1-3 h).• This term Celtic failed to negotiate the UEFA Champions League qualifying phase for the third successive summer, losing 1-2 at home to Ferencváros in the second qualifying round, but 1-0 away wins at Riga and Sarejevo put Neil Lennon’s side into the UEFA Europa League group stage. This is the tenth successive season that the club are competing in a UEFA group stage and their seventh autumn series in the UEFA Europa League, three of their six previous participations having continued into the round of 32 – though never further.• Celtic’s 2-1 win at Lazio on Matchday 4 last season was only their second victory outside Glasgow in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. Their all-time away record in the competition now stands at W2 D11 L10 following the 2-2 draw in Lille on Matchday 2.Links and trivia• Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton’s next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 50th, while team-mate James Forrest has featured on 99 occasions.• Sparta’s Swedish midfielder David Moberg-Karlsson spent the second half of 2013/14 on loan at Kilmarnock and played in a 0-3 home defeat by Celtic.• Sparta’s Andreas Vindheim and Celtic’s Mohamed Elyounoussi have played together for Norway Under-21s.• Celtic are one of six former European Cup winners in this season’s UEFA Europa League group stage, the others being Benfica (Group D), PSV Eindhoven (E), Feyenoord (K) Crvena zvezda (L) and Group H rivals Milan.• The seventh UEFA Europa League group stage appearance of both Sparta and Celtic is a record number for their respective countries.