Slavia face Turks Fenerbahçe Istanbul, in which Czech national team member Filip Novák plays, in the first round of the 2021-2022 UEFA Europa Conference League qualifying phase.
Sparta, the second of the Prague clubs competing in the third level continental cup in the spring, will face Partizan Belgrade, the Serbian team. This was decided by the draw which took place at the UEFA headquarters in the Swiss city of Nyon.
The first leg matches will take place on February 17, followed by rematch a week later. Just as has been the case so far this season, best betting sites in the Czech Republic will cover this competition with attractive odds (only if betting is your thing).
Slavia, as the second team in their respective group, will start with an away game. Sparta, meanwhile, will play the home opener after qualifying for the Europa Conference League qualifiers from third place in the UEFA Europa League group, the second tier in the Continental Cups.
The eight group winners who have qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League will directly join the advanced teams from the first round of the elimination phase, that is to say the playoffs. May 25, the final of the newly created competition will take place in Tirana, Albania.
Turkish giants stand on a Slavia lane
Slavia head coach Jindřich Trpišovský, who was hoping to get Fenerbahçe exactly, is happy with the draw. Czech left-back on the Turkish side, Novák, looks forward to interesting fights with his compatriots. The 31-year-old has been “employed” at one of Turkey’s most famous clubs since last summer.
Fenerbahçe qualified for the qualifiers of the Europa Conference Conference after finishing third in his Europa League group, ahead of Antwerp but behind Eintracht Frankfurt and Olympiacos. The Istanbul club are currently in fifth place in the Turkish league. He finished third in the national championship last season, as he last won the title in the 2013-14 season.
The last time Fenerbahçe faced a Czech opponent was in the 2012-13 Europa League qualifiers when they passed Plzeň after winning 1-0 away and drawing 1-1 at home. The Turkish giants then advanced to the semi-finals, achieving their biggest result on the European stage.
Previously, Fenerbahçe had beaten Sparta 1-0 in the 2004 UEFA Champions League group stage, and they lost the UEFA Cup head-to-head to Olomouc in the 1992-93 season. 1-0 home win and a 1-7 loss to Andriv. In UEFA competitions, Slavia have faced a Turkish opponent only once, in 2003, when they fell to Beşiktaş.
Serbian leaders’ next hurdle for Sparta
Partizan qualified for the playoffs from second place in their Europa League group. Sparta only faced them once, in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup, precursor of the current Champions League, during the 1965-66 season. Sparta won the opener 4-1 at home but dropped out of the competition after a 0-5 road debacle.
Since then, ‘Rudi’ has faced Serbian opponents in the European Cups on four occasions, losing three of them. They lost in the Europa League third preliminary round to another Belgrade team, Crvena zvezda in 2017-18 and failed to qualify for the same competition a year later against Subotica.
“The fans fight for the title in the national competition every year, they are currently leading the Serbian championship with an excellent balance. Usually they concede relatively few goals and are really good at scoring, especially at home. We respect the strength of the opponent, but we want to take the next step in the competition ”, Sparta head coach Pavel Vrba told the club’s website.
“It’s a very interesting draw, we have a prestigious Serbian club with a rich history. They are having a great season in the league, they have a lot of points, they are dominant. I see the odds equally,” added Sparta sporting director Tomáš Rosický.
In the 2017-18 season, Partizan lost to Plzeň in the Europa League knockout stage after a 1-1 draw at home and a 0-2 loss away. The Belgrade side did not succeed against the Czech side even in the 2002-03 season when they were eliminated by Slavia after extra time.
The Partizan has recently been eclipsed by the city’s more prosperous rival, Crvena zvezda. The last time Serbia’s first Champions League finalist (in 1966) won the championship at home was in the 2016-17 season. They are still at the top of the standings for the current season.
For the third time in four seasons, Slavia have reached the spring phase of the Continental Cups. Last season, the Czech champions advanced to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, while the best team on the European stage was in 2019 when they reached the semi-finals of the 1996 UEFA Cup.
Nonetheless, Sparta will take part in the spring part of the Continental Cups for the first time since the 2016-17 season when they also reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
The draw for the first round of the 2021-22 UEFA Europa Conference League Playoffs (first matches on February 17, revenge on February 24):
- Fenerbahçe (TUR) vs Slavia (CZE)
- Midtjylland (DEN) vs PAOK (GRE)
- Rapid (AUT) vs Tottenham (ENG) / Vitesse (NED)
- Marseille (FRA) vs Qarabağ (AZE)
- PSV Eindhoven (NED) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)
- Leicester City (ENG) v Randers (DEN)
- Celtic (SCO) vs Bodø-Glimt (NOR)
- Sparta (CZE) v Partizan (SRB)