Sparta Prague will know that Liverpool sailed through their group to make their way to the Generali Arena, and that was accomplished despite a fair amount of rotation from former boss Roy Hodgson.
But the Czechs are no pushovers, as evidence of the same is present in their past games in the group stage of the Europa League.
The hosts had to endure a difficult 3-0 loss to CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital, but went on to recover and go unbeaten in their next four games in the tournament. That they edged out Serie A side Palermo to occupy second spot in Group F and ensure progression is proof enough that their opponents would be best advised not to take things easy.
Still, on paper, they go into the first leg of the double header as underdogs, and a victory at home would likely give them enough inspiration to push forward with what would be a famous result.
This game will be new boss Kenny Dalglish’s baptism in the Europa League, as all previous games in this competition saw former manager Roy Hodgson at the helm.
Domestic troubles saw the Merseyside club divorcing the current West Brom boss, as they brought in club legend Dalglish to take charge until the end of the season.
The Merseyside outfit has since had a new lease of life under the care of the new boss, and is currently unbeaten in six games in all competitions.
But they may have been dealt a blow as previous reports point towards skipper Steven Gerrard being unable to make the starting line-up due to fitness concerns, though it could be argued that the boss could continue Hodgson’s rotation policy and give the captain a rest.
Dalglish could also bench Raul Meireles for this game, as the former Porto midfielder was suffering from a slight virus during the recent 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic. Dirk Kuyt could also be benched to give some much needed experience to the team’s younger forwards.
But all said and done, Liverpool are the stronger side and a loss will likely result in a big dent in confidence.
The Czech side is likely to put forth a strong line-up, as that is arguably the only way through which they can hold their own against Liverpool.
Sionko looks set to start on the right side of midfield for Sparta, while Keric is expected to partner Kadlec in attack.
Possible starting XI: Zitka; Brabec, Bondoa, Hejda, Pamic; Sionko, Vacek, Husek, Podany; Keric, Kadlec.
There are reports concerning skipper Steven Gerrard’s fitness, with suggestions that the talismanic midfielder may not be able to play any part in this game. But manager Kenny Dalglish could employ some rotation and yet manage to pull off a positive result.
Luis Suarez is ineligible and will play no part in this game, while Jonjo Shelvey is sidelined. Jay Spearing is still recovering from an injury.
Possible starting XI: Reina; Kelly, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Johnson; Maxi, Lucas, Poulsen, Jovanovic; Cole; Ngog.