By Jack Cunningham

25th Nov, 2021 | 9:10am

Sparta Prague Super Fan previews Rangers clash

This is part of a regular series from our panel of Super Fans on upcoming Rangers games. Ahead of Rangers’ game against Sparta Prague in the Europa League, we caught up with Sparta Prague Super Fan Martin Gall from the Sparta Forever fan forum.

Ahead of the huge Europa League clash between Rangers and Sparta Prague, we managed to catch up with Sparta Super Fan Martin Gall.

The Gers or Sparta know that a win tonight could be enough to take them through to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Therefore, it is a massive game for both sides, and with the Gers facing Lyon in their last match of the group, you would think they need to take the three points on offer.

However, Sparta proved in the meeting earlier this year that they are a strong team, and this will be a tough match.

What did you make of the first match?

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It was the most hyped match of the group for the Sparta fans, that’s for sure. After your previous meeting with our arch-enemies Slavia (please, do not mistake Sparta for Slavia. It would be like calling you the Celtic fans) in the spring, there has been plenty of expectations from both sides. We all knew that the two matches between our sides would decide who advances from the group.

I have to say that your goalkeeper, McGregor, was simply awesome in that match. An astonishing performance, given he is almost 40 years old. However, I have to say that our win was deserved. We had so many chances on goal. Unfortunately, Glen Kamara weakened your side with his red card, which made keeping the lead in the last minutes easier for us.

Do you think whoever wins this goes through?

Yes, seven points should be enough to advance at least to the Europa Conference League. A draw seems more favourable for us since our last match is against Brondby, while you will battle Lyon.

Who should Rangers worry about on Sparta’s team?

I will point out the three best players of Sparta Praha: The great promise of Czech football, Adam Hložek. Despite being just 19 years old, this boy is considered the player with the highest potential since Tomáš Rosický (you might remember him from Arsenal). Hložek is often dubbed “The Czech Firmino” for his immense ball-playing skills and ability to shoot from any position. He is also bulky and quick in his movements, making him a real threat for any defence. He is also versatile – he can play on both wings, as a centre-forward, or as an attacking midfielder – you name it!

The young defensive midfielder/centre-back, and possibly the club’s next captain, Ladislav Krejčí jr., also called LK37. Do not confuse him with the other Ladislav Krejčí, who wears number 9 and is a winger. Krejčí is dangerous in any aerial, be it in his box or on the offence. He is especially dangerous during corners because of his high heading accuracy. Unfortunately, he often sees red on the pitch, making unnecessary challenges and taunting the opposing players in order to provoke them. 

Finally, we have the heart of our backline, centre-back Filip Panák. Interestingly, he started playing as an attacking midfielder and was only made a defender three years ago. Most of our constructive play comes from him, so in order to be successful, Rangers will have to cover and press him. Otherwise, Panák is capable of sending sixty yards long through passes if left unchecked. He also has great game-reading skills, often disrupting the opponent’s play long before it gets dangerous.

Who worries you on the Rangers team?

I will also point out three players. 

The goalkeeper, McGregor appears to be a real commanding personality and has great reflexes; he can make the day hard for Sparta Praha forwards.

The winger/attacking midfielder Ianis Hagi, his shots are difficult for any goalkeeper.

And Kemar Roofe. You might be wondering why I left out Morelos from my list. The reason is simple – he can be easily targeted and wound up, which the Sparta players will definitely try to exploit. Therefore, Roofe is better.

What did you think about Steven Gerrard leaving?

I’m sad because we actually had better chance of winning when you were led by Gerrard. Gio looks more like a proper coach for a team of your qualities. In my opinion, he will lead you to your next championship title. Gerrard has a bad reputation in the Czech Republic for being a crybaby, which is unworthy of a coach of the biggest Scottish club!

Score prediction?

2-1 to Sparta. There will be at least one red card, and I bet there will be a penalty kick. Goals: Hložek and Haraslín – Roofe on the counter-attack.

Interesting comments.

This was a fascinating interview, and we want to thank Martin for taking the time to speak to us about the match.

Clearly, the Gers are going to have to be better than they were on Sunday and in the reverse fixture.

Now, Giovanni van Bronckhorst hasn’t had that long to work with the players, but you would hope that the least he gets from them is a reaction.

In many ways, this fresh start could be exactly what the Bears needed as it gives every player a fresh slate.

There are no favourites at the moment; all of the players start at the same level, and it is up to them to prove that they are still hungry and good enough.

Tonight represents the perfect opportunity for them to do that, and it should be a great game.

Sparta, though are no mugs, and the Gers will have to be at their best to seal what could be a huge win.

In other Rangers news, van Bronckhorst has had his say on Connor Goldson’s comments.