Europa League: Previewing games involving Liverpool, West Ham and Brighton

By on March 4, 2024

Evan Ferguson Brighton

The Europa League continues this week as the round of 16 first legs get underway on Thursday. Let’s take a look at who the Premier League contingent will be playing as Liverpool, West Ham and Brighton battle it out for a place in the quarter-finals.

Sparta Prague vs Liverpool

Let’s start with the current Premier League leaders as Liverpool take on Sparta Prague at the Letna Stadium in the Czech Republic at 5.45pm on Thursday evening.

The Merseysiders bypassed the first knockout stage after finishing top of their group and were rewarded with a tie against Sparta Prague in the last-16. After losing the first leg of their last-32 tie away to Galatasaray, Sparta Prague staged a superb comeback after winning the second leg 4-1 to progress to the next phase.

Liverpool head into the game off the back of a dramatic 1-0 win away to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Darwin Nunez came off the bench to score the winner in the 99th minute to boost Liverpool’s title push. The Reds extended their lead at the top to four points with the win at the City Ground, before Man City reduced the deficit back to just one point with a 3-1 comeback win over Man Utd on Sunday.

The top two meet at Anfield on Sunday in what could be a potential title decider. It will be one of the biggest games of the season and fans are having to use a ticket marketplace just to get hold of a ticket as it sold out weeks ago. Understandably, there is already a huge buzz around the game against Man City as it will go a long way to determining where the title ends up, however, Jurgen Klopp must first focus on the task at hand and that’s a trip to Sparta Prague on Thursday.

Team news

Liverpool still have a number of injury issues to contend with ahead of the game. Joel Matip will miss the rest of the season following knee surgery on an ACL injury. Diogo Jota is also facing several weeks on the sidelines with a medial knee ligament injury while youngster Stefan Bajcetic remains out with a muscle problem.

Trent Alexander-Arnold won’t return until after the March international break due to a knee injury and number one goalkeeper Alisson Becker is also weeks away from returning from a thigh injury.

Curtis Jones is still recovering from an ankle injury – although Klopp hopes to have the midfielder back before the international break. Mohamed Salah missed the win at Nottingham Forest due to a thigh injury and he’s unlikely to be risked for the trip to Sparta Prague.

Ryan Gravenberch is also out with an ankle ligament injury while Thiago Alcantara’s injury misery continues as the Spaniard is out with a hamstring problem. Therefore, Klopp is set to be without nine players for the trip to the Czech Republic.

There was some positive news for Liverpool at the weekend as Dominik Szoboszlia and Wataru Endo make their returns from injury off the bench against Forest. Darwin Nunez also passed a late fitness test and came on to score the dramatic late winner so they should all be in contention on Thursday.

As for Sparta Prague, they have virtually a full fit squad to choose from with right-back Andreas Vindheim the only absentee on Thursday.


Klopp is almost certain to rest some of his key players ahead of Sunday’s huge Premier League showdown with Manchester City so the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Alexis MacAllister and Luis Diaz should be rested. Youngster such as Bradley, Danns, Clark, McConnell, and Quansah could feature in a youthful line-up.

Despite their inexperience, I still think Liverpool will have enough quality to bring home all three points. Sparta Prague 0-2 Liverpool

AS Roma vs Brighton

We have an exciting game to look forward to on Thursday as Brighton take on Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma needed to navigate the play off round after finishing second in their group and they were pushed all the way by Feyenoord. After the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate, Roma eventually progressed after winning the penalty shoot-out 4-2.

The Serie A outfit were rewarded with a tie against Brighton – who booked their place in the last-16 outright after winning their group. The Seagulls have been inconsistent in the Premier League this season and they sit in ninth place in the table with a record of 10 wins, 9 draws and 8 defeats from their 27 games so far.

Last time out, they were soundly beaten 3-0 by Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. However, they’ve been virtually faultless in Europe and Roberto De Zebri will be quietly confident that his side can beat Roma over two legs to book their place in the quarter finals.

Team news

Brighton have injury problems to worry about with a number of players missing. Solomon March is out with a knee injury while Maoru Mitoma has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a back injury.

Jack Hinshelwood isn’t available due to an ankle injury, Joao Pedro is still recovering from a thigh injury and James Milner is out with his own thigh problem.

The likes of Pascal Gross, Ansu Fati and Danny Welbeck are pushing for recalls after being named on the bench against Fulham at the weekend.


Brighton know this will be a tough game away to Roma – who are vastly experienced in European competition. The Stadio Olimpico is an intimidating place to visit and Roma have found some form lately having won their last three Serie A games, so they’ll be confident of picking up a victory in the first leg at home. The Seagulls have the quality to cause Roma problems but we think the Italians will edge it. Roma 2-1 Brighton

Freiburg vs West Ham

Later on Thursday night, West Ham will be in Germany to face Freiburg at the Europa Park Stadion in their first leg. The two will know each other well having faced off in the group stages earlier in the season.

West Ham will be confident of coming out on top over the two legs as they finished above Freiburg in first place in Group A and won both group stage games. They won 2-1 away in Germany before easing to a 2-0 win at the London Stadium in December, so that should give them the physiological edge.

The Hammers ended a poor run of form with a 4-2 victory over Brentford on the 26th February before beating Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday. Therefore, they come into this game in confident mood having climbed up to seventh in the Premier League table.

However, Freiburg should also be in good spirits after holding Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw at home last time out which has left them sitting ninth in the Bundesliga table.

Team news

David Moyes has virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from with Max Cornet the only absentee. The likes of Ben Johnson, Michail Antonio, Kalvin Phillips, Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell are pushing for recalls after being named on the bench at the weekend.

As for Freiburg, they could be without Daniel-Kofi Kyereh as he’s still recovering from cruciate injury. Kenneth Schmidt, Max Rosenfelder and Philipp Lienhart are also set to miss the game.


The wins in the group stages will give West Ham confidence but Moyes would probably be happy with a draw to take back to the London Stadium. Freiburg won’t make it easy at home and we think they might take something from the game to make it nicely poised for the second leg. Freiburg 1-1 West Ham