Wednesday March 9 2016
Poborsky: ‘Sparta are favourites’

Karel Poborksy believes Sparta Prague’s fans will be “an extra weapon”, making them "favourites" against Lazio.

The pair meet in the Europa League Last 16, with the first leg to be played at Generali Arena tomorrow night.

“I’ve read that Lazio are struggling, but they’re in the top half of the League,” Poborsky, who played for both clubs, pointed out to Fotbal.Idnes.

“They’re a team with good qualities, but they have no stars. In addition, the Olympic will be half-empty for the return leg, whereas here there will be a full-house.

“They fans will be right behind the team and they’ll be an extra weapon. I’m not being biased when I say Sparta are favourites.”

Poborsky spent two seasons with the Biancocelesti, famously scoring twice in his last game against Inter to deny the Nerazzurri the Scudetto, handing it to Juventus.

“I didn’t extend my Lazio contract because my second child had just been born. In addition, [Sergio] Cragnotti’s club had major financial problems at the time.

“We talked about a renewal, but in the circumstances it just didn’t make sense. For those reasons I went back to the Czech Republic. I came back for my family, and coming to Sparta was a good deal.

“My experiences abroad? Manchester United is the biggest and most important club, there’s no comparison. I could have stayed with Benfica - and Lisbon and Portugal in general - for life.

“It was too wet in England.

“As for Lazio, it’s an Italian club with great tradition, I really enjoyed playing there. Looking back on those years though, I can’t believe that a player can be without a private life.

“My teammates and I lived in the suburbs, but if you wanted to take a walk in the city centre you just couldn’t. The fans are very passionate, I often met them.

“The Lazio fans are among the most demanding in Italy, when you win they’re the best fans in the world, but when we didn’t win for five games they protested at the training ground.

“After we lost the Derby [with Roma] the fans came to Formello and threw rocks at our cars. That’s Italy.

“My last game? Paradoxically it was maybe my best game in Italy. Inter came to Rome to win the Scudetto but had to say goodbye to their dream, it was very special.

“It was a curious situation, neither the fans or my teammates were happy we’d won [as they didn’t want to hand the Scudetto to Roma or Juventus].

“Did anyone want to throw it? Absolutely not, we prepared with great professionalism and we played to win.

“At the end of the match there were mixed feelings. My Italian teammates were pleased for Juventus, the Argentines were sorry for their compatriots at Inter.

“I remember [Diego] Simeone didn’t even celebrate after his goal.

“When I went round the pitch at the end of the season I was already convinced of my decision that it would be my last game in Italy, I wanted to go home.”

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