Scout report: Sparta Prague’s top talents

Sparta Prague have just claimed their first Czech First League title since 2014, dethroning Viktoria Plzen and edging out rivals Slavia Prague with a game to spare.

The 2022-23 champions boast quality throughout their squad, with standout performers across the pitch.

Following their record-extending 13th league success since 1993-94, we’ve used the Twenty3 Toolbox to pick out four of the club’s top talents.

Asger Sørensen

Arguably the standout player from Sparta Prague’s sensational campaign is 27-year-old centre-back Asger Sørensen.

A new arrival in the summer of 2022 from FC Nuremberg, Sørensen’s debut season in the capital was certainly one to remember.

The Dane provided the platform on which Sparta’s possession play was built, cutting a remarkably composed figure on the ball.

In fact, he received (1,297), attempted (1,854) and completed (1,655) more passes than any other player in the division.

Sørensen’s impressive numbers are not artificially inflated through a high volume of simple, safe passes either – he also topped the league rankings for completed forward passes (572), providing evidence of his ambition on the ball.

Furthermore, the Virklund native demonstrated that he is more than capable of pairing old-school defending with a modern ball-playing approach, recovering the ball 350 times and winning 58 loose ball duels – no Sparta Prague player managed more.

He is the complete package and made a huge contribution to his team’s title triumph.

Jan Kuchta

It would be impossible to compile a list of Sparta Prague’s top performers and omit their top scorer this season – Jan Kuchta.

The 26-year-old striker joined on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow last summer and has been rewarded for his contribution with a permanent contract, with the club exercising the buy option in his deal.

Kuchta netted 14 times and did so without the help of penalties – club captain Ladislav Krejci assumed those duties, converting a whopping eight spot-kicks.

However, the centre-forward’s team-leading 69 shots saw him rack up a tally of 15.95 expected goals, suggesting he underperformed with the opportunities he was presented with. His 14.44 post-shot expected goals goes some way to confirming this.

But the Liberec native’s super-strength is his incisive movement and ability to find space in the penalty area, ensuring chance after chance falls his way – no player in the division took more touches in the opposition box than his 142. 

Kuchta also offers more than just goals and is a battling presence up front when Sparta are out of possession. He attempted more loose ball duels than any of his teammates (174), helping to pin opponents back or give his side time to get forward.

All in all, the 14-cap international’s contributions have certainly merited an extended stay at the Letna Stadium.

Jaroslav Zelený

Jaroslav Zelený is one of Sparta Prague’s most unique and versatile talents.

At 30 years old, the defender is the oldest player on this list and is perhaps likely to fly under the radar in a dominant side such as the one he features in.

However, his inclusion is more than merited. 

Zelený is another relatively recent arrival, joining from FK Jablonec at the start of the season to add experience. There are only three players at the club older than him – and he was a calming presence at the back, comfortably slotting in both at centre-back and his preferred position of left-back.

The seven-cap international did the dirty work to ensure his team could dominate the ball and push high up the pitch, succeeding with 246 of his 314 defensive actions, winning 132 of his 210 aerial duels and making 142 interceptions – all more than any of his teammates.

It is rare, however, to find a player so encumbered with ball-winning duties that also contributes to build-up play in such a meaningful way.

Zelený led the side for through-balls attempted (28) and completed (10) as well as progressive runs (55), frequently dragging his team up the pitch and taking the responsibility to pick out an incisive final pass.

It is safe to say that Sparta Prague’s decision to recruit this seemingly unglamorous, experienced defender has paid dividends.

Lukáš Sadílek

Lukáš Sadílek profiles as the ideal modern attacking midfielder for a high-intensity side.

A far cry from the stereotype of the nonchalant No10 who drifts casually around the final third, it seems plausible that Sadílek actually enjoys his pressing duties more than his attacking ones.

The 27-year-old has attempted (182) and won (115) more defensive duels than any other player at the club despite not playing in defence, while he has also registered a squad-high 137 ball recoveries in the opposition half, relentlessly harrying and harassing opposition defenders.

He is not simply a blunt instrument, however, and possesses plenty of creativity to add to his exceptional disruptive talents.

The former FC Slovacko man is particularly creative in wide areas – no Sparta Prague player has attempted (87) or completed more crosses, nor have any of his teammates assisted more shots (43).

Further evidence of the Uherske Hradiste native’s maturity in possession is his team-leading total of 251 completed backwards passes – showcasing his ability to retain possession as effectively as he creates chances.

Sparta Prague clicked into irresistible gear this season, and the graft and guile of Sadílek played no small part in their success.

Sparta Prague are a Twenty3 Analytics Toolbox customer. All visualisations in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.