FC Thun, playing their first home in the competition will take heart from the fact that they beat the Czech champions 2-1 in a pre-season friendly.
“We know we have a chance because we defeated Sparta in a game this summer,” coach Urs Schönenberger said.
“We want to win and the minimum requirement is a point. We need to play to our best, otherwise the opposition could prove too strong.”
“My goal is still to get that third place,” he said.
Thun will field an understrength team tonight: midfielder Tiago Bernardi has concussion, captain Andreas Gerber is struggling with an achilles problem, while goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic and striker Mauro Lustrinelli are carrying knocks but should be fit to play.
Sparta coach Jaroslav Hrebik expects a tough contest from “very compact” opponents “who play good and modern football”.
“Even in the summer I thought they would beat [FC] Dynamo Kyiv in qualifying and have a chance for the group stage,” he said.
Hrebik offered to resign after the defeat to Baník at the weekend, only to receive a vote of confidence from his players.
“I asked the players if I should go and they said ‘no’. I am not surprised by that decision,” added Hrebík.
His only injury concern is striker Miroslav Matu_ovi_ who has a bruised hip. If he misses out, Miroslav Slepicka and Libor Dosek will play up front.