UCL: Sevilla v Leicester City Preview


Our European football scribe gives his verdict on Wednesday's Champions League tie between Sevilla and Leicester.

Jorge Sampaoli has a lot to be proud of.  His side have admirably kept pace with those bastions of Spanish football: Real Madrid and Barcelona. They have done this while simultaneously navigating the perils of Europe’s major club competition. And they really could not have hoped for a more pleasing draw than this one. Leicester City are in the doldrums.The farcical defence of their Premier League title has now been overshadowed by a shock F.A Cup exit to championship pugilists Millwall. They do however have a terrific record in this seasons Champions League: they are the first team since Malaga in 2012/2013 to finish top of their group in their first season.

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Sevilla v Leicester City | Wednesday 22 February | Estadio R. Sanchez Pizjuan | 21:45

To Win (90 Mins)
Sevilla 7/20 | Draw 36/10 |  Leicester 7/1

Sampaoli’s side have some excellent stats in their favour. They have the most clean-sheets in this season’s competition with 5 out of 6. They also have won 10 out of their 14 home matches in Champions League history, scoring in all of those encounters. It’s strange, however, to see how the goals have been spread around. Wissam ben Yedder is their leading scorer with 2 goals, and he will probably start on the bench. It indicates the ‘all for one and one for all’ ethos of the club.

Stefan Jovetic will lead the line while the tremendously skilful trio of Vitolo, Nasri and Vazquez will interchange fluidly behind them. Michael Krohn-Dehli and Benoit Tremoulinas will both be unavailable due to injury, but Sampaoli will have a generally healthy squad to select from. Escudero and Mariano provide the width down the flanks and should be able to give Sevilla some excellent initiative considering the more defensive approach of Simpson and Fuchs.

Leicester City
Claudio Ranieri’s side really have to do well this week. Their participation in the latter stages of the Champions League is the entire justification of their demise in form. They have the lowest average possession of any of the qualified sides, with just 41.6%. It seems as if they are employing the exact same tactics they utilised so effectively en route to their tile last season. They are clearly going to sit on the counterattack while this technically astute Sevilla side dictates possession. That may actually work to the advantage of a side that has all too often deviated from that recipe this season.

Ulloa looks likely to miss out, while Slimani is also a major doubt this week. The record signing Algerian has scored 9 goals in 23 appearances and will be a major loss, especially considering the physical presence he provides. Wague also looks set to miss out with a dislocated shoulder, meaning that grumpy old men Morgan and Huth will be the central defensive partnership. I really don’t see how they will withstand Sevilla in full swing. They can be devastating when in possession and I predict a long night for the Foxes.

Verdict: Sevilla (-1) 1/1  
I fancy a 3-1 win for Sevilla here but the sensible thing is to take them on the handicap. For those who are looking for a bit more bang for their buck, the 3-1 win is available at 10/1.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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