We preview Tuesday night's Champions League tie between Leicester and Sevilla, which is being played at the King Power Stadium.
After last week’s histrionics at the Nou Camp, nothing is beyond belief. That is the approach that I have been forced to adopt in approaching this encounter. With their Premier League status hanging precariously in the balance, the Foxes aim to make history by inconceivably progressing to the quarter-finals this week. That precious last-gasp goal by Jamie Vardy in Spain gave some credibility to an otherwise lethargic performance. Jorge Sampaoli’s side were by far the superior outfit and were it not for some heroics by Kasper Schmeichel, the Foxes could have found themselves in an Arsenal-type situation this week. That being said, the away goal leaves all options open as Sevilla travel to the raucous atmosphere of the K Power Stadium.
Leicester City s Sevilla | Tuesday 14 March | King Power Stadium | 21:45
To Win (90 Mins)
Leicester 22/10 | Draw 51/20 | Sevilla 11/10
With Craig Shakespeare now the number 1- in what appears like a hostile takeover from Ranieri in my opinion - City at least have some solidity. And consecutive Premier League victories will allow them to focus on the task at home. Ranieri was sacked unceremoniously in the aftermath of the first leg and Shakespeare will be hoping to vindicate the top brass this week. M Wague looks set to miss out due to a dislocated shoulder, meaning Morgan and Huth will need to harness the defence against the fluid mobility of this Sevilla side.
I expect Shakespeare to opt for the irritation value of Okazaki over Slimani’s physical presence. He may opt to utilise the Algerian later, but Leicester are going to need to be at the races from the very first moment this week. Okazaki also has the ability to track back and pester Sevilla’s playmakers.
Ndidi will need to be destroyer in chief and must try to disrupt Sevilla’s forward players more than last week. He must also watch for those late surges by Steven Nzonzi.
Riyad Mahrez may feel that he could have the beating of Sarabia if he is able to get some go forward ball. Expect the K Power to be heaving as they aim to neutralise the quality divide and drive their team forward.
Sevilla’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Leganes kind of put a final nail in their realistic La Liga ambitions. Jorge Sampaoli will know that his side were far superior in the first leg and should really have run away with the tie. Gabriel Mercado will return from suspension this week and will likely replace Mariano at right-back. Jovetic scored at the weekend and may just have earned a starting berth in this week. His eye for goal could prove crucial as away goals potentially come into play. This will likely mean that Joaquin Correa starts on the bench.
The real strength of this team lies in the interchangeability of their forward players. Vitolo, Vasquez and Nasri will fluidly move around, similar to the way that Arsenal do. That makes for an intriguing comparison, because Arsenal were the only side to complete the double over Leicester in their title winning season. So by that rationale, Leicester are going to find it hard to overcome a superior Sevilla side. But then there are the intangibles - the elements that went into Leicester winning that title. The K Power will be positively jumping on Tuesday night and the players will be keen to distance themselves from the mediocrity of this season.
Verdict: Both Teams to Score- Yes 6/10
This game really seems impossible to call. My brain in pushing furiously in the Sevilla corner, while the old heart can’t help but lean towards a night of European magic for the Foxes. Splitting the difference, perhaps it’s safer to opt for both sides managing to score. Sevilla have too much quality not to penetrate this Leicester side, while an emboldened Foxes will surely find the net in front of their home support.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets