Can a Recovered Leicester Shake Things Up in the Champion’s League?
After manager Ranieri was fired Premier League winner Leicester won their next two fixtures.
There was conflict among supporters and the organization about whether to fire Ranieri, but it is hard to argue with the results at this point.
Their upcoming CL opponents Sevilla, have been playing great in the Spanish League lately.
Sevilla is trailing leaders Real by 5 points, and Barca by 3, it still seems to be a tight race, with Sevilla holding hopes at finishing as league champions.
As a club with a proud history and tradition, they were able to attract some big name players this season, and could potentially be a storm in this year’s Liga.
In the second leg Leicester will welcome Sevilla in their home ground.
So let’s try and predict the game with the odds and looking at each team’s condition.
-The First Leg
The first leg was played in Sevilla’s home ground. With Sevilla being a Spanish powerhouse playing in their home country, it was a pretty one-sided affair.
Sevilla had 73% possession in that match, especially in the early goings, Leicester looked completely out of sorts against Sevilla’s crisp passing play.
Sevilla was able to get 22 shot attempts, with Leicester being held to a mere seven.
It was definitely a tough game for Leicester, but they were still able to keep it close, losing 2-1. With this maybe Leicester could leave the game with a slightly more satisfied feeling.
Especially Kasper Schmeichel’s PK stop could end up being a regret for Sevilla in the second leg.
On the other hand Sevilla will need to start finishing their abundant chances, rather than just getting possession.
For shots on target, Sevilla had 7, with Leicester only getting 2. Even with this they could only win by a goal, which must feel like a missed opportunity.
The second leg at Leicester’s stadium, might be more difficult than expected.
-Both Teams Form
After the first leg, Sevilla has kept up their good form, but Leicester’s circumstances seem to be changing.
With the surprise fire of Ranieri things were shaken up. Because they haven’t played well in their home ground, there was some controversy over the move.
Also the replacement manager had not been decided yet so the interim coach was leading the team.
Because of this, the team that was about to break down completely, was able to turn things around and silence their critics.
Soon after Ranier was fired, they were able to win their next match against power club Liverpool.
This must have a huge boost for Leicester’s supporters to see the their squad playing their famous long counter style of play.
After that they won their next match against Hull City, and now they go into their next game against Sevilla in great form.
As for Sevilla, after their match with Leicester they have not lost a game, and seem to be in great form. However they do have some concerns about their ability to finish off chances.
In their past 5 games, their highest goal total was 3, and each game felt like a seesaw affair. There are some concerns about their attacking in the second leg.
If Leicester can get the first goal in their home stadium, we might get to see a huge upset at the end of this round.
In the first leg Leicester seemed to get pushed around by Sevilla, but around the end of the game they started to show off their strong points.
It was obvious to see they were trying to restrain Sevilla’s attacks, by frustrating them with an aggressive high press. They seemed to really get back to their own aggressive style of play.
What Leicester needs in this second leg is a high work-rate. Not only a solid defense and offense with the forward press, but also they should use their long counter style from their defense.
They should focus on Vardy and Mahrez and play good counter Soccer. Leicester’s midfield doesn’t have a lot of skilled players, but they have a lot of hard workers, including Danny Drinkwater.
Also Wilfred Ndidi has been able to fill in the hole that Kante left.
As a player with high awareness his skills are very necessary for Leicester.
The game will probably require a similar cooperative defensive effort as we saw against Liverpool.
Stopping Sevilla star Samir Nasri will be the key for them.
In the first leg Nasri played as a midfielder and was the key playmaker for Sevilla. Will they continue to use this formation in the second leg or change things up?
Perhaps seeing the PSG and Barca match has some players concerned. They want to put all of their focus on the start of the game, and try and get the first goal as soon as possible in Leicester’s home ground.
There is no need for them to feel anxious about the upcoming match, but there is a definite possibility they will lose if they don’t score the first goal.
Because they have not been able to finish off their chances so well lately, they want to avoid getting caught up in Leicester’s counter as they pass around the ball.
With Sevilla even scoring 1 goal Leicester is in a really bad position to lose, so in the beginning of the game Leicester might come out with a cautious style of play.
They want to get the first goal as soon as possible by using short passes through the midfield to set up a side attack.
On defense they should be careful of off the ball attacks including the Vardy Mahrez combo, and be careful of getting attacked in their open space.
Also it is a key point for Sevilla to stop Drinkwater’s high press. If their lack of ability to score catches up to them, Leicester could take over the game quickly. [If you think in a different way even if they lose a goal, if they gain one back, they are guaranteed to go to the best eight.]
For Sevilla if they can pull off a draw they are guaranteed a trip to the best eight. A good attacking strategy is definitely a necessity for them.
So let’s expect a variety of attacks from these amazing players.
-So let’s look at the odds.
Now let’s look at the bookmaker’s odds and predict this game.
So of course Leicester has the disadvantage. The world really seems to give Sevilla the advantage in this match.
Their results in their home leagues must be the reason. [Leicester 17th place, Sevilla 3rd place]. Sevilla is clearly on a different level when you look at it like this.
But it seems like Leicester is starting to gain back their winning form from last season.
It is a fact that Sevilla has a higher possibility of winning, but their have been a lot of unexpected results in this year’s CL so it is really tough to predict until the end.
After the new manager took over for Leicester people have been getting excited about Okazaki, who has started the last 2 games.
Especially for Japanese fans this a game you can’t keep your eyes off.
This game Leicester vs Sevilla, Sevilla is surely feeling pressure from being the favorites; However can they really make it to the best eight.
On the other hand Leicester who are the miracle champions of last year are hoping to pull of the same feat this year too.
This can’t miss game will take place March 14th in British time!