Leicester City’s Champions League adventure continues on Tuesday night with the second leg of their last 16 tie against Sevilla. The Foxes were 2-0 down in Seville shortly after the hour mark and seemingly on their way out of the competition, but Jamie Vardy’s instinctive tap-in gave them the all-important away goal. Sevilla had been many a punter’s idea of a banker on the night, and although it was a victory, they failed to put the tie beyond doubt and that leaves Leicester with a fighting chance on home soil this week.
What a Difference a Day Makes
Or three weeks, to be exact. After what was widely regarded as a ‘decent enough’ result for Claudio Ranieri’s men in the first leg, the likeable Italian was surprisingly sacked less than 24 hours later. It was a decision that sent shockwaves through English football, and most neutral fans – who had followed the remarkable title-winning run – suddenly turned against the league Champions. With the midlands club deep in a relegation battle, it was beginning to appear as if the fairytale would have a nightmare ending.
Assistant boss Craig Shakespeare took charge temporarily after Ranieri’s dismissal, and after leading the club to consecutive 3-1 wins, the popular coach has been given the job until the summer at least. That immediate impact has at least helped Leicester draw three points clear of the Premier League relegation zone, and Tuesday night’s match is a one-off shot at the Champions League quarter finals.
By comparison it’s been business as usual for Sevilla as they chase the Spanish Primera Division title, although back-to-back draws mean they now trail Real Madrid and Barcelona by five and three points respectively. The three-time Europa League winners in as many years have proven their Champions League credentials much better this year than they did last, and remain favourites for both the match, and the tie overall. While they are surely worthy of favouritism to progress to the quarter finals, they aren’t necessarily worthy of quotes of +120 to beat Leicester in 90 minutes at the King Power stadium. Particularly as they don’t even need to win to go through.
The Foxes make rather more appeal on the double chance market at odds of -135 with 188Bet.
Second Leg Preparation
The Leicester board – despite the protestations – can say that their decision to sack Ranieri has had the desired effect. The Foxes have performed much better under Shakespeare, culminating in a pair of 3-1 victories over Liverpool and Hull. Jamie Vardy ended his scoring drought against Sevilla in the first leg, and he was on target again twice as Jurgen Klopp’s Reds went down at the King Power. Another home match against relegation rivals Hull followed and another 3-1 scoreline was the result, with Riyad Mahrez finding his shooting boots again as well. Saturday’s Premier League match at Arsenal was postponed as the Gunners were pre-occupied with the FA Cup, so Leicester have had an extended ten-day break to get ready for this huge game.
There has been no such let-up for Sevilla, who have played four times in La Liga since the first leg, most recently on Saturday. Victories away at Betis and at home to Bilbao were recorded immediately after the 2-1 win against Leicester, but Sevilla have been held to 1-1 draws in both games since – firstly away at Alaves, and secondly at home to Leganes over the weekend.
Match Odds & Betting
Both managers have more-or-less full squads to choose from, with no new injury concerns since the first match. Shakespeare has actually named the same starting eleven in both games since he took charge, and it is expected to be the same line up again on Tuesday night.
Another bet which makes some appeal is on the goal markets, where Marathonbet are offering -125 about the teams combining for over 2.5 goals.
So often the harbingers of a 1-0 win last season, that defensive prowess which served Leicester so well seems to have deserted the club along with Kante. The midfield hitman has helped Chelsea to the top of the table, and individually collected more Premier League points than any other player since the start of 2016.
The Foxes last three games have each had three or more goals, and seven of the last ten at the King Power stadium have gone the same way. Seven of Sevilla’s last ten on the road have also had at least three goals and the way this match is poised could lead to an end-to-end game.
Admittedly, Leicester are likely to start conservatively as they try to protect a clean sheet, knowing that a 1-0 win would be enough to see them through on away goals. However, Sevilla will be all too aware of the knife-edge, and one suspects they will be sent out to try and snatch that away strike to put themselves in a commanding position. If there is an early goal the game ought to open up as both teams chase qualification, but even if it does stay tight early on Leicester will have to come out and press at some point. Sevilla are fast and dangerous on the break, and more than capable of punishing any errors. As we have seen in recent Champions League ties over the last few weeks, once a side needs to chase the game organisation goes out of the window, and it’s no surprise that we’ve seen some incredibly high-scoring games in the elite competition.
Leicester or Draw
Tuesday 14th March, 19:45 GMT
Leicester v Sevilla – Over 2.5 Goals
Tuesday 14th March, 19:45 GMT