After knocking over Europa League holders Sevilla in the round of 16, Leicester City will be seeking an encore when they square off against another Spanish side in the form of Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
The Foxes were one of three English teams in the Round of 16 and given their poor league form, few expected them to get the better of Sevilla. Despite losing the first leg 2-1 at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Jamie Vardy’s away goal gave them a lifeline, and with new manager Craig Shakespeare stepping in, they produced a remarkable turn around at the King Power, triumphing 2-0 to seal their progress into the last eight at the expense of the Andalusians.
Leicester seemed destined for the drop when Shakespeare took over from Ranieri, but the 53 year old has breathed new life into the Foxes’ campaign and has led them to six straight wins in all competitions, including five in a row at the King Power that has all but guaranteed league safety.
Leicester’s last five games at home have seen them score 12 goals and concede just two. Their last three games at home have been clean sheets- identical 2-0 wins over Sevilla, Stoke and Sunderland.
Given the Foxes’ form at home, Atletico will be keen to take control of this tie in the first leg at the Calderon. Leicester do have the advantage of playing the return leg in England and the King Power has already been sold out for that clash.
Atleti’s home record is as good as Leicester’s, if not better. Only two teams have got the better of them at the Calderon in the league this season- Real Madrid and Barcelona, and Diego Simeone’s side also beat Bayern in the group stages. The Bavarians crushed Leicester’s league rivals Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate in the Round of 16, so the Foxes know they’re up against strong opposition.
Wes Morgan is a doubt for Leicester, but in his absence Yohan Benalouane has stepped up well and will continue to deputise for the defender should he not be able to travel to Spain.
Route to quarterfinals- Leicester City
Club Brugge 0-3 Leicester
Leicester 1-0 Porto
Leicester 1-0 Copenhagen
Copenhagen 0-0 Leicester
Leicester 2-1 Brugge
Porto 5-0 Leicester
Sevilla 2-1 Leicester
Leicester 2-0 Sevilla
Route to quarterfinals- Atletico Madrid
PSV 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich
Rostov 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Rostov
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Rostov
Bayern Munich 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen
The punters have Atletico as firm favourites. Coral, for example, have Los Colchoneros at ¼ with Leicester being quoted at 11/1. If you fancy the Foxes at those odds, you might want to get some Coral Betting done ahead of the game.
Leicester are England’s solitary representatives left in the Champions League after the exits of Man City and Arsenal. Atleti are one of three Spanish teams in the last eight and have reached the final in two of the last three seasons, losing on both occasions to cross town rivals Real. The one season when they exited in the last eight, was also at the hands of Real, losing 1-0 on aggregate in a tight two legged affair.
Atletico will go into this game on the back of a crunch derby against Real, and are fighting a battle on two fronts- with Sevilla still chasing them for an automatic spot in next season’s CL. Leicester can focus all their attempts on Europe and Shakespeare will be aiming to do what Roberto di Matteo did with Chelsea five years ago.
Atletico Madrid v Leicester City (April 12, 2017) 19.45 UK