WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) previews Leicester's clash with Sevilla on Tuesday night in the Last 16 of the Champions League.
Leicester v Sevilla | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport
To qualify or not to qualify? That is the quote that is likely to be in the mind of Shakespeare (no, not that one) ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League Last 16 second leg clash between Leicester and Sevilla at the King Power Stadium.
The La Liga side were in a strong position during the first leg of this tie, having established a 2-0 lead but Jamie Vardy scored what could prove to be a crucial goal to give the Foxes hope.
The reward for Claudio Ranieri? The boot; the 65-year-old Italian boss was relieved of his duties practically before he’d had a chance to pick up his suitcase from the baggage carousel on his return to England after that tie in Seville.
As a consequence, it is Craig Shakespeare who will be in the home dugout for this tie – and the 53-year-old, who has been given the gig until the end of the current campaign – will be hoping for a hat-trick of wins as boss, having guided the Foxes to Premier League wins against Liverpool and Hull.
A tough assignment
It certainly is not, though, an easy assignment, for Sevilla are certainly streetwise when it comes to European competition; the La Liga outfit have won the Europa League in each of the last three seasons and they have suffered defeat in just one of their seven Champions League clashes so far this term – against Juventus in Turin.
Sevilla are just five points adrift leaders Real Madrid (who also have a game in hand) in the race for the La Liga title despite dropping four points in their last two league outings – as a consequence of back-to-back 1-1 draws – while Barcelona, in second place, are three points ahead of Jorge Sampaoli’s side.
Continued progress in European competition, however, is definitely within reach; Sevilla have been beaten in just three of their last 15 matches away from home in all competitions and there is every chance that they have been underrated by the odds compilers ahead of Tuesday’s tussle with a Leicester side that has fallen far short of the standards that they set last season.
A step too far for Foxes?
Leicester’s progress to the Champions League knockout rounds is a remarkable story, but the Premier League side benefitted from a favourable draw in the group stages of the competition and the dream may well die against Sampaoli’s well-drilled outfit.
The Spanish side boast a remarkable pedigree in European competition and the 6/5 (BetStars) quote for Sevilla to win inside 90 minutes could offer value for punters ahead of Tuesday’s test.
Leicester v Sevilla – Sevilla to win (6/5 BetStars)