PUNDIT’S PREVIEW: LEICESTER CITY V ATLETICO MADRID

Event: UEFA Champions League quarter final 2nd leg

Date: Tuesday, 18th April 2017

Kick Off: 7:45pm (Nigerian time)

Venue: King Power Stadium, Leicester, England

 

 

 

Leicester City have surprised many by remaining a guest at the top table of European football at this stage of the competition and a place in the Champions League semi-finals beckons if they can overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.

Recall the Spanish team are a side who have thrived on adversity to compete in two Champions League finals in the last three years, having made it to four successive quarter-finals.

Definitely, Leicester were outclassed for large parts of the first leg at a fervent Vicente Calderon Stadium but, crucially, return to the King Power Stadium today with their storied opponents well in their sights after Antoine Griezmann’s solitary goal.

I think they are betting everything on the second leg,” Atletico’s charismatic manager Diego Simeone told reporters after a tough first encounter with the Midlands side.

It was a hard-fought match. It’s a good win for us but the second leg will be difficult. It’s all still to play for.

As for the second leg, we anticipate a fantastic English atmosphere. The tie is still 50/50. Nobody sees us already in the semi-final.

Defender Robert Huth is out due to a suspension and there are doubts over Wes Morgan while Mendy remains in the recovery room with an ankle injury. Islam Slimani is unlikely to feature due to a groin strain. On the other hand, Atletico are hopeful that Kevin Gameiro will be available after the striker returned to training this week. However, Diego Simeone can’t count on Tiago and Sime Vrsaljko for tonight.

 

 

 

KEY STATISTICS TO BEAR IN MIND AS THE COUNTDOWN TICKS AWAY

-67.7% of teams having won their Champions League first-leg 1-0 at home have progressed to the next round (21 out of 31).

-Leicester City are the first team since Malaga in 2012/13 to reach the quarter-finals on their Champions League debut. They’re also the eighth English team to make it to the Last 8 of the competition, more than any other country.

-Atlético Madrid have the chance to reach the semis of the Champions League for the third time in the last four seasons. They had never reached that stage previously (since 1992/93).

-Atlético Madrid have kept 27 clean sheets in 45 Champions League games under Diego Simeone since 2013/14 (60%), that’s five more than any other team over that period (Real Madrid 22).

-Leicester are the lowest scoring side in the Champions League among the eight teams left in this season’s competition (10 goals in 9 games), 50% of their goals have come from set-piece.

-Leicester City have won all four of their Champions League home games this season (6 goals scored, 1 conceded).

-Leicester City didn’t have a single shot on target in the first leg at the Caldéron.

-No team conceded more penalties than Leicester City in this season’s Champions League (4, only 2 of which were converted).

-Atlético Madrid’s only previous away Champions League game against an English side under Diego Simeone saw them beat Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in April 2014.

-Atlético Madrid have won seven of their nine Champions League games this season (D1 L1). No team has collected more victories.

-Atlético Madrid have kept 27 clean sheets in 45 Champions League games under Diego Simeone since 2013/14 (60%), that’s five more than any other team over that period (Real Madrid 22).

-Antoine Griezmann has scored or assisted 52% of Atlético Madrid’s goals in the Champions League since last season (12 goals and 3 assists).

-Ryad Mahrez is directly involved in six of Leicester’s 10 Champions League goals this season (4 goals, 2 assists).

-Jamie Vardy has scored only one goal in eight Champions League games (681 minutes).

 

 

 

MANAGERS’ QUOTES

Craig Shakespeare (Leicester City): “There are no free games in football and we are not here to make up the numbers, we’re here to have a right go – that will be the first message. Yes, you want footballers to enjoy it and play with a smile on their face because that is when you get the best out of them, but we also need to be smart and alert to all the things it takes to win a match.

We have the right balance within the squad – you have to have fire in your belly but you also have to have cool, smart heads at times and we’ve proved over the last 18 months we are more than capable of that.

Our players have to be smart, we have to take our own house and get that in order, we can’t worry about the opposition’s bench – we’ll let the officials take care of that. We have to be mindful in terms of us being smart and our game management has to be good. We have to be aware of all those things. Ultimately we have to get our own house in order. We will focus on ourselves but be aware of Atletico. We know what we have to do and we can’t sit back for 90 minutes because we need to score. There are different ways and come the game we’ll find out if we’ve found a solution.

 

 

Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid): “Leicester are in decent form and in the last six or seven games they have been back to doing what they did last season. Because of our qualities and theirs too, in some respects we are very similar. It will not be too different from the game in Spain – a hard game with a narrow scoreline, decided on small details.

The best thing my team have done these past few years is to compete, in every competition we play in, and I think it’s a big strength of this group. We come out strong at the Calderón, they do the same in their stadium. We’re two teams that feed off small details. It’ll be a close contest.

 

 

 

FORM GUIDE (all competitions, most recent first)

Leicester City: DLLWWW

Atletico Madrid: WWDWWW

 

 

 

VERDICT: With the terrifying atmosphere at the King Power Stadium coupled with the drive, determination, agility in the Leicester players, I expect them to stretch the Spanish giants and shackle them a bit but again Diego Simeone’s men are used to this kind of situation. We have seen them go to difficult ground in and out of Spain and come out unscathed. I don’t have a definite scoreline to give out here but I think and feel Atletico Madrid will do enough to advance to the semis. Experience and quality will do that for them.

 

 

RECOMMENDED BETS: X (full-time draw) or X2

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