Champions League: Leicester v Sevilla

Leicester City v Sevilla

Wednesday March 15, 6:45 am

 

Leicester

What a difference three weeks make. When Jamie Vardy poached a late away goal in Seville, Leicester were down in the dumps, seemingly sleepwalking towards the Premier League relegation zone, Claudio Ranieri unable to arrest the slide. Things have moved quickly since, the controversial sacking of the Italian and accompanying fallout segueing into a pair of heartening pair of wins over Liverpool and Hull.

Craig Shakespeare is the new captain of the ship and was rewarded for his promising start when the Foxes announced on Sunday that he will remain in charge for the rest of the season. Presumably, a few more positive results and there’s a chance he’ll get the reins on a permanent basis thereafter.

Shakespeare’s next task – the taming of the shrewd Jorge Sampaoli – won’t be an easy one, but Vardy’s strike in the first leg means the tie is finely balanced ahead of Tuesday’s return. With no new injury issues, the likelihood is that Leicester will line up with the same XI used in the last two matches, with Shinji Okazaki getting the nod over Islam Slimani in attack.


Sevilla

If Leicester are newly buoyant, the same cannot be said of their opponents on Tuesday. Sevilla have endured a frustrating fortnight, first dropping two points away to Alavés and then failing to put away Leganés at the Sánchez Pizjuán this weekend. Those draws have left the Los Blanquirrojos five points off the pace in La Liga.

“If we give this performance again, we will have a lot to worry about in the Champions League,” Sampaoli said after the Leganés game. But their record away from home in the competition so far will provide some solace: Sevilla didn’t concede a single goal in trips to Juventus, Dinamo Zagreb and Lyon. Repeat that trick and they will reach their first European Cup quarter-final since 1957/58.

None of Samir NasriSteven N’ZonziVitoloVicente IborraSergio EscuderoGabriel Mercado and Nico Pareja started for Sevilla on Saturday, so should be well rested. The main concern for Sampaoli may be in the final third: the attacking fireworks we saw between November and January have been nowhere to be seen recently.


Match Odds

Sevilla are understandably rated as the better team by the market, which has them as 2.26 favourites to win in 90 minutes and 1.33 shots to complete the job and make it through to the last eight. Their knockout pedigree is undeniable and it is worth noting that, across their three consecutive Europa League wins in the seasons prior to the current one, they lost just three of 15 away games from the round of 32 onwards, including finals.

The case for Leicester relies more on feeling. Will the Shakespeare bounce be enough to get them over the line? Will the improved mood bridge the technical gap between the two sides? If you think so, the Premier League champions are available at 3.35.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Leicester have found their shooting boots after a galling barren patch in the Premier League, scoring three times against both Liverpool and Hull. That boosts their hopes of finding a way through on Tuesday night, although they’ll likely find the going a bit tougher against a Sevilla side that have not conceded more than one goal in any of their last eight matches.

That stat, coupled with the Spanish side’s decreasing returns at the other end, gives us reason for pause as far as the goal markets go. But there should be ample encouragement for Sevilla to go after an away goal, which would leave their hosts with a mountain to climb and could lead to an open match.

Over 2.5 goals is an option at 1.83, but both teams to score covers the 1-1 draw and is probably a more sensible banker at 1.70. If you fancy a real thriller, meanwhile, over 3.5 and over 4.5 goals can be backed at 3.00 and 6.00 respectively


To Score

Sevilla tend to share their goals around, but there could be some legs in backing midfielder Iborra to add to his two goals in his last three starts. He is a major threat on dead balls, times his runs well on counter-attacks and is 3.55 to notch.

On the Leicester side of things, Vardy looks the natural pick here at 2.98. He troubled Sevilla in the first leg and followed that up with a brace against Liverpool, suggesting he is coming into a bit of form.


Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Both teams to score at 1.70