Foxes banking on home advantage with tie finely poised

Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare will be counting on marksman Jamie Vardy to create history against Atletico Madrid.
Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare will be counting on marksman Jamie Vardy to create history against Atletico Madrid.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Leicester City remain a surprise guest at the top table of European football, but a place in the Champions League semi-finals beckons if they can overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Spanish heavyweights Atletico Madrid.

The English Premier League outfit have made a remarkable progression to the last eight, and today face 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.

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

"I think they are betting everything on the second leg," Atletico's charismatic manager Diego Simeone said.

"The second leg will be difficult. It's all still to play for. Nobody sees us already in the semi-final."

In the previous round, Leicester overcame a similar 2-1 deficit against Sevilla, winning 2-0 at home in the return leg to set up the Atletico showdown.

"Atletico are a very good team, their work ethic is exceptional. We know it is a going to be a very difficult return match, but we have very good record at the King Power," said Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare.

Atletico welcome back French striker Kevin Gameiro, who missed the first leg with hamstring problems, but Portuguese midfielder Tiago, who returned from injury as a substitute in Saturday's 3-0 LaLiga win over Osasuna, has been left out.

Croatia defender Sime Vrsaljko and Argentinian midfielder Augusto Fernandez are also missing through injury.

Leicester could be without several key defenders through injury and suspension.

Captain Wes Morgan has not played since the return leg against Sevilla and is doubtful, German centre-back Robert Huth is suspended while French defender Yohan Benalouane limped out of Saturday's 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace.

REUTERS

LEICESTER V ATLETICO MADRID

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Foxes banking on home advantage with tie finely poised'. Print Edition | Subscribe