Sevilla, Feb 21: Sevilla have one of the best chances they will ever have to qualify for the quarter-fils of the Champions League when they play Premier League Champions Leicester City in the first leg of their last-16 tie here on Wednesday.
Leicester’s title win last season will go down as one of the great fairy stories in the history of football, but this season has seen the side coached by Claudio Ranieri come back to earth with a bang, reports Xinhua news agency.
The English champions are now locked in a struggle to avoid relegation to the championship, while last Saturday saw them knocked out of the FA Cup by League One (third tier) Millwall.
Reigning Europa League champions Sevilla, on the other hand, are enjoying another fine season and are currently in third place in Spain’s Liga Santander with just FC Barcelo and league leaders, Real Madrid ahead of them.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli has carried on the work begun by Ui Emery by turning Sevilla into a hard-working outfit which likes to control the midfield through French duo Steven N’ Zonzi and Samir sri and with the pace of players such as Vitolo and Wassim Ben Yedder able to cause damage in attack.
The Chilean’s main dilemma for the match is whether to move back to a three-man central defense with the return of Nico Pareja following injury, or to play with a flat back four with Pareja and Adil Rami has his duo of central defenders.
Sampaoli’s excellent season with Sevilla has led to him being mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Luis Enrique at FC Barcelo and progress in Europe would certainly add to his credibility should the Camp Nou come calling.
Meanwhile Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri is currently the favourite to be the next Premier League boss to lose his job in the so-called ‘sack race’.
He will be looking for his side, who will be cheered on by 2,500 travelling fans, to return to their former rock-solid defence and hope Jamie Vardy can recapture the spark which last season made him an England intertiol. IANS