How do Leicester stop Atletico?
Frank Monkhouse | 12 April 2017
Foxes have a big ask at Vicente Calderon
Leicester City sent shockwaves through European football when knocking Sevilla out of the Champions League last month to reach the quarter-finals. A special night in the Foxes’ history, but they must double their efforts if they are to continue their dream.
Now under the guidance of Craig Shakespeare, everything looks rosy in the King Power garden again, and they travel to the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday evening, live on BT Sport, with a recent league record reading five wins from six. Liverpool, Hull, West Ham, Stoke and Sunderland have all been scalped during that revival, while they overturned a 2-1 first-leg loss to Sevilla with a gripping 2-0 win in England.
There’s not too much between Sevilla and Atletico in the La Liga table at the moment, with just one point the difference. The hosts were last seen in domestic action battling to a draw with city rivals Real Madrid, Griezmann scoring late to cancel out an opener from Pepe. Leicester would certainly settle for a draw here, or even a narrow away defeat, if they were able to score, but what do the plucky underdogs need to do to keep themselves in this one?
Take Griezmann out the game
Rule number one must be to stop weekend scorer Antoine Griezmann. OK, easier said than done. The French hot-shot is behind everything good about his side at the minute, and has already scored some important goals in this year’s competition. He will line-up without his righthand man Kevin Gameiro however, and that gives Leicester the chance to double-man him, and hope for the best. Madrid failed to score in their last outing at this level, at home to Leverkusen, and have drawn a blank in two of their last three. The travelling support will have everything crossed for another low scoring night, with Coral giving 21/20 on under 2.5 goals.
Win the midfield battles
Whoever wins the war in the middle of the park will win the match. Both sides have plenty going for them in that department, but Leicester are lagging behind their opponents in terms of quality. Gabi, Koke and Saul make up a midfield trio, and that’s amongst the best engine in the competition this year. In Gabi they have a player who is willing and able to roll up his sleeves and get dirty. Koke on the other hand will be keen to get forward and unlock an opponent happy to sit deep. It won’t be the first time he’s been asked to do it, and has become rather good at it, to say the least. What the English side lack on the stats sheet they must make up for in desire, and, put bluntly, aggression.
Shakespeare will be expecting his boys to defend from the halfway line, and knock the flair out of Madrid’s stars. Atletico’s three look narrow, which has its advantages, but when Leicester win the ball in their own half they must attack the space and get up and down those flanks, exposing the space. They have to be brave and take players on, which we’re sure they will. Vardy to score anytime is 7/2 with Coral.
Remain competitive going into the second-leg
Leicester were beaten 2-1 away to Sevilla in the last round, but that goal from Vardy on 73-minutes at 2-0 changed the tie, giving Leicester a chance going back to England. Over two legs a loss isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as they can score. Madrid do have a world class defence, and have won four of their last six in the league without conceding. The Spaniards have conceded in three of their last five at this level however, and Leicester have hit the goal trail domestically, scoring at least two goals in each of their last six. Coral traders have a 3-1 Madrid win at 11/1, and that would keep the round open going to the King Power.