Cape Town - Leicester
will need to dig deep to avoid suffering an embarrassing result against
an in-form Sevilla in their Champions League last-16 first leg clash at
the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday evening.
While Sevilla are hot on the heels of La Liga leaders Real Madrid and
second-placed Barcelona after a phenomenal first half of the season,
Leicester are in a real relegation dogfight, four places from the bottom
of the Premier League standings, in 17th place.
Sampaoli's side have lost just twice in 13 games across all
competitions and come into this game on the back of a 2-0 win over
While Claudio Ranieri's charges have been impressive in Europe this
season, they have won only one of their last eight ties, and come into
this game with some real confidence issues, having last lost to Millwall
in the FA Cup.
Ahead of this game, Sampaoli said: "We're not talking about the team
that won a league miraculously, you have to live in the now.
"So last year Leicester won the league but right now they are
fighting relegation. The present matters the most. Ranieri got so much
from the team last year with so little, but now he is struggling.
"They were brilliant in the league last year and have been great in
the Champions League, they qualified very quickly so in a two-legged tie
it still poses a lot of risks for us."
Ranieri added: "The Premier League is a priority when there is a
match in the Premier League. Now there is a match in the Champions
League. The priority is always the next match.
“Tomorrow (Wednesday) could be the turning point. It could be
everything. If we win, something could change. We need one match like
“We know in our mind we are the underdog. If you see in the last 10
years what Sevilla achieves it’s amazing. They are used to staying at
the top. They have good players but we are ready to fight and ready to
play our football."
In team news, Sampaoli must do without Gabriel Mercado, who is
suspended and the injured Nicolas Pareja (groin) while Islam Slimani
(groin) is out for Leicester, as is Leonardo Ulloa (thigh).