Leicester City continued to make surprised everyone in Europe, as they defeated Spanish club Sevilla 2-0, at the King Power Stadium, on Tuesday night, to progress to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League 2016/17.
The reigning league champions had lost their first leg of the clash 2-1, back in Seville, but was able to rally back and produce a comeback against Jorge Sampaoli’s side, with goals from captain Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton on either of half-time.
They’ve have struggled badly in the Premier League this season, following their superb league triumph victory last season. Stucked up in the relegation battle, the club Thai’s owners decided to part ways with manager Claudio Ranieri not so long ago. While it may seem too far-fetched this time and improbably for Leicester to win the Champions League, the Foxes have shown they are capable causing havocs and here are three reasons why the Foxes could go all the way in Europe’s premier football event:
Momentum and Belief
It has been difficult for Leicester City in getting back to their winning ways this season, after flabbergasting everyone last season. However, Leicester have been performing incredibly in Europe. The Foxes finished well in the group-stage which had the likes of FC Porta, FC Copenhagen and Club Brugge. They lost just one from six games in the group stage, they are now into the final eight of the Champions League competition.
Even the most passionate Foxes season ticket holder supporters wouldn’t have believed their club would make it to the quarterfinals of the prestige competition and unbelievably, here they are. Based on their UN-impressive performances in the league, the Foxes have managed to find their lost glory at the continental level.
Given their recent superb change in form, they have balance on their side. These are kind of traits that saw them win the league last season which may gone missing in league games, but these traits are seen in European ties and could take Leicester City quite a long way in the competition.
New Boss, Craig Shakespeare Effect
Since former assistant manager Craig Shakespeare took over from Claudio Ranieri, there has been a turnaround for the Foxes.
Under the former Italian boss this season, the Foxes have found themselves in shambles. There’ve been strong speculations claiming that exit is certain to some of the squad members whilst claim and counter claim on the interweb says about Ranieri and his support staff – mainly Shakespeare.
Now, new intense has been found as the reigning EPL champions are getting things together back again. It would be too soon to judge the new boss with just three games, but looking at the manner in which his side have gone about since his take-over from the Italian, surely, it shows some encouraging signs.
Kasper Schmeichel Will Keep Saving Them Literally
From playing for smaller teams like Bury and Notts County to rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest clubs in Europe, and managing to stand out with classy performances, Kasper Schmeichel has come a long way far his his career.
It takes superb performances to stand out in the competition with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas, but Danish international, in his first ever season in the competition, has arguably been the best goalkeeper in the Champions League. It would be right to say without Schmeichel, the Foxes would not have made it that far in Europe.
In the six European competitions that he has featured this season, the Danish goalie has kept a clean-sheet on five different occasion. Quite amazing! Here’s another, in those six games, Schmeichel has had 21 shots taken at him and he managed to save 19 saves, conceding just two goals. Amazing right? And two of those stops have come from the penalty spot, one of which came up at him on Tuesday against Sevilla.
Schmeichel between the sticks, is the one who inspires confidence in his teammates. The 30-year-old is a commander on the field, in the dressing room and also someone who the squad looks up to. He has played an immensely crucial role for the Foxes so far in the Champions League and can lead them to glory come May, much like his father, the great Peter Schmeichel did with Manchester United, years ago. Undeniably, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.