Daily Archives: February 22, 2017

Ranieri: Leicester can turn season around at Sevilla

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Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri says that their Champions League last 16 first-leg tie at Sevilla could help the Foxes turn their season around.

The defending Premier League champions are struggling domestically as they sit just once place and one point above the relegation zone.

However, they have relative success in Europe, winning four of their six European fixtures this season.

“This game could be everything,” said Ranieri. “If we win, something could change. We need one match like this.”

Ranieri went on to talk about the need for “matadors, gladiators and soldiers” at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, where Leicester City will play arguably the biggest fixture in their 133-year history when they meet Jorge Sampaoli’s team for their Round of 32 first leg.

But the Foxes are without striker Islam Slimani (groin), and will face a tough task against the La Liga giants who also possess strong European credentials.

Five-time Europa League winners, Sevilla in the Champions League for the second successive season. They are also third in the La Liga table and have lost just twice at home all season — to FC Barcelona in Spain and Juventus in the Champions League.

“We know in our mind we are the underdog,” added Ranieri.

“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.”

Champions League: City beats Monaco in eight-goal thriller

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Premier League club Manchester City came from behind twice to defeat Ligue club Monaco by in a thrilling Champions League second round encounter that finished 5-3.

Pep Guardiola watched as his Blues team took the lead through Raheem Sterling after fine work from Leroy Sane.

But Monaco quickly answered by proving their formidability, and went ahead of City before half-time with goals from Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe.

Keen for a two-goal cushion, Monaco kept their momentum going right after the break, with Falcao having a penalty saved by Willy Caballero.

Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic’s then made a blunder gifted Sergio Aguero his first goal, but the game was level only for 3 minutes before Falcao lifted a brilliant chip over Caballero to put Monaco back in front again.

But instead of demoralizing them, the goals conceded seemed to incense City players, driving them to launch some of the impressive attacking football the team had done earlier this season.

Aguero, who fell out of first-team favour recently, volleyed in for City’s equalizer, while defender John Stones slid in to help City regain their lead.

Sane came through for City again with a tap-in to give the Manchester club a two-goal cushion ahead of the second leg.

While any team could not argue the importance of such a healthy advantage, one cannot help but be aware of Monaco’s potence as they netted three away from home, without mentioning a secure away goal advantage.

As the French team would travel to Guingamp this weekend to widen their lead on top of Ligue 1, Manchester City would have a break to rest and regroup as the Manchester derby in the Premier League this weekend will be delayed by United’s match in the League Cup final.

Champions League: Atletico takes commanding first-leg lead

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Atletico Madrid claimed a commanding lead in the first match of their knockout stages encounter against Bayer Leverkusen by winning 4-2 at the BayArena.

The La Liga giants were able to assume the lead little more than quarter of an hour into the game, after Saul Niguez cut inside from the right and curled in Atletico’s first following a counter.

Although denied twice by Bayer keeper Bernd Leno later on, Antoine Griezmann doubled the score from a separate counter, and it was not until after the second half that Bayer mustered a response, twice between two more Atletico goals in the second half.

With a smooth team move culminating in Karim Bellarabi’s goal, Kevin Gameiro scored with a spot‑kick, only for Stefan Savic’s own goal to cut down the deficit again.

But it was evergreen striker Fernando Torres, coming in for Yannick Carrasco, who would end the contest for now with a late header.

As the return leg looms ominously for Leverkusen at the Vicente Calderon two weeks later, Los Rojiblancos holds the better chance for extending their European campaign into the quarter-finals, as they had for the last three seasons.

If Leverkusen were to somehow stop Atletico’s towering superiority, they need a performance far better than this match and also stop the likes of Griezmann once more, who has now became the top scoring player for Atletico in European tournaments with 13 goals, overtaking previous club record holder Luis Aragones’s 12.