Sampaoli: Leicester will play like it's the World Cup final

By Iain Strachan 10 March 2017 442
Sampaoli: Leicester will play like it's the World Cup final

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli expects Leicester City to put in a performance worthy of the World Cup final when the teams meet in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Addressing the media, the Argentine attempted not to look beyond the visit of Leganes to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in LaLiga on Saturday, but attention inevitably turned to the second leg of the round-of-16 tie in midweek.

The visitors will take a 2-1 lead with them to the King Power Stadium, where Sampaoli expects the Foxes, who have produced an immediate improvement to beat Liverpool and Hull City after the sacking of title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri and installing of Craig Shakespeare on an interim basis, to pose a stiff test.

"We have a group of analysts who have produced a clear report of what happened in the Ranieri era, and what's happening now with the complete about-turn in morale and how the team is now back to being as dangerous as they were last year," the Sevilla coach said.

"We have modified our plans. Leicester have demonstrated that they will play this game as if it were a World Cup final and we know that by not winning by the margin we deserved in the first match we're going to be under a lot of pressure and that if we don't go for it it'll be an uphill battle."

In LaLiga, Sevilla are in third place, attempting to follow the recent example of Atletico Madrid by breaking the duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the table.

They trail leaders and champions Barca by four points and are three back from Madrid, who also hold a game in hand over their immediate rivals.

"It's always been near impossible to overtake Real Madrid and Barcelona, add to that list Atletico Madrid," Sampaoli said.

"LaLiga is going to be competitive right to the very last kick of a ball, even if it feels very far away. 

"The distance has been marked recently by teams who find winning an easy currency, because it makes it harder for us hopefuls seeing what it costs us to win every match when the top two are winning and pulling out goals like pocket change."

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Iain Strachan