To say the last 18 months or so at Leicester City have been eventful might just be the biggest understatement ever written. They very quickly and very sourly turned from everyone’s second-favourite team to the nation’s most disliked group of sportsmen.
“I hope they go down” was the cry from plenty of football fans in the country following the hugely controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri last month.
But something had to be done to stop the rot, and it looks as though the Foxes are on the up once again under interim manager, Craig Shakespeare.
Whatever your thoughts are about the reigning Premier League champions, it’s time to put them all to one side and collectively get behind Leicester City once more – because they could just make even more history.
La Liga outfit Sevilla travel to the King Power Stadium with a 2-1 advantage over their English opponents, and will be feeling quietly confident about breezing past a side currently sitting in 15th place in the Premier League.
They’ll have been preparing reports and analysing performances from the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez for months.
But all of that can go out of the window now, because plenty has changed in Leicester’s last two games.
You can sense the confidence in the air in the East Midlands once again. And when Jorge Sampaoli’s men step out of the tunnel on Tuesday evening, they will have experienced nothing quite like it in their playing careers.
The home fans reckon they can do this. The home players have the ability to do this.
They’re fresh, too, and that’s vital.
While Sevilla were frustrated by Leganes in Saturday’s La Liga clash, Shakespeare’s men had the weekend off. Their heads are clear and they know the task at hand.
A 1-0 win would do it.
How many times did we see the Foxes grind out results when it mattered most? How many times did we see them fight for 1-0 victories? In the league they managed it seven times.
Even if Sevilla score a goal, it’s far from over. See, Leicester can mix things up, too.
How many times did we see Ranieri’s men win by two goals or more last year? The answer is nine.
Imagine, just for a second, Leicester City progressing to the quarter finals of this year’s Champions League – think what that would do for English football, and how many fans would feel pleasure from witnessing it.
Where would it end? Could they pull off an upset and force their way into the semis? Would any of the sides still in the competition really fancy their chances against a side who told the most unlikely and remarkable football story of all time last campaign? Would Lionel Messi be up for a 180 minute-long physical battle with Wes Morgan?
Could they win the whole competition?
Plenty of questions could be asked. Were the board right to sack Ranieri when they did? There are arguments both for and against that decision. But nothing anyone says will change things now, it’s about moving forward.
Yes, there are still plenty of neutrals that think Leicester deserve to go down. And we’re not asking you to get behind them domestically.
But this is the Champions League we’re talking about.
A competition including Europe’s elite clubs – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich – and yet, here are Leicester City, holding their own.
On Tuesday night, Craig Shakespeare shouldn’t have the backing of the country, nor should the board. In truth, the players probably shouldn’t either.
But the club as a whole? The fans? A chance to continue this incredible journey?
We’re on board. Are you?
Let us know what you want to see from Tuesday night’s crucial clash with Sevilla in the comments section below.
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