Sevilla look to seize Champions League opportunity against Leicester

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli has urged Leicester City to forget their shock Premier League title triumph last season and focus on subduing the very real threat of relegation just one year on.

"Today we are not talking about the team that won the league so brilliantly, we're talking about one that is not doing well and is fighting relegation". Ranieri got so much from the team previous year with so little but now he is struggling, the past doesn't matter, even when you have done something as miraculous as he did.

By contrast, Sevilla are flying in third in La Liga behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Sampaoli's excellent season with Sevilla has led to him being mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Luis Enrique at FC Barcelona and progress in Europe would certainly add to his credibility should the Camp Nou come calling.

And the Argentine also highlighted a 4-2 win over Manchester City in December as a warning that Leicester are still capable of raising their game on the big occasion. "I think with the confidence we have with the boys at training ground, we are going to go there and play very well".

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick in that victory over City, but the England global hasn't netted in nine games since.

The coach acknowledged Sevilla have spoken to him about extending his contract beyond 2018 but said he would not distract himself with thoughts about his future before Sevilla's first Champions League knock-out tie in six years.

Leicester's disastrous form continued with an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to third tier Millwall in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Yet smart work by sporting director Monchi has helped them shrug off those high profile departures and build a dynamic squad around two former Premier League players, former Stoke City midfielder Steven Nzonzi and playmaker Samir Nasri.

He will be looking for his side, who will be cheered on by 2,500 travelling fans, to return to their former rock-solid defence and hope Jamie Vardy can recapture the spark which last season made him an England global.

"We are going there to do our best", the Nigeria global told Leicester Citys official website.

"For a few people, we are the underdog, but that doesn't have to be bad for us".

  • Carolyn Briggs