Leicester City‘s Champions League adventure continues with a trip to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the two sides’ quarter-final clash this week (7.45pm Wednesday on BT Sport 2).
Diego Simeone’s men begin the tie as hot favourites to progress, which is not at all surprising given the fact that they have reached two Champions League finals in the last three seasons. Atletico have been in excellent form in La Liga since the turn of the year, with their Argentinian boss having restored many of the qualities that have underpinned their impressive achievements in the last few seasons.
The Colchoneros are once again defensively solid, lethal on the counter-attack and very difficult to play against. There is arguably no team in Europe tougher to beat than Atletico in a one-off game, and Leicester will have to be at their very best to have any chance of picking up a positive result on Wednesday. Even then, it may not be enough to defeat a team who have lost only two of their last 20 outings in all competitions.
Leicester, not for the first time, find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they prepare for this last-eight encounter against a side who have been there and done it when it comes to the business end of Europe’s principal continental club competition. Craig Shakespeare has done a terrific job since replacing Claudio Ranieri at the helm, however, and it is worth bearing in mind that the Foxes were widely written off prior to their meeting with Sevilla in the round of 16. Nevertheless, this tie will be an uphill struggle for Leicester, who will have to minimise mistakes and take full advantage of their positive spells if they are to engineer a major upset in the Spanish capital.
Atletico Madrid could have Kevin Gameiro available once more following a groin injury, but Fernando Torres is more likely to start alongside Antoine Griezmann up front. Tiago (knee), Sime Vrsaljko (knee), Nico Gaitan (toe) and Miguel Angel Moya (thigh) all look set to miss out for Simeone’s side, who will almost certainly match Leicester’s 4-4-2 configuration in both legs of the tie.
Atletico are used to sitting deep and ceding possession at this stage of the Champions League, but on this occasion they will probably have to take a more proactive approach against a team whose style of play is very similar to their own.
Leicester captain Wes Morgan looks set to miss out in the Spanish capital, with the Jamaica international having failed to shake off a back injury in time to feature. Papy Mendy (ankle) and Molla Wague (shoulder) will join Morgan on the sidelines, although neither was likely to be part of Shakespeare’s starting XI anyway. The Foxes will stick with their customary 4-4-2 formation, with Shinji Okazaki providing a vital link between striker Jamie Vardy and central midfield duo Danny Drinkwater and Wilfred Ndidi. At the back, Yohan Benalouane will continue alongside Robert Huth in the absence of Morgan.
The last couple of years have shown that writing off Leicester is an extremely dangerous thing to do, and the Foxes certainly have a chance in Madrid this midweek. Nevertheless, it is impossible to escape the fact that Atletico’s squad possesses far more star quality than the Premier League champions’, while they also have a great deal of experience when it comes to knockout Champions League ties. That has to influence how this preview approaches its betting tips for this Champions League match. It is little wonder that Atletico are generally 3/10 shots with the online bookmakers to win this game.
Atletico Madrid’s watertight backline should carry them to victory in this first leg, which is why a home triumph in a match featuring fewer than 2.5 goals in total is such a tempting betting proposition. In the anytime goalscorer market wide man Yannick Carrasco is offered at decent odds.
- We recommend Atletico Madrid to win and fewer than 2.5 goals to be scored in total at 21/10 with Coral or Boylesports.
- Yannick Carrasco to score anytime at 15/8 with Betfred.
- Check all the latest Champions League Outright Winner betting with our odds comparison tables.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.