Will Leicester reach the semi-final of the Champions League?

Leicester City’s Premier League triumph in the 2015-16 season must rank as one of football’s greatest shocks. What Claudio Ranieri, who is no longer in charge at Leicester, and his players achieved may even rank as the greatest triumph in all sports.

A thorough search would likely yield nothing if it were designed to find a single person back in August 2015 who firmly believed the Foxes would end up winning the EPL title at the end of the campaign. Fast forward to April 17th, 2017 and Leicester’s players are preparing to face Spain’s Atletico Madrid in the return leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

To completely write-off Leicester’s chances of reaching the semi-final might be a decision fans of the beautiful game would take at their own peril. In fact, Atletico arrive in Leicester carrying a slender 1-0 lead courtesy of a penalty-kick from the club’s top scorer Antoine Griezmann. Leicester held on for what can be referred to as a decent result and might have even escaped with a draw were not for that penalty-kick. A 2-0 win for the Foxes carries them to the semi-final while a 1-0 lead after full-time will force extra-time and potentially a penalty shoot-out.

It is remarkable how Leicester have managed to not only make the Round of 16 but also eliminate Spanish side Sevilla. Therefore, to rule out Leicester would be a mistake because the Foxes have proven the critics wrong time and again. Leicester do have the ability to create and score with Riyad Mahrez still on the squad. Mahrez was one of the main architects behind the EPL triumph and though his numbers have fallen considerably during the 2016-17, he is still capable of conjuring a moment of magic. Leicester also have Jamie Vardy in attack, though like Mahrez his stats show a steep decline in scoring this season.

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Realistically, Atletico pose a much bigger obstacle than compatriots Sevilla because the Madrid side possesses one of the best defensive lines not just in Spain but the world. Atletico’s two goalkeepers, the defenders and the team as a whole have combined to present the club with the best defensive record in La liga.

The likes of Diego Godin and Filipe Luis have the necessary experience and know-how to deal with the best strikers in the world. Diego Simeone’s men participated in two of the last three Champions League finals and therefore are accustomed to dealing with the best in the world.

This will be Leicester’s first attempt at reaching the semi-final but perhaps that will be enough to not only motivate the players but also make the Foxes play with nothing to lose. Will the Spanish side become Leicester’s latest victim, or will Simeone’s men put an end to another improbably run by the English team?

Was Filipe Luis really that bad in his debut season at Chelsea?

Chelsea defender Filipe Luis looks to be on his way back to Atletico Madrid this summer, with manager Jose Mourinho unsatisfied with the Brazilian’s debut campaign at Stamford Bridge. Due to the form of Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back, Luis spent the season on the periphery with the Blues, but was somewhat impressive when given game time, so is he really worth selling?

Luis, 29, set Chelsea back around £15M last summer, and joined with the reputation of being a combative, hard-working fullback who would expertly nullify the threat of the opposition. However, game time alluded him all through the campaign, with the Brazilian ending up making nine Premier League starts in 2014/15. He featured more often in the Champions League and domestic cups, and was on the losing team just once in the games he’d starting in all competitions.

The former Atletico man read the game very well in the Chelsea defence, and had the typical resilience needed to win the ball back from tricky wingers down the left-hand side. Luis put in many good performances, but he never managed to force his way into the starting lineup on a regular basis, which is why Mourinho is selling him back to his old club.

Filipe Luis’ return to the Vicente Calderon will mean Chelsea are in need of a left-back as cover for the new season. Azpilicueta is the Londoners’ first-choice in the backline, and now has no cover should he succumb to injury. It’s thought manager Jose Mourinho will used the Brazilian’s money  to sign another full-back, with West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell having interested the Chelsea boss earlier this summer.

Mourinho made a public statement revealing Atletico’a interest in their former defender, and admitted he would sell the left-back if the Spaniards came in with a fair bid. “If (Atletico Madrid) want him back then they have to pay and we have to discuss the offer. (If he leaves) then we have to react and we have to go in the market (and find a replacement).”

The new Premier League season is only weeks away, so it won’t be easy for Chelsea to find a player good enough, but the Blues will have been planning options when speculation rose earlier in the summer. Nevertheless, Filipe Luis had his moments for Chelsea, averaging a tackle or interception every 16 minutes in the Premier League. The Blues are getting back the fee they paid for him, but did he really warrant a sale?