Surely this is where Leicester’s luck runs out. Right? Leicester's round of 16 tie against Sevilla was supposed to be the limit for this team, yet here they are, headed back to Spain to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals (that still sounds crazy). With Manager Craig Shakespeare reverting to last year’s title-winning game-plan, Leicester had won six in a row prior to this weekend’s 4-2 loss to Everton. While there was clearly one eye on their match against Atleti (Wilfred Ndidi was rested and Jamie Vardy taken off early), the Foxes sorely missed Wes Morgan, who will not be back from injury in time to play in Spain. Instead, Yohan Benalouane, who struggled against Everton on Sunday will step in again. Atletico Madrid meanwhile, came back to draw 1-1 with Real at the Bernabeu over the weekend through an 85th minute Antoine Griezmann goal. It was a goal that came out of nowhere, from the exact sort of surprising move that could unravel a defense missing their captain. Atleti are back into their familiar third place in La Liga now and will measure this season on whether they’re able to make it to their third UCL final in four years.
Last season’s Champions League proved to be heartbreak again for Atletico as they were runners-up to rivals Real Madrid for the second time in three years. The momentum should continue for Atleti, however, as manager Diego Simeone has stayed put. Also committing themselves to the Vicente Calderon is star French forward Antoine Greizmann, who will be joined in attack with the formidable options of Fernando Torres, Kevin Gamiero, Saul, Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan, among others. Combine that with a stern defense and Atletico Madrid are no longer relative surprise finalists, but one of the favorites. We’ll be treated to a matchup against Bayern, but with PSV Eindhoven and Rostov rounding out the group, Atleti should make it out comfortably.
Last year’s improbable season gives Leicester a chance to prove themselves at the highest possible level (sorry, World Cup). While it would be foolish to discount their chances, competing in the Champions League in addition to defending their Premier League title and playing in two domestic cups is a tall order for any club - let alone one that was built a year ago for one purpose: avoiding relegation. The Foxes managed to hold onto the talent they need to get out of the group stage, the question is whether they have to squad depth to compete on multiple fronts.
Was named player of the tournament at Euro 2016, scoring six goals and adding two assists in seven games.
The rock at the heart of Atleti's defense has played over 180 matches for Los Rojiblancos.