Much has been said and written about English champions Leicester City this season. They have gone from champs to chumps in less than nine months.
On Wednesday night the Foxes played Spanish side Sevilla in the Champions League last-16 first leg at the Sanchez Pizjuan and lost 2-1.
For much of the first half, the side from Andalucía dominated play, scored a goal and saw a penalty kick saved.
Leicester came out a bit stronger in the second half, but Sevilla doubled their lead through Joaquin Correa, who had earlier seen his spot-kick saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
It looked like Jorge Sampaoli were strolling to victory. However, Leicester were handed a lifeline on 73 minutes, Danny Drinkwater crossed for Jamie Vardy to tap home a potentially priceless away goal.
The game and Vardy’s goal might not only change the complexion of the tie, but it could also kick-start the Foxes campaign at a crucial time.
A potential turning point
Until Vardy’s strike, it looked like it was going to be just another defeat for the Foxes. Although they lost the game, there was a really sense that something had changed for the champions when Vardy had scored.
Despite the defeat, Leicester came away happy with the result. They are now just a goal behind their Spanish opponents, who are not the best travellers in the game. Vardy scoring could have a bigger impact than on the actual result.
The 30-year-old had previously gone nine games without finding the net in all competitions. His last goals came in a hat-trick against Manchester City in a 4-2 win. Vardy’s form was the key to Leicester’s success last season.
Vardy’s form key to turnaround
Leicester’s struggles this season have coincided with Vardy’s downturn in form. The England striker has scored just five times in the Premier League this season, which is certainly down on the 24 goals he scored in the top-flight last season.
Leicester’s whole game plan last season was based on hitting Vardy over the top. Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez was also a big influence. Neither player has come anywhere close to their spectacular form of last season.
This has contributed to the Foxes being 17th in the Premier League table and just a point outside of the relegation zone. Prior to their trip to Seville, the Foxes had failed to score in four of their previous five outings in all competitions.
With Vardy being their main attacking threat, Claudio Ranieri’s side needs him to hit form again. The goal in Spain may well just be the catalyst to the forward regaining his touch in front of goal.
Big game against Liverpool
Leicester face a big game at home against Liverpool on Monday night, a game that are underdogs to win at odds of 9/2 to win.
The odds are understanding considering the Foxes have lost their last five Premier League games and won just one of their last ten in the top-flight. However, the Foxes need to rediscover the spirit of last season to drag themselves away from the relegation zone.
The reality of the situation is that the Foxes could be bottom of the Premier League table by the time they kick-off against Jurgen Klopp’s side. Their relegation rivals 18th place Hull host travel-sick Burnley, while 19th place Crystal Palace host goal-shy Middlesbrough.
Both of those teams have a realistic chance of recording wins. However, it seems unlikely that bottom club Sunderland will record a win at in-form Everton, although they do not have a terrible recent record at Goodison Park.
In all Leicester need to perform more like they did in the second half against Sevilla than they did in the first if they are to have any hope of pulling off a win against the Merseysiders.
Some will say that Leicester have returned to their natural level this season. However, a team does not win a Premier League title without having talent and spirit. That spirit and talent have been missing for much of the season.
Hopefully for the Foxes that the Vardy goal against Sevilla will be the turning point in the season. If not then Claudio Ranieri’s side are in for a very long couple of months in the Premier League.
Can narrow defeat in Sevilla be a catalyst for Leicester season?
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