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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Griezmann could end Leicester's fairytale run

Lack of away goal may be killer for Foxes in Champions League hunt

Antoine Griezmann (right) celebrates with Atletico Madrid teammate Fernando Torres
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Champions League quarter-final second leg
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Saturday

Leicester have already produced one fantastic comeback to knock Seville out of the Champions League but repeating the trick against Atletico Madrid may be a step too far at the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes were content with last week's 1-0 quarter-final first-leg defeat in Madrid even though bookmakers reacted by making Atletico as short as 1-10 to book a spot in the semi-finals.

"They've got it wrong before and let's hope they have got it wrong again," was Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare's reaction to the dismissive quotes from bookmakers but the odds reflect the magnitude of the task facing the Premier League champions.

Jamie Vardy's first-leg away goal in Seville was a huge moment but against Atletico they didn't manage a shot on target never mind a goal that could have turned the tide in favour of the Foxes.

Leicester cannot be too aggressive too early in case they concede but at some stage Shakespeare's side will have to come out and that's when Antoine Griezmann is fancied to do serious damage.

Griezmann was the difference last week, scoring the penalty he had won, and throughout the 90 minutes the Frenchman showed himself to be a world-class talent operating just off the front man.

Leicester's defence struggled to cope and Shakespeare quickly attempted to shut down the space between the lines by ontroducing midfielder Andy King at half-time in place of Shinji Okazaki.

Given that Leicester are trailing it would be surprising if they are that negative once again but as the gaps appear Griezmann is likely to make a major impact.

Griezmann, voted the best player at Euro 2016, has scored 15 goals in 30 La Liga appearances this season and was rested for Saturday's 3-0 stroll over Osasuna so should be fresh to cause havoc.

That made it seven clean sheets in nine games for the well-drilled Atletico defence and Barcelona (twice) are the only side to have beaten Diego Simeone's side in their last 22 matches.

They are also seasoned Champions League performers with two appearances in the final in the last three years, while Atletico have progressed on each of the last 16 occasions they won the first leg at home in a European competition.

Leicester have won five home matches out of five under Shakespeare and the last three have come with clean sheets, although Seville missed a penalty and Stoke and Sunderland don't possess anywhere near the kind of quality that will be on show from the visitors.

A clean sheet will be crucial for Leicester but with Rob Huth suspended and Wes Morgan being rushed back to fitness this could be the end of their Champions League fairytale.

A Griezmann first goalscorer
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Team news
Wes Morgan should be available but Rob Huth is suspended and Islam Slimani is a major doubt. Papy Mendy remains sidelined.

Atletico Madrid
Kevin Gameiro is available. Sime Vrsaljko, Tiago and Augusto Fernadez are not in the 20-man squad.

Key stat
Atletico Madrid have scored in 11 of their last 12 away matches.

Given Leicester are trailing it would be surprising if they were that negative again but as the gaps appear Griezmann is likely to make a major impact
E.W. Terms
Sky bet