It seems like almost every year we’re treated to a Premier League versus LaLiga clash in the Champions League Round of 16. Admittedly It tends to be either Arsenal or Manchester City against Barcelona but this year threw up one of the rare ‘new’ fixtures as Leicester City, fresh after their shock Premier League victory, have been paired with Europa League conquerors Sevilla for a place in the quarter finals.
I’m sure, on both sides, they’ll be quite happy with the draw. For Leicester they avoided the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. While all those would have been ‘dream’ ties in terms of pitting yourself against the elite in world football, it would almost certainly end their Champions League involvement.
At Sevilla it was a similar feeling. They avoided Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Monaco plus they couldn’t be drawn against Atletico Madrid or Barcelona either. Leicester was the best option available and, in theory, it could be one of the ties of the round if the reigning Premier League champions can maintain their European form.
Over the past six months Leicester have been adopted by a lot of Spanish football fans in the wake of their surprise title win. It’s perhaps what still sets the Premier League apart from LaLiga in terms of long-term unpredictability as you couldn’t envisage, say Osasuna, upsetting the odds and walking away with the league title. There are mitigating circumstances to that of course, such as Leicester spending nearly £50m over two seasons, something a side finishing outside the top six couldn’t do in Spain.
However there’s a similarity between the two sides because Sevilla have aspirations of following Leicester’s lead and breaking the big three’s stranglehold on LaLiga. Jorge Sampaoli’s men remain in the thick of the title race and even though they aren’t considered favourites, or even second favourites, no one is going to rule them out at this stage.