Stern Sevilla test awaits Leicester

Football Champions League : Porto host Italian champs Juventus

Stern Sevilla test awaits Leicester

Embattled Leicester City turn their attentions to the one competition they have had success in during a nightmarish season for the English champions when they visit high-flying Sevilla on Wednesday for their Champions League last 16 first leg.

Europe's elite competition has been a welcome distraction for Claudio Ranieri's side, which has come crashing back down to earth after last year's logic-defying title win but keeps defying the odds in Europe.

Leicester finished top of their group and conceded just one goal in their first five games, and a brief escape is just what they need as their domestic woes show no sign of easing.

A winless start to 2017 in the league has left the club one point and a single place above the drop zone, and in danger of becoming the first team since Manchester City in 1938 to be relegated the season after winning the English championship.

On Saturday they endured an embarrassing exit from the FA Cup at the hands of League One side Millwall despite playing most of the second half with an extra man.

They will get little respite from a transformed Sevilla side, however, which is enjoying its most exciting season in a decade as it chases Real Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga and mounts a serious challenge in the Champions League after winning the Europa League three times in a row.

Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli has brought a new speed and intensity to the Andalusian side's possession play that yielded its biggest ever points total in the first half of a season.

Sevilla lost a number of top players last summer, including losing top scorer Kevin Gameiro and midfielders Grzegorz Krychowiak and Ever Banega.

Yet smart work by sporting director Monchi has helped them shrug off those high profile departures and build a dynamic squad around two former Premier League players, former Stoke City midfielder Steven Nzonzi and playmaker Samir Nasri.

Juve eye win

A potent new attacking formation that has sent Gonzalo Higuain towards another top scorer's award faces the acid test on Wednesday when Juventus take on Porto.

Juventus, beaten 3-1 by Barcelona in the 2015 final, are en route to a record sixth Serie A crown and remain many pundits' favourites to challenge the likes of Real Madrid for the trophy in Cardiff next May.

Massimiliano Allegri's Serie A league leaders head to Porto's Estadio do Dragao as favourites, but aware that they also ended Roma's hopes of even qualifying for the competition in clinical fashion last summer.

Allegri's decision to ditch his tried and trusted 3-5-2 for a more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 has seen Higuain, thanks to support from Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic, pull level with Roma's Edin Dzeko at the top of the Serie A charts on 19 goals so far.

But while the Juventus front line is firing on all cylinders, Porto have reason to be targeting a makeshift Juve defence that could be missing key components in Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini.

Both remain doubtful due to recent injury niggles, meaning either Daniele Rugani or Mehdi Benatia could partner Leonardo Bonucci in central defence.

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