Leicester City will be aiming to pick up their second win of the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League when they play hosts to Spartak Moscow in a Group C clash this week.

Matchday four of the group stages of the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League will go down this Thursday, and Premier League club Leicester City will be in action at the King Power Stadium, where they take on Russian giants Spartak Moscow in Group C.

Leicester made a woeful start to their European campaign this term, being held to a 2-2 draw by Napoli on matchday one before succumbing to a shock 1-0 loss away to Legia Warsaw. A thrilling 4-3 win last time out against Spartak Moscow kept their qualification hopes alive as Brendan Rodgers’ side sit third in the group, two points off of Legia at the top and level with Napoli in second.

Another win here would increase their chances of making it through the next round, although the confidence within the camp might not be very high following a dismal showing in a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal. However, in Spartak Moscow, the Foxes have the perfect opposition to put up a strong display and bounce back to winning ways.

Even though the Russians ran Leicester close last time out, they are winless in their previous four games in all competitions, a run that includes a 7-1 hammering at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg while their latest clash ended in 1-1 draw against FC Rostov. Rooted to the bottom of Group C with three points, Rui Vitoria’s side could, however, put themselves in contention to progress with a win at the King Power Stadium.

Team News & Tactics

Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers under some pressure after recent results (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Brendan Rodgers under some pressure after recent results (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Leicester City continue to be plagued with roster issues as Wesley Fofana and Marc Albrighton remain sidelined. At the same time, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and James Justin are also likely to miss out with a sickness bug. Ricardo Pereira has recovered from a knock and is in contention along with Wilfred Ndidi, but the pair may be eased back into action.

Ayoze Perez is back to full fitness after missing the last couple of matches due to illness. There will be changes made to the team that started at the weekend, with one of them likely to come in defence where summer signing Jannik Vestergaard could come in for Jonny Evans. Daniel Amartey and Caglar Soyuncu will be his partners in the three-man defence shielding Kasper Schmeichel in goal.

Boubakary Soumare could be given a breather by Brendan Rodgers, with Hamza Choudhury likely to replace him in the middle of the park. He will be charged with further protecting the backline while his partner, Youri Tielemans, will aim to dictate play in the attacking half and help Leicester stay on the front foot.

Timothy Castagne and Luke Thomas ought to be the two wing-backs who will be charged with providing the width going forward for the hosts. With Maddison a doubt for the game, the returning Perez ought to slot in as the No. 10, from where he will look to link-up play with the two forwards, Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho. Ademola Lookman will also be an option for an attacking berth.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel; Amartey, Vestergaard, Soyuncu; Castagne, Tielemans, Choudhury, Thomas; Perez; Iheanacho, Daka

Spartak Moscow

The visitors also have a few important players unavailable for selection as Ezequiel Ponce, Nail Umyarov, Pavel Maslov and George Melkadze are set to miss out with injuries. Manager Rui Vitoria will field his strongest XI possible as he looks to end Spartak Moscow’s four-game winless streak and have a chance of progressing to the next phase.

Like Leicester, Spartak will also set out with a three-man backline comprising Maximiliano Caufriez, Samuel Gigot and Georgi Dzhikiya, who will protect Aleksandr Maksimenko in goal. Ayrton Lucas and Victor Moses will be the wing-backs on the left and right sides, respectively, with the latter likely to be keen on making an impression on his return to England.

Roman Zobnin and Ruslan Litvinov will form the midfield double-pivot for the Russian giants and look to keep a lid on the output of Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez. The creativity and chance-creation going forward will come from the duo of Jordan Larsson and Quincy Promes, who will look to support the striker and provide a goal threat themselves.

With Ponce sidelined, Aleksandr Sobolev ought to get the nod as the lone striker for Spartak on Thursday night.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Maksimenko; Caufriez, Gigot, Dzhikiya; Moses, Litvinov, Zobnin, Lucas; Promes, Sobolev, Promes

Key Stats

  • Leicester City have never hosted a Russian opposition in any competition. Their 4-3 win against Spartak in the reverse fixture was the first time they faced a side from Russia in the club’s history.
  • After winning on their first four trips to England in European competition, Spartak Moscow are winless in their last six visits (D1 L5), most recently a 90-7 defeat to Liverpool in December 2017.
  • After returning to European competition in 2016/17, Leicester City won seven of their first eight home matches across the Champions League and Europa League (D1). Since then, they have failed to win either of their two such games, losing to Slavia Prague and drawing to Napoli.
  • Spartak Moscow defeated Napoli on the road on Matchday two. They are looking to win consecutive away games in a major European competition for the first time since a three-game run between December 2010 and March 2011.
  • Patson Daka netted four times in the reverse fixture between these sides, becoming the first Leicester City player to do so in any game since Derek Hines vs Aston Villa in November 1958. He also became the club’s joint-top goalscorer in European competition in that game, moving level with Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes and Riyad Mahrez.

Player to Watch

Youri Tielemans

Leicester City will need Tielemans to be at his best on Thursday (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester City will need Tielemans to be at his best on Thursday (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

There may be some question marks lingering over his future amid reports of him turning down a new contract offer. But there is no two ways about the importance that he holds in this Leicester City side. The 24-year-old has contributed with three goals and assists apiece for the Foxes in all competitions this season.

Tielemans’ ability to create openings with piercing passes and an eye for a goal make him a key figure in the Foxes’ midfield unit. In addition to that, the Belgian international also offers a lot of industry, helping his midfield partner in the defensive side of things, making him even more valuable. With James Maddison likely to miss out on Thursday, Tielemans will need to step up and provide a bigger creative influence for the Foxes.


Leicester City 2-2 Spartak Moscow

Both teams are in a bit of a slump currently. Leicester were lucky to beat Spartak Moscow last time out after going two goals down. And their loss to Arsenal highlighted the flaws that Brendan Rodgers’ side are struggling to cope with.

At the same time, the visiting team have shipped in 14 goals in their previous four games and remain porous at the back. Even though they will be without Ezequiel Ponce, Aleksandr Sobolev can be a more than capable deputy, having bagged a double in the reverse fixture. It promises to be another game with goals in it, and The Hard Tackle predicts this one to end in a high-scoring draw.

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