Leicester City and AS Roma face off in the first leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final tie at the King Power Stadium.

Leicester City welcome AS Roma to the King Power Stadium for the first leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final tie on Thursday, April 28. For both these sides, the Conference League presents the only opportunity of adding silverware to their kitty this season.

Leicester City come into the encounter without a win in their last three matches. After a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle, the Foxes were held to consecutive draws against Everton and Aston Villa in the Premier League. Brendan Rodgers’ men will thus be eager to return to winning ways against Roma.

Leicester got the better of PSV in the Conference League quarter-finals. The two sides played out a goalless draw in the first leg of their Last-eight tie at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes prevailed in the away leg, defeating PSV 2-1 at the Philips Stadion to book a semi-final spot.

The Foxes are yet to add a European trophy to their cabinet and the Conference League could turn out to be a great stepping stone in their future progress. But they face a roadblock in the form of a well-drilled Roma side managed by Jose Mourinho.

Roma make the trip to England fresh from a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Inter Milan that ended their 12-match unbeaten run in the league. Before the defeat, they had held Napoli to a 1-1 draw in heroic fashion with Stephan El Shaarawy equalising for the ten-man Giallorossi deep into injury time. Mourinho would want his side to bring some of that fight they showed against Roma to Leicester.

In the Conference League quarter-finals, the Italian capital outfit were condemned to a shock 2-1 defeat by Norway side FK Bodo/Glimt in the first leg. Roma replied in fine fashion in the second leg at home, registering a 4-0 victory to qualify for the semi-finals.

Roma are currently fifth in the Serie A with an outside chance of finishing in the top four. Mourinho, along with pushing for a top-four berth, will want to lead the side to a silverware with the Conference League title.

Team News & Tactics

Leicester City

The Foxes will be without midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and left-back Ryan Bertrand. Centre-back Jonny Evans, goalkeeper Danny Ward and midfielder Boubakary Soumare are doubtful for the encounter and will likely miss it.

None of the aforementioned players featured in Leicester’s recent draw against Aston Villa and thus Brendan Rodgers isn’t expected to make a lot of changes to the starting XI. Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy could get a look in.

Kasper Schmeichel will man the goal with Rodgers expected to continue with a 4-3-3 that he has used in Europe this season. A back four of Ricardo Pereira, Caglar Soyuncu, Wesley Fofana and Timothy Castagne is expected to protect the goal with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison forming the three-man midfield.

With Jamie Vardy returning to fitness, Patson Daka, who has been in decent form in Europe this season, could sit out. Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton are expected to start on either flank.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Fofana, Castagne; Maddison, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall; Albrighton, Vardy, Barnes

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Roma

Jose Mourinho will be without the services of midfielder Bryan Cristante and forward Nicolo Zaniolo. The latter, who scored a hat-trick in their second-leg win over FK Bodo/Glimt, could be a big miss on their trip to England.

Leonardo Spinazzola has completed his return to fitness after rupturing his Achilles tendon in last year’s Euro. He has been named on the bench in Roma’s last three league matches but it is unlikely that Mourinho will use him from the start against Leicester. Reports in Italian media have claimed that Spinazzola could be used as a second-half substitute in Roma’s next league fixture against Bologna.

Nevertheless, the Portuguese tactician is expected to field his best XI and continue with a 3-4-2-1. Rui Patricio will continue in goal for the Giallorossi with a back three of Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez.

Rick Karsdorp and Matias Vina will be the two wing-backs with Jordan Vertout and Sergio Oliviera lining up as the double pivot in the centre of the park. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lorenzo Pellegrini will be the two attacking midfielders with Tammy Abraham leading the attack.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Oliveira, Veretout, Vina; Mkhitaryan, Pellegrini; Abraham

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Key Stats

  • Leicester City will be playing in their first-ever European semi-finals when they take the field against Roma on Thursday night.
  • This will be Roma’s third European semi-finals in five seasons. Both the previous semi-finals were against English sides – 2017/18 UCL vs Liverpool and 2020/21 UEL vs Manchester United – and they lost both.
  • This will be the first meeting between the two sides.
  • Tammy Abraham is the joint top-scorer in the Conference League this season with eight strikes.
  • Roma have scored in 20 consecutive away European matches heading into the Leicester encounter.

Player to Watch

James Maddison

The England international has been in great form for the Foxes in Europe this season. He has scored four goals in UEFA competitions for the Leicester City, only second to Patson Daka, who has scored six goals in Europe. Given the quality he possesses, the 25-year-old will be the hosts’ chief creative outlet and pose a goal threat himself. Expect Maddison to dominate proceedings at the King Power Stadium.

Prediction

Leicester City 2-2 Roma

The two sides are evenly matched and managed by two coaches who are quite familiar with each other. Expect a tightly-contested game with both sides getting on the scoresheet. The Hard Tackle predicts an entertaining 2-2 draw, leaving everything to be played for in the second leg in Rome.

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