Leicester City play hosts to PSV Eindhoven at the King Power Stadium tonight in another big European night for Brendan Rodgers and his side.
Former England striker Michael Owen believes that the Foxes will come out on top in their Europa Conference League clash but has warned them that they face a hard test.
City are into the quarter-finals of a European competition for just the second time in their history as they look to take another step towards May’s final in Albania. Rodgers’ side overcame a tough test in Ligue 1 side Rennes in the last round and have been warned of the quality that PSV possesses.
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A win for City will see them take an advantage into next week’s second leg. The team will travel to the Netherlands on Thursday April 14 as they look to seal their place in the semi-final.
Against Rennes, City gained a 2-0 advantage from the home leg. It turned out to be crucial in the aggregate score, while Owen is backing City to come out on top, he believes that it will be a bit closer.
“This is another even game. Leicester look like they are really trying to win this tournament and PSV are as hard as a side as they could have faced, ”he told BetVictor.
“PSV are only a few points behind a very good Ajax side in the league, so this won’t be easy. I think Leicester will get the win though, 2-1.
Should they make it through the two-legged tie over the next two weeks, City already know who they could face in the semi-final of the competition. The winners of City’s tie will take on the winners of the two-legged affair between AS Roma and Bodo / Glimt.
How to watch the game
The match at the King Power Stadium will kick off at 8pm BST.
It is being broadcast live on BT Sport 3 in the UK. Their coverage gets under way at 7.15pm.
Highlights will be uploaded to BT Sport’s YouTube channel after the match.
LeicestershireLive’s City correspondent Jordan Blackwell will be at the King Power Stadium to bring you all the build-up, live updates, reaction and analysis with his Foxes live blog.
Replacing Jamie Vardy
Brendan Rodgers has been told to play Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho together against PSV Eindhoven.
Main striker Jamie Vardy has been ruled out of the clash by an ongoing knee problem that is taking longer to heal than expected. Rodgers confirmed at his pre-match press conference that Vardy is running fine, but feels pain in his knee when striking the ball.
That means Rodgers has a selection dilemma ahead of Thursday’s first leg quarter-final tie at the King Power Stadium (kick-off 8pm), but City fans are confident they have the answer. This is what some of them have been saying on social media …
SAFox195 : We must play Kele and Daka together upfront. Neither of them are affective alone and I am sure there will be a huge difference playing both of them.
Chubbzlcfc : With no Vardy we need to play both Kels and Daka up top and just go for it.
Jp62 : Play a 5-3-2 maybe, but play Kels and Daka together.
FrankWorthy : Vardy is as willing and deadly as ever, but he can’t go on forever. The guy never usually gets injured so it’s worrying that he is picking up injuries now and taking a long time to recover. Let’s hope we get at least one more season out of him.
Doug Morson : Got to except he is going to be a bit player at best now. Have to sign a top quality striker in summer. Kelechi okay as back up, Daka nowhere near Prem quality.
jezsmith1959 : This cements the fact we need a strong back up for Vardy. Daka isn’t quite ready and Iheanacho is a bit hit and miss. Vards isn’t getting any younger and injuries take longer to heal.
Bluefox: Whatever the issue is with all these injuries (and it seems they’re trying to address it) I hope it’s resolved before next season. We have no chance competing if we never get a full team out. I agree we need 2 up top. Neither Daka or Nacho are lone strikers.
sixtiesfox: I tend to agree with the 2 up top notion and I do favor a 3-4-1-2 formation as I think it suits most players, Barnes excepted.
Road users are being warned to expect delays tonight as 1,500 PSV fans make their way to King Power Stadium on foot. Disruption is expected on city roads from around 6pm.
Leicester City will host the Dutch Eredivisie side in the first leg of the quarter-final which kicks off at 8pm. A series of rolling road closures have been planned to ensure fans can get to the match safely.
A ‘multi-agency’ police operation will be underway throughout the evening. That means those traveling through the city this evening should plan their journeys accordingly.
It is expected that the closures will impact traffic on the inner ring road around the Southgates underpass in the city center from around 6pm. Motorists are advised to avoid the area is possible.
City highways director Martin Fletcher said: “We’ll be supporting the policing operation on match-day and we’re advising people to allow extra time for their journey. Whether you’re on your way home from work, or you’re on your way to the match, please expect some disruption to your journey and set off in good time.
“Peacock Lane and the Southgates slip road towards Newarke Street will be closed from 6pm for around half an hour, and we’re expecting the rolling road closures to have a particular impact on the inner ring road around Southgates underpass and its slip roads from about 6.15pm to 6.30pm, with delays likely around the Swan Bridge area at about 7pm. My advice would be to avoid these areas at these times if you are able to. “
Jordan Blackwell’s predicted line-up
There will be an enforced change to the Leicester City side that takes on PSV Eindhoven – but it may be the only one Brendan Rodgers makes.
City do not have Papy Mendy for their tie with the Dutch title-chasers, the defensive midfielder ineligible for European games after he was left out of the European squad. He had been the man Rodgers had turned to following Wilfred Ndidi’s season-ending knee injury but the City boss now has to come up with a different solution.
There looks to be three leading contenders for the role. As midfielders with defensive capabilities, both Boubakary Soumare and Hamza Choudhury could be called upon, but Youri Tielemans could also drop back into the deeper midfield role.
The Belgian showed his defensive awareness in the draw with Manchester United and if he drops back that would allow James Maddison to move inside with Marc Albrighton then returning to the right flank.
Rodgers has previously stressed the importance of pressing high up the pitch in Mendy’s absence, helping to protect the defense by keeping them at arm’s length. Maddison and Albrighton’s work in that area has been praised by the manager.
Elsewhere, it feels likely that Rodgers will stick with the same team that earned the point at Old Trafford, with the manager and players believing their performance deserved more. That would mean Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans retaining their spots at center-back, with the duo, recently back from long injuries, likely to get their breaks when City host Crystal Palace on Sunday.
James Justin and Timothy Castagne could continue at full-back, while homegrown pair Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Harvey Barnes are expected to keep their spots. Kelechi Iheanacho, after his goalscoring outing against United, is favorite to win the battle for the starting striker spot, ahead of Patson Daka.
Predicted City line-up (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Justin, Fofana, Evans, Chestnuts; Tielemans; Albrighton, Maddison, Dewsbury-Hall, Barnes; Iheanacho.
Brendan Rodgers knows it is a big deal for the fans, who will pack out a sold-out King Power Stadium on Thursday night. He has called on those supporters to help give City an advantage going into the second leg.
“We don’t have a rich history in European football, so to be in a European quarter-final of any competition is deemed a real occasion,” Rodgers said at his press conference. “The supporters have been brilliant here, so they will be behind the team, creating a special atmosphere, and we will need that. We want to play with that tempo and that intensity in the game and the supporters can be a really big help for that.
“It’s great that the stadium’s full. It should be, it’s a good game against a really good team. We hope to have a good advantage coming out of the first leg. “
City do have a few players in their squad who have experience of this sort of occasion though. Kasper Schmeichel and Marc Albrighton were in the City team that played Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final five years ago, while Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Youri Tielemans, and Ricardo Pereira have all played in European last eight clashes for previous sides. For the younger players in the team, it will be a brand-new experience that will help them in the future.
“It’s something that some of those players have had before,” Rodgers said. “For others, it will be a learning experience. Year on year, for us to be at this level, whether it’s domestic cup competition or European experiences, that bodes well for the players’ development.
“It’s a game I’m really excited for to see how we cope with that. These experiences are always good and if you can win and pick up trophies, it can elevate your mindset.
“A lot of the young players have won something. The experienced players are sharing those experiences as well. We’ll go and embrace it, and hopefully we can show that desire to do well on the field. “
PSV situation ‘could be better’ ahead of Leicester City, reveals Mario Gotze
Former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich point guard Mario Gotze is looking forward to his first visit to the King Power Stadium.
Gotze will be part of the Dutch side’s traveling squad. He joined the club in June 2020 after his second spell at Dortmund.
Gotze, now 29, burst onto the scene in Germany as a teenager and in 2010, German Football Association’s then technical director Matthias Sammer described the midfielder as “one of the best talents Germany has ever had.” Despite not reaching the heights excepted of him during his career, he has still won five Bundesliga titles, five German Cups, a UEFA Supercup, a FIFA Club World Cup and of course, the World Cup after his goal di lui in extra time against Argentina went down in history.
This season, Gotze has enjoyed plenty of football having made 44 appearances, scoring 11 goals and providing nine assists. He’s also keen to transfer his wisdom to young talents like Noni Madueke and Cody Gakpo as PSV chase glory in the Conference League.
He told the Mail: “We have a good squad. We are in a good situation, even though it could be better. If our young players ask me something, I will give them advice for sure but I prefer them to learn from what I am doing, rather than what I tell them.
“In the end they have to experience things themselves to really learn from them. Hopefully by watching me they can see a certain way of doing things on and off the pitch, and they can absorb it for themselves.
“I’ve not played at Leicester before so that will be nice. I like the pitches, the stadiums in England. I’ve played at Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham, even the new stadium.”
What is your score prediction for Leicester vs PSV? Have your say in the comments section …
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