In Review

Shakespeare guides Leicester on to the biggest stage of all

The Foxes boss is taking charge of only his fourth game as a manager but it could be a famous night for his side

170314_shakespeare.jpg

New Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare faces his first match since being officially appointed as manager of the Premier League champions when the Foxes play Sevilla in the Champions League this evening. 

Trailing the Spanish side by one goal in their last 16 tie, a 1-0 victory would be enough to send Leicester into the last eight of the competition – joining Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, who have already booked their places.

"The match might not prove as memorable as last campaign's Premier League parade over Everton, or as pivotal as the 3-1 win over fellow relegation candidate Hull City last time out, but there's no denying it's the most glamorous fixture in the Foxes' 133-year history," says ESPN.

The stage and the drama are fit for a man by the name of Shakespeare, but the story of Craig's rise to prominence, not to mention Leicester's, might have been regarded as far-fetched by the Bard.

Craig Shakespeare began his coaching career in 1999 as West Brom's football in the community officer, says James Gheerbrant of The Times. "Taking his caretaker spells at West Brom and Leicester City into account, Shakespeare has only ever managed for three football matches. Game four, his first as an appointed manager, is a Champions League last-16, second-leg match against Jorge Sampaoli's Seville, quite possibly the biggest game in Leicester's history."

The Leicester boss is also only the fifth Englishman to manage a club in the Champions League since its inception in 1992. He will be following in the footsteps of Bobby Robson, Ray Harford, Harry Redknapp and former Valencia boss Gary Neville.

It could be a famous night in Leicester however, with the Foxes looking hungry again since the sudden departure of Claudio Ranieri last month.

"Having put three past Liverpool and Hull, Leicester will certainly fancy their chances of scoring," says ESPN. "However, the focus, at least to begin with, must be on keeping Sevilla out. Wes Morgan and Robert Huth could be in for a long night and getting to half-time without conceding should probably be the first goal."

Can they do it? There are precedents with another famous European run, says The Guardian.

"The last time an English club won the Champions League, back in 2012, the manager was a promoted number two who had been appointed in March on an interim basis until the end of the season," recalls the paper.

"Roberto Di Matteo had taken over from Andre Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge and the Italian's first European assignment was a last-16 tie at home, where Chelsea needed to win (by two clear goals) against Napoli after losing the first leg away. The circumstances, in that sense, are remarkably similar. Whether Shakespeare is capable of reprising Di Matteo's rather miraculous run to the final – Chelsea rode their luck at times – is another matter. Leicester couldn't... could they?"

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