This week sees Manchester City and Leicester aim to avoid the embarrassing fate that awaited Arsenal on their return to European football.
Manchester City vs AS Monaco – Tuesday
Pep Guardiola has a strong squad to choose from after resting several key players in Saturday’s 0-0 FA Cup draw with Huddersfield. Vincent Kompany and Gabriel Jesus are the only absentees for this tie.
Monaco are the top scorers from any of Europe’s top five leagues. City’s defence will need to be solid with no errors or face a uphill battle in the second leg. Luckily for them, Radamel Falcao’s goal scoring record on British soil is poor so need to make home advantage count tonight.
With the second leg occurring after the FA Cup quarter finals, City will need a heavy win here so can focus on the quarter final, should they see off Huddersfield in the fifth round replay. They will therefore be able to rest players at the Principality in the return leg without worrying over whether they will progress on two fronts or not.
Tonight is the first meeting between these sides so is difficult to predict because both are unbeaten in their last five across all competitions. A draw here wouldn’t be a surprise to many.
Prediction: Manchester City 1-1 Monaco
Result: Manchester City 5-3 Monaco
Sevilla vs Leicester – Wednesday
Leicester head to Sevilla off the back of a nightmare domestic run so far in 2017. Could the return of Champions League football be just what they need to revive their season?
The Foxes flew through the group stages with five straight wins before a mauling in Porto prior to the winter break. Since the Porto trip, Leicester have been shambolic with a defeat at Millwall in the FA Cup this weekend, further compounding their misery.
Sevilla on the other hand have won eight of their last 12 games in all competitions and will surely be the favourites to progress. Their record in Europe is one of the best this decade and have won three consecutive Europa League titles on the bounce.
This match is make or break for Claudio Ranieri, despite having the board’s backing because their backing can run out if results don’t change. Being the underdogs will be a welcome delight for the visitors after their antics over recent seasons when labelled underdogs.
Realistically, a strong performance here is vital after resting nearly the full first team regulars on Saturday. Taking a draw or one goal deflict back to the King Power Stadium will be like a win given their form but they need to start scoring fast.
Prediction: Sevilla 2-1 Leicester
Result: Sevilla 2-1 Leicester