Leicester City came in to last night’s match at The King Power full of hope that their fairytale would continue. The hosts did find an extra level within themselves, but not until the second half of the second leg of their Champions League tie against Atlético. By that point, the writing was on the wall for the Premier League champions.
Leicester rely on the uncontrollables
The English side adopted a happy-go-lucky ‘we’ve done it before, why can’t we do it again’ attitude, which ultimately holds little sway in football. The taxi driver who drove me to the stadium insisted that what happened against Sevilla (Sampaoli's men missed two penalties and hit the woodwork three times) was not good luck in Leicester’s favour, but destiny. Leicester relied on chance, on fate. Yet as we saw in the first half, Atlético leave little to chance.
In the early stages of the match, Los Rojiblancos showed all of their tactical nuance; at times they dictated play, but they also played on the counter; their defence played high up the pitch, and then deep. Meanwhile, Leicester were less sophisticated, two passes followed by a long ball. At this stage of the competition, that isn’t enough.
Foxes flurry comes too late
Two ex-Premier League players told me that very few people within the game wanted Leicester to progress. They would have considered a Leicester-shaped miracle to be a slap in the face to the hard work that goes in to forming more complete teams, like Atlético.
Saúl’s goal placed Diego Simeone’s side firmly in the driving seat, but Leicester rallied. They belatedly stepped up to the stage, ready to burst in to song. But the surge came too late. The fat lady was already up there, microphone in hand, in full voice.