Legia Warsaw v Leicester City
Thursday 30 September, 17:45
Live on BT Sport 2
Poles keeping their best for Europe
It has been a strange campaign so far for Polish giants Legia Warsaw. While they have struggled domestically, claiming just nine points from seven league games so far, they have caught the eye with some excellent results in the Europa League.
Slavia Prague dumped out Leicester City and Rangers in the UEL’s knockout phase last season, but Legia beat them in this season’s qualifiers, sending the Czech side tumbling down to the Conference League. In their opening game of this group stage, the Wojskowi snatched a dramatic 1-0 win against Spartak Moscow in the Russian capital, as a 90th-minute strike from Lirim Kastrati secured all three points.
Legia are used to winning. They are the Polish champions, and are chasing a third straight league title, having claimed 15 Ekstraklasa titles in their illustrious history. That said, their league form is currently a bit patchy, and they lost 3-2 at home to Rakow Czestochowa at the weekend.
Former Leicester winger Bartosz Kapustka won’t be able to face his old teammates because of a knee injury, while former Southampton and Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc is a familiar opponent for the Foxes.
Faltering Foxes struggling at the back
Although Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers bemoaned a failure to take chances following the weekend’s 2-2 draw with Burnley, it was at the other end of the pitch where the concerns truly lie. Leicester’s only clean sheets of the campaign have been in a 1-0 success against Wolves in the Premier League and in a 2-0 success at lower-league Millwall in the League Cup.
There are obvious reasons for this defensive decline. Centre-back Caglar Soyuncu’s confidence was shattered by a dreadful EURO 2020 campaign with Turkey, as he struggled individually and the team failed to live up to their tag of dark horses. Wesley Fofana, who was so impressive for the Foxes last term, was seriously injured against Villarreal in pre-season, and veteran Jonny Evans has been in and out with injury.
Leicester have won just two of their six Premier League matches so far, and their defensive demons surfaced on Matchday One of the UEL against Napoli, as they blew a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2. Wilfrid Ndidi was sent off late on in that Napoli game, and will therefore miss the trip to Warsaw because of suspension. James Maddison could return to the starting XI, but given his lack of form, that isn’t guaranteed. Ligue 1 title winner Boubakary Soumare will probably partner Youri Tielemans in central midfield.
Foxes are rightful, yet unexciting favourites
Leicester do have the greater technical quality, and they are the fair favourites in the Match Odds market at 1.664/6, but I can’t get excited about backing them at that price. The Foxes weren’t great on the road in this competition last term, winning just one of their four away games, and they are arguably in worse shape now than they were then. I’ll look elsewhere for my primary bet.
Legia can strike a blow
The bet that stands out to me is backing Both Teams To Score at 1.845/6. Legia put four goals past Slavia Prague across two legs, and they have scored in seven of their last eight competitive home games. Given Leicester’s defensive deficiencies, and the absence of Ndidi in midfield, I’ll be surprised if the visitors can keep a clean sheet here.
Iheanacho to stake a claim?
Kelechi Iheanacho had a fine campaign last time out (12 PL goals and three in the UEL), but it’s always going to be tough to edge out Jamie Vardy (the veteran is still one of the Premier League’s best strikers) and the arrival of Patson Daka has added to the level of competition.
Iheanacho scored the winner against Manchester City in the Community Shield, and he netted in the recent victory at Millwall. If he starts, he’s worth considering in the To Score market at 11/10.