Players must not be distracted by Atlético Madrid tie, says Leicester manager

Premier League relegation battle ‘the sole focus’ for now, says Craig Shakespeare

Leicester City’s Wes Morgan celebrates with Kasper Schmeichel after the goalkeeper’s penalty save against Sevilla in the Champions League last-16 game this week. Photograph:  Darren Staples/Reuters

Leicester City’s Wes Morgan celebrates with Kasper Schmeichel after the goalkeeper’s penalty save against Sevilla in the Champions League last-16 game this week. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

 

Craig Shakespeare has urged his Leicester players not to be distracted from their Premier League relegation battle after they were drawn to face last year’s runners-up, Atlético Madrid, in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Premier League champions, who beat Sevilla in the last 16 thanks to a 2-0 victory in the second leg at the King Power Stadium, have twice been drawn against Atlético in the past: in the first round of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1961 and the Uefa Cup first round in 1997, losing both ties.

Leicester will continue their remarkable run by travelling to the Spanish capital for the first leg on Wednesday, April 12th, with the second match taking place the following week.

But as Leicester prepare to head to the London Stadium on Saturday to face West Ham with only three points separating them from Hull City in the final relegation spot, Shakespeare has warned his squad to focus on the more immediate task of retaining their top-flight status.

“Atlético Madrid are a very good team with some fantastic individuals with experience in the competition, but we’ll be ready to give everything to progress,” he said. “It will be a brilliant occasion for our supporters and for everyone at the club, but before the players can begin to think about these games, we have Premier League matches to come that are of huge significance to our season. They will be our sole focus.

“The talk straight after the Sevilla game was to improve the away record,” he said. “I haven’t banned talk of the Champions League, but after the game the focus, what I wanted, has been on West Ham. We’re in a professional industry and the players know it’s my job and the job of the staff to make sure the focus is there. To a man, that’s what they have concentrated on. We want to move away from the relegation zone because it is tight down there, but we can’t look too far ahead. We’re solely focused on each game as it comes.”

Respect

The Atlético defender Diego Godín said that all the teams in the last eight would have been difficult, but added that he has a lot of respect for Leicester and their achievements over the past 18 months.

“We know that Leicester have a lot of quality and they showed that by eliminating Sevilla, who are doing well in the league here,” said the Uruguayan. “In the Champions League they have been playing a little bit like they did in the Premier League last season.

“They are a tough side, very compact and very strong defensively. Going forward, they have very fast players who take their chances, and that makes them very difficult to play against.”

Real Madrid’s pairing with Bayern Munich will see the German team’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti, return to the Santiago Bernabéu for the first time since his departure. He said: “Matches against Real are obviously special for me and it’ll be exciting for me to go back to Madrid.

“By the quarter-final stage all the teams are well-known, there are no secrets any more. Real have a fantastic team, fantastic players and a fantastic coach. It’ll be a difficult game, but we’re confident and we have a chance to go through. Little things can be the difference.”

Monaco’s reward for beating Manchester City in the last 16 is a tie against Borussia Dortmund, with the French league leaders aiming to repeat their run to the final in 2004 under Didier Deschamps.

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