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Preview: Legia Warsaw vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups
30/09/2021 13:46:12

Returning to Europa League action after a difficult fortnight in the league, Leicester City travel to meet Group C leaders Legia Warsaw on Thursday (5:45PM, 30 Sept).

Having picked up just a point from their last three Premier League games, the Foxes will be keen to post a first win of their continental campaign, while their hosts have also struggled domestically but claimed maximum points on opening night.

We say: Legia Warsaw 1-2 Leicester City

Legia's positive start to the campaign may come to a swift end, as they clearly have defensive issues at the moment and meet a Leicester side with significant squad depth.

Even if ageless striker Jamie Vardy takes a well deserved rest, the visitors have numerous attacking options that can take the game away from the home side with a flash of inspiration.

Match preview

As has often been the case during the last decade, Jamie Vardy was at the centre of everything for Leicester on Saturday, as the FA Cup winners were held by Burnley at the King Power Stadium.

After inadvertently heading the visitors in front early in the first half, the veteran striker rectified his mistake by netting at the right end either side of the break, to help his side salvage a 2-2 draw.

Failing to win a match in which they dominated possession and had 22 shots at goal will certainly have frustrated boss Brendan Rodgers, who previously saw his team lose against Manchester City and Brighton, leaving them winless in the Premier League throughout this month.

Though the Foxes did manage to overcome second-tier Millwall in the EFL Cup last week, they are therefore in need of a morale boost from victory in Europe this Thursday, as they journey to the Polish capital.

Leicester opened their Europa League campaign by drawing 2-2 at home to Serie A leaders Napoli, with Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes giving the East Midlands outfit a two-goal lead before the visitors clawed their way back to draw level and Wilfred Ndidi was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

They now take on the tough task of playing the Polish champions in their own back yard, before meeting Spartak Moscow early next month. Having exited last term's tournament at the first knockout stage - losing 2-0 on aggregate to Slavia Prague - any plans Rodgers has for surpassing that feat could rely on their fate in these next two games.

As they got their Group C challenge off to a positive start, meanwhile, Legia will also fancy themselves to progress to the next phase by the end of the year.

The Legionisci became the first winners of this season's group stage earlier this month, when a stoppage-time goal from Kosovo international Lirim Kastrati earned them a 1-0 victory at Spartak, despite having been under fire for most of the match.

Ekstraklasa champions in 2020-21 for the second year in a row - plus the fifth time in six seasons and a record-breaking 15th time all told - Legia finally made it through to this stage of the Europa League after four straight eliminations in the competition's qualifying phase, including an agonising playoff defeat to Qarabag last year.

Having already put three points on the board in a particularly competitive group, they now welcome Leicester to Stadion Wojska Polskiego amid a run of three losses from their last four league games.

Though Czeslaw Michniewicz's men previously scraped past the Foxes' conquerors last term, Slavia Prague, in the playoffs and also progressed in the Polish Cup, their form during the past few weeks has left much to be desired - conceding three at home to Rakow on Saturday being their latest blow.

Also losing 11 of their last 17 matches in UEFA competition (qualifiers aside), they remain underdogs on Thursday despite home advantage and a second successive European win would come against the odds.

Team News

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers will prepare for the trip to Warsaw without Wilfred Ndidi, as his midfield lynchpin must serve a suspension due to being sent off against Napoli.

Long-term absentees James Justin and Wesley Fofana are also left at home, but the Foxes should otherwise have a full hand from which to choose.

Therefore, Timothy Castagne and James Maddison are set for recalls, while up front, Patson Daka and Ayoze Perez could also be drafted into the starting XI.

Legia, meanwhile, have ex-Leicester man Bartosz Kapustka out for a considerable period of time with a knee injury sustained when celebrating a goal during Champions League qualifying.

Furthermore, the hosts have concerns over former Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc (back), as well as Mattias Johansson and Brazilian winger Luquinhas (thigh) ahead of the game. Johansson has just returned to training after injury and was not risked at the weekend, while veteran stopper Boruc should again be replaced by his deputy Cezary Miszta.

Azerbaijan international Mahir Emreli, who has notched nine goals so far this season, is expected to lead the line up front and could be supported by Rafa Lopes and Ernest Muci.

Legia Warsaw possible starting lineup:

Miszta; Jedrzejczyk, Wieteska, Nawrocki, Mladenovic; Josue, Slisz, Martins; Lopes, Muci; Emreli

Leicester City possible starting lineup:

Schmeichel; Castagne, Evans, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Soumare, Tielemans; Perez, Maddison, Barnes; Daka

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