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Ndidi returns as Atletico Madrid hosts Leicester City

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Leicester City’s Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Stoke City at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 1, 2017. Ben STANSALL / AFP

Super Eagles’ star, Wilfred Ndidi returns to the heart of Leicester City’s midfield with the instruction to stop Atletico Madrid’s talisman, Antoine Griezmann from wreaking havoc against the English champions in today’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinals first leg game.

Leicester City are the only English club remaining in the competition and many pundits believe this tie would be the furthest they will go in their maiden campaign in Europe’s elite club championship. But Craig Shakespeare’s men are no respecter of pedigree.

Ndidi and his mates are returning to Spain for a second time this season having dispatched another La Liga top team, Sevilla in the previous stage of the competition.

The Foxes arrive in Spain yesterday to test their dream against one of Europe’s top four teams of the last couple of seasons.Being in the last eight of the world’s biggest club competition is a story already well told. Some are wont to write off Leicester, but their stand is contradicted by the reality that has already preceded it. The team has already achieved the impossible and it is now up to Ndidi and his mates to continue the dream. That, they have promised to do.

Both teams met previously in Europe in 1961 and in 1997 with Atletico Madrid winning on the two occasions, but pundits believe this is a different proposition.

Shakespeare and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who is expected to wear the armband in Wes Morgan’s absence this night, faced the world’s media yesterday before the team trained on the Calderón pitch ahead of today’s game.

Looking forward to an ‘interesting’ game Shakespeare said his team has no fear for the opponents. He confirmed that Captain Wes Morgan has been ruled out by injury, saying, “There’s no chance [he’ll play]. He’s here and he travelled with the team, but he’ll take no part in the game.”

On Ndidi, Shakespeare said the Super Eagles star is expected to do his duty in the middle of the park, adding that this is the type of game the former Nath Boys star thrives in.

The midfielder was rested for Sunday’s trip to Everton as a precaution due to a tight groin, but took part in the full training session yesterday evening at the Calderon.

“Wilfred [Ndidi] is fine. He trained partly yesterday and he’ll take part in the whole session today. Hopefully he’ll come through that okay, which is what we’re expecting.”

He added: “We’ll have to show them the respect they deserve. Their style is well documented. In terms of their team, they press high. “For us, it’s about what we do tomorrow (today) night. We’re aware of Atlético’s strengths but we’re also aware of our strengths.”

“In terms of life experiences, you use them as you go along. Sometimes, you’ll have new experiences of which this season in the Champions League is for us.
“We’ve enjoyed it, but make no mistake, we’re there to compete. These players deserve the opportunity to play here and we aim to keep that going tomorrow night.”


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