Claudio Ranieri has welcomed Leicester’s Champions League draw against Sevilla as their debut campaign continues to the knockout stage.
Having stunningly won the Premier League last season and then topped Group G ahead of Porto, FC Copenhagen and Club Brugge, Ranieri acknowledged his side represented a favourable draw for any of the group runners-up.
But having avoided the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to land the team who have won the Europa League for three straight years, he too was happy with the outcome in Nyon on Monday.
“For us it is a tough but very exciting draw against a team who are used to fighting in Europe,” he said of opponents they will face in mid-February. “Whoever we played would have been a tough opponent, but I think all the teams who arrived second will have wanted to play against us and I know that we will be the underdogs once again. Always we are underdogs, every time.
“I know that Sevilla have lifted the Europa League three times in three years – it is unbelievable. Now they are third in the league and have lost only three so far. They are a big, big, big team.
“They are very technical and very good. They are fighting to win the title with Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, so that tells you how good they are.”
Arsenal may have finally topped their Champions League group but their reward was a dubious one – a last-16 tie with German giants Bayern Munich for the third time in four years.
The Gunners are bidding to end a string of six successive last-16 exits from Europe’s top competition. Manchester City, who finished second to Barcelona in their group, have been drawn against Monaco.
Manchester United will play French side St Etienne in the last 32 of the Europa League while Tottenham Hotspur meet Belgian outfit Gent.
Portugal and Real Madrid foward Cristiano Ronaldo was named the world’s best player for a fourth time last night when he won the 2016 Ballon d’Or.