Leicester City of England attacker, Kelechi Iheanacho will aim to continue his amazing burst of form and goals with The Foxes in this season’s UEFA Europa League when they tango Peter Olayinka’s Slavia Prague of Czech Republic in the round of 32, sportsdayonline.com reports.
Iheanacho romped home a remarkable run of three goals and three assists in two matches in the group stage of the second-tier European club’s competition, and the out-of-favour former Manchester City youngster will hope to reenact that feat when Leicester travel to face Prague in Czech Republic for the first leg.
It was on October 23 that Iheanacho first scored one and assisted two goals in Leicester’s 3-0 Europa League win against Zorya of Ukraine, as the Super Eagles star made the best of a rare start for The Foxes and ensured he fully rewarded his manager’s trust in him with a top display.
Iheanacho made the assists for James Maddison and Harvey Barnes goals before scoring to cap up his man of the match display, buoyed by his 50th professional career goal, which included 21 for Man City, 21 for Leicester and eight for the Super Eagles.
The statistics also read 50 goals and20 assists in 80 games for the product of Taye Football Academy of Umuahia, who then made further marks with a brace in that kept Leicester on course to reach the Europa League knock-out stages after a crushing 4-0 win over Sporting Braga of Portugal.
Iheanacho’s double on November 2 helped The Foxes take control of Group G, top of the log and three points clear of Braga, after a third straight win in Europe, as the UAE 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup gold medalist and most valuable player spearheaded the hosts’ attack, and he will hope for more heroics against Olayinka’s Prague.
The same night will see Joe Aribo and Leon Aderemi Balogun join Glasgow Rangers will play Royal Antwerp, with Steven Gerrard’s side having won Group D ahead of Benfica, who will next take on Bukayo Saka, Folarin Balogun and Miguel Azeez’s Arsenal of England.
Dele Alli and Tottenham Hotspur have been drawn against Wolfsberger of Austria in the last 32 of the Europa League, in which Jose Mourinho’s side will first play away in February, having won Group J.
On the other hand, with a return to Shanghai Shenhua of China in January looming, Odion Jude Ighalo may not be with Manchester United when they head to Real Sociedad of Spain for the first leg of their last 32 tie, after The Red Devils were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League last week.
Meanwhile, last season’s Champions League losing finalists, Paris Saint-Germain of France will face Barcelona of Spain in the last 16 of Europe’s elite clubs’ competition, while Liverpool were paired with RB Leipzig in Monday’s draw.
The French champions from Paris will relish another chance to avenge their ‘Remontada’ defeat by The Catalan giants in 2017, as PSG had beaten Barca 4-0 in the French capital but crashed to a 6-1 defeat at Camp Nou, in a pulsating game orchestrated by their current Brazilian ace, Neymar.
Ironically, Neymar, who won the 2015 UCL title with Barca, then joined PSG in a world record move weeks later but has yet to taste similar European success with Ligue 1’s dominant force, after which the Ligue 1 side came closest last season when they were beaten 1-0 in the final by Bayern Munich of Germany.
With the first legs due to be played in February, PSG seem hopeful Neymar will have recovered in time from an ankle injury which forced him to be stretchered off the pitch in his side’s 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat to Lyon on Sunday.
PSG disclosed at the start of this week that Neymar’s prognosis was reassuring, while the 28-year-old said on Instagram that his injury “could have been worse” following a rough tackle from Lyon midfielder Thiago Mendes which left him screaming in agony.
Barca may not be as intimidating opponents as in the past after a troubled start to the season influenced by boardroom chaos and Lionel Messi’s attempt to leave the club in the summer, after the Argentine ace blushes on Sunday with the only goal in a home win over lowly Levante.
The Catalan’s domestic woes continue, though, as they remain nine points behind La Liga shock leaders, Real Sociedad, while UCL reigning champions, Bayern play SS Lazio of Italy, who are in the knockout phase for the first time in over two decades.
Bayern’s sports director, Hasan Salihamidzic said: “They are a very difficult opponent, we saw them in the group against Dortmund. It is always difficult against the Italian teams. But it is always nice to go to Rome.”