For all Leicester City's improvements in recent weeks, there remains issues within Craig Shakespeare’s squad – most notably in defence. As thrilling as the Premier League champions can be going forward, the thought of their current defence facing up to Antoine Griezmann & Co. in Madrid on Wednesday is a somewhat scary proposition.
Though half of the back four that lined up against Everton are unlikely to start against Atletico in their Champions League quarter-final, there remains a genuine concern as to how they will deal with Diego Simeone’s side should the Liga giants find top gear against them.
Everton possess their own attacking threats that would cause the majority of the Premier League if not Europe’s defences problems, but the ease in which they were able to put four goals past Kasper Schmeichel will have alarmed Shakespeare so close to the club’s biggest ever match.
Kevin Mirallas – a poor man’s Griezmann if you like – ran them ragged at times, with his bustling run in the opening 30 seconds leaving both Daniel Amartey and Yohan Benalouane for dead before Tom Davies added the finishing touches.
The Foxes’s inability to mark from set-pieces was also shown up by Everton’s third and fourth goals, with Benalouane again at fault as he failed to pick up Phil Jagielka from either of Mirallas’s corners. The defending at times harked back to the bad old days of the first half of the season, and Shakespeare must ensure there is no complacency on show from his backline following a run that has seen them move clear of relegation trouble.
Though Danny Simpson and Christian Fuchs will return in the full-back positions, Wes Morgan’s back injury means Robert Huth is again likely to be partnered by Benalouane – a player who did not even start a match during Leicester’s historic title win of 2015-16. He will now line up at the Vicente Calderon faced with the task of keeping Griezmann, Yannick Carrasco and Fernando Torres at bay. If Atletico needed someone to target, Benalouane’s showing at Goodison highlighted just how much of a liability he could potentially be.
Wilfred Ndidi’s return in midfield will likely see him take on the role of stopping the Atletico forwards from getting at both Benalouane and Huth, but if the Foxes are to head back to the King Power Stadium with the tie still in the balance then the Nigerian may have to muster a performance even N’Golo Kante would be proud of.
That is not to say Leicester have no chance of progression – the six wins that lead into defeat on Merseyside suggested they are getting back to somewhere close to their best. But they must tighten up – and quickly – if they are going to give Griezmann any real headaches.