European Pedigree Aplenty – A Look At City's Europa League Opponents
A strikingly strong pool, the Foxes will be expecting stern tests in all six group-stage matches across the next four months as they bid to write a new line into the Club's history during its sixth campaign in European football. Following Friday's announcement, LCFC.com profiles each Group C outfit...
Former Roma, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti is in charge in Naples.
Two-time Italian champions Napoli were the first side drawn out the hat in Leicester's group, pitting the Foxes up against a side, managed by Luciano Spalletti, with real European pedigree. Regular entrants in the UEFA Champions League, Gli Azzurri are also former winners of the UEFA Cup in 1989.
One of the goalscorers in that final success over VfB Stuttgart offers a window into Napoli's standing in the game – the one and only Diego Maradona. With a 54,726-capacity stadium now named in the Argentine's honour, Naples also offers one of the most vibrant away days on the continent.
With the goals of Lorenzo Insigne and Hirving Lozano pushing them on, Napoli narrowly missed out on a top four finish in Serie A last term, eventually being pipped by Juventus, at the end of a season which included wins over Roma, Juve, AC Milan and Lazio.
Like the Foxes, Napoli competed in last term's Europa League too, winning a group which included Real Sociedad, AZ Alkmaar and HNK Rijeka. Their European venture ended in disappointing circumstances, however, as Granada secured a 3-2 aggregate victory in the Round of 32.
Attacking ability is provided by Jordan Larsson, the son of Henrik Larsson, who played for Celtic, Manchester United and Barcelona.
Spartak Moskva, who have won the Russian title a record 22 times, are also in Group C with Napoli and Leicester. After missing out on a 23rd title to Zenit St. Petersburg last time out, Benfica manager Rui Vitória - a two-time winner of Portugal's Primeira Liga - has been recruited for the 2021/22 campaign.
Football fanatics will recall several occasions in the past when Spartak have come close to glory, missing out to Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the European Cup in 1981, before Marseille denied them a place in the final in 1991. Inter Milan were the victors in the semi-finals of the 1997/98 UEFA Cup too.
While last season saw no silverware head to the magnificent Otkritie Arena in the capital, one high moment was a 2-1 win over city rivals Dynamo in March, while Aleksandr Sobolev and Jordan Larsson - the son of Celtic legend Henrik - both netted 15 goals apiece for the 13-time Russian Cup winners.
With Spartak's last full European campaign coming in 2018/19, there will be much excitement among the Russian club's passionate fanbase for this campaign's Europa League journey. Their record against English opposition includes nine wins, although the last was a 4-1 success over Arsenal in 2000/01.
The supporters of Legia Warszawa provide a constant soundtrack to all matches at Stadion Wojska Polskiego - also known as Polish Army Stadium.
Legia Warszawa's potential to be a difficult opponent is proven by the fact they defeated last season's quarter-finalists Slavia Praha in the play-offs to earn the right to join Napoli, Leicester and Sparta in Group C. Managed by Czesław Michniewicz, the Warsaw outfit lifted the Ekstraklasa title in 2020/21.
The 1969/70 European Cup semi-finalists have participated in some form of continental football in every season since 2007/08 but were denied a place in this season's Champions League in the play-offs by Dinamo Zagreb. In the Europa League, the Round of 32 has been the limit, losing to Ajax in 2015 and 2017.
Legia's attack was spearheaded last season by Czech Republic international Tomáš Pekhart, who netted 24 times in all competitions, as the club added a 15th league title to their collection, finishing five points clear of Raków Częstochowa in second. They ended the campaign with a 15-game unbeaten run too.
Stadion Wojska Polskiego, with a capacity of 31,800, has been their home since 1930 and was partly reconstructed between 2008 and 2011. Just like Stadio Diego Armando Maradona and Otkrytie Bank Arena, it's a ground steeped in European heritage and provides a raucous atmosphere on game nights.
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