(Reuters) - Leicester City goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler has warned his team that they must avoid defeat in Sevilla in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Wednesday to have any hope of avoiding a premature exit from the Champions League.
Leicester finished top of their European group and conceded just one goal in their first five games, but are struggling in the Premier League, where they sit a point and a place above the relegation zone.
Sevilla on the other hand are third in La Liga, behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, and also boast a better European pedigree that Leicester, having won the Europa League for the past three years in a row.
“It’s a big game,” Zieler told Leicester’s website (www.lcfc.com).
”We did really well in the group stages. It’s a very tough game ahead of us. We’re one of only 16 teams left in Europe and Sevilla have done fantastic over the last couple of years.
“The first leg is very important. Let’s put it this way -- you shouldn’t lose. If we can get a draw, even a win, it would be fantastic for the second leg.”
In addition to their Premier League woes, Leicester were knocked out of the FA Cup by third-tier Millwall on Saturday, and Zieler said he hoped playing in the Champions League would help his teammates get their minds off their domestic struggles.
“It feels a long time ago since the last Champions League game because we’ve had the FA Cup and a lot of Premier League games,” added the 28-year-old, who was signed from Germany’s Hannover 96 in July last year.
”Maybe also for our minds at this stage of the season, it’s a bit of a change, playing in the Champions League.
“If we get a good result, hopefully we can take that into the Premier League. We all know that we need to do better in the Premier League, so maybe at this time of the season, it’s a good change to play in the Champions League.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty