It's all up to Leicester now
Rejuvenated Leicester can write another chapter of their fairy tale by beating Sevilla
- Sevilla lead 2-1 from first leg
Claudio Ranieri was right about at least one thing during his Leicester City downfall.
Amid waging a hysterical war on the Foxes' dietary habits, he had claimed that their trip to Sevilla three weeks ago had the potential to be "the turning point" in their season.
"Something inside could change," the genial Italian forecast.
Barely 24 hours after the Foxes had slumped away from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, outplayed and outclassed despite a flattering scoreline in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter, Ranieri found himself ruthlessly deposed.
Football's populous decried the move, claiming the 65-year-old had been harshly mistreated by those he had elevated to champions.
With a campaign teetering on the brink of collapse both on the home front as well as in Europe, however, the change was a necessary evil.
In the nine months since the EPL title took the most unlikely of detours to the King Power Stadium, Ranieri had devolved from a coach that nurtured his players and offered incentives of pizzas in return for clean sheets to a butter-flinging demagogue.
His notorious "Tinkerman" reputation returned with an obsessive need to continually chop and change a side whose winning formula had been fashioned on making minimal adjustments.
On varying levels, Leicester had also lost sight of their own identity, with players gifted BMW sports cars worth over £100,000 (S$172,000) by their owners last summer.
Going back to basics was imperative for all parties, with or without Ranieri at the helm.
Installing his former assistant Craig Shakespeare as the ex-Chelsea boss' successor until the end of the season is a step in the right direction.
Shakespeare has proven his worth by steering the Foxes away from the relegation zone with victories over Liverpool and Hull City in their previous two league games.
Jamie Vardy has recommenced the celebrations which appeared to have been curtailed since last May.
Other stellar cast members, notably Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater, have finally, and miraculously emerged from their season-long absence.
Autonomy reigned supreme the last time a fallen EPL champion took a precious away goal into the return leg of their own last-16 tie, as the current ones will tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
But Leicester's band of brothers are a far cry from the egotism of Chelsea's former dressing room diktat.
Shakespeare has traversed every step of that journey with them, rather than being simply another figurehead that was parachuted in at semi-regular intervals.
Feedback has been a two-way system, with the players canvassed for their thoughts on where it all went wrong for Ranieri. The answer would have been incredibly short and simple.
Little has changed in the personnel that won the title last season and Shakespeare has stayed true to those hallmarks with a near-identical line-up to the ones that pulled off that 5000-1 heist, snaring the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City along the way.
If they continue their revival under Shakespeare, Sevilla could become their latest scalp.
Simplicity remains key, as it was under Ranieri and Nigel Pearson before him.
It was those exact traits which culminated in the greatest footballing story ever told.
History favours the Andalusian side, who have suffered only three defeats from their 15 away ties at the knock-out stage of their successive Europa League triumphs in the past three seasons.
Leicester's rejuvenated side and the raucousness of the King Power Stadium will beg to differ.
Successive results have also impacted upon Jorge Sampaoli's hopes of staging a left-field La Liga title challenge, dampened by back-to-back draws with Alaves and Leganes.
He forewarned that a repeat of the latter would seal their fate in the Champions League.
Instinct, the Argentinian claimed, was the reason for Sevilla's recent downturn in results.
Leicester, conversely, have rediscovered theirs.
Another chapter in this most remarkable of fairy tales could now be written in Europe.
Once again, destiny lies in their own hands.
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