Sevilla's upgraded defense key to Champions League success


5:17 a.m. ET Feb. 21, 2017

MADRID (AP) โ€” Sevilla’s much-improved defense will be vital in its attempt to finally succeed in the Champions League.

The team coached by Jorge Sampaoli has displayed the offensive prowess already expected from his squads, but it’s also starting to show a more balanced setup that will help the Spanish club to take steps toward becoming a top contender in European football.

On a run of three straight games without conceding a goal, Sevilla hosts Leicester in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Sevilla has won the Europa League the last three seasons, and now it is trying to make it past the last 16 in the Champions League for the first time in nearly 60 years.

“We’ll give our lives on Wednesday,” Sampaoli said.

“It’s a decisive match in the history of the club. We can only think about this match, about playing a very high-quality game and earning an advantage going into the return match (on March 14).”

Sevilla has kept a clean sheet in five of its last 10 games in the Spanish league, outscoring opponents 22-10.

In the 13 league games before then, it scored 24 times but conceded 18…

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