Written by By Maggie Antonelli, CNN
For years, Southampton and Leicester City have represented the underdogs of the English Premier League. Both teams have never won a championship or been on a successful EPL campaign. But all that could be about to change tonight.
After the first-ever tie (1-1) in the Premier League’s history, the two teams meet for the second leg of their semifinals Friday evening at the St. Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, South England.
As if more pressure wasn’t enough for Leicester to shoulder, the team has announced that Premier League celebrations will no longer occur at King Power Stadium. Instead, the team is throwing a public party in their community center. If the team wins the game, the Royals will earn a spot in their first Premier League championship ceremony in nine years.
Of course, Southampton isn’t lacking in pressure either. With a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, the club is under new manager, Marco Silva. Silva, who became the first Portuguese manager to lead a Premier League team, has won 10 out of 11 matches with the club since taking over in May.
CNN’s Hannah Storm covers Leicester City’s ties with Southampton and says match “is the biggest football game in the world right now.”
Southampton’s 31-year-old Chilean defender, Gary Sánchez, is in Italy with Chile, though he still spent time training with his teammates Wednesday. He played nearly 80 minutes of the first leg, along with wide attackers Sofiane Boufal and Charlie Austin. Though he has an immediate commitment to his country for the Confederations Cup tournament in Russia, he is aware of what lies ahead.
“The first goal for us is the result of our training during the week,” said the defender to BBC News. “We worked on fighting at the front, our defensive strength and the partnership of (Eliaquim Mangala and Ryan Bertrand) and their ability to win tackles. We worked on confidence, too, to concentrate on our defensive game. We know that Leicester has excellent (defenders), especially (Ben) Chilwell and (Mamadou) Sakho, but we have to know we have the quality to compete with them.”
CNN Style talks to Tim Cook and Florence Welch about the first match in the Premier League semifinals.
CNN’s Hannah Storm looks ahead to Leicester City’s match with Southampton.