Fernando Torres has warned Atletico Madrid to respect Leicester ’s “great team”.
The Foxes are 11th in the Premier League after a tough title defence, but surprised La Liga outfit Sevilla in the previous round of the Champions League to reach the quarter-finals.
Former Liverpool and Chelsea striker Torres, who has seven goals for Atletico this season, said before Wednesday’s first leg here in Spain: “Too many teams have underestimated Leicester – and we are not going to be one of them.
“Leicester did not win the Premier League because they were lucky. They are not the last English team left in the competition because they are lucky.
“Everything they have achieved is because they are a great team who have worked hard – all their success is deserved. Others can use the word favourites but nobody here will be. We don’t consider ourselves favourites – we are looking ahead to two very tough games against the champions of England.”
City overturned a 2-1 first leg deficit in the return leg against Sevilla, to set up this quarter-final.
Atletico were Champions League runners-up last season and also in 2014, Torres, 33, added: “What we do have is experience.
“We are used to playing at this stage of the competition and I hope that we can use that to our advantage. They are not going to be easy games. Hopefully our experience will give us the edge.”
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Craig Shakespeare and Kasper Schmeichel speak ahead of Atletico Madrid clash
After reaching the final twice in the last three years only to lose in heartbreaking fashion to bitter neighbours Real, Atletico have extra incentive to finally lift the trophy.
In their final season at the old Vicente Calderon, before moving to a swish new home across the capital, the hosts have a steely determination to finally prevail.
But Leicester believe their own lack of scar tissue and expectations can help them defy the odds once more.
They thrive on being underdogs as they vividly showed last season pulling off one of the greatest sporting triumphs to lift the Premier League title and make a mockery of odds of 5,000-1.
Keeper Kasper Schmeichel, who saved penalties in both legs against Sevilla, has been the Foxes’ stand-out performer this season.
He, like many of City’s squad, has had to overcome rejection and work his way up the leagues. And now he and Leicester’s stars are determined to make the most of their opportunity to potentially reach the last four.
Former Manchester City and Notts County keeper Schmeichel, 30, reflected: “You can’t help be inspired.
“When you look at the DNA of our team, the type of characters that we have and the journeys that everyone has been on, through lower-league rejections, these are the kind of nights you play for.
“When I was in League Two, watching Champions League on TV, these were the nights I was working for to make sure I got there. The big pressure games like this – this is what you live for, what you play for.”
To reach the last four, Leicester must beat the club that has ended both their previous forays into Europe — most recently in 1997, when boss Martin O’Neill insinuated City might have been victim of match-fixing after complaining bitterly about the referee.
Schmeichel added: “Leicester’s European history is not exactly extensive, so we are aware of the previous games against Atletico and are obviously hoping for a better outcome.”
The Foxes will be without skipper Wes Morgan, so Schmeichel will wear the armband.
Centre-back Morgan will be a huge loss as replacement Yohan Benalouane was badly shown up in Sunday’s 4-2 loss at Everton to end a six-game winning streak under Craig Shakespeare.
But Morgan has still travelled with the squad and will be in the away dressing room.
They won’t need much motivating – but neither will Atletico.