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March Madness: Can Leicester finish with a second Cinderella ending?

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The 2016/17 season has been far from what Leicester City experienced a year ago, and yet the Foxes still have the opportunity to outdo themselves.

[ MORE: Lukaku reportedly turns down new Everton deal ]

A Premier League title is nice, but what if a bigger trophy was on the table? Perhaps a UEFA Champions League crown?

That became a distinct possibility on Tuesday when Leicester reached the UCL quarterfinals after completing a 3-2 comeback against Sevilla over their two-legged Round of 16 encounter.

It’s true that the Foxes will have to deal with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and others if Craig Shakespeare’s squad is able to complete the unthinkable — again — but the club’s manager is a prime example of exactly why Leicester could do it.

When Claudio Ranieri was sacked several weeks back and Leicester appeared dead-in-the-water, up stepped Shakespeare. The former assistant was just a 53-year-old expected to right the ship after the club appeared on pace to complete the greatest collapse in PL history after winning the league the season prior.

Instead, Shakespeare and co. are unbeaten in three matches since the Birmingham-native took charge of the club, including wins over Liverpool and more recently Sevilla.

It’s a strong possibility that a managerial change was exactly what the Leicester players needed, but it does raise a question.

Why the sudden change in form?

Sinking towards the bottom of the PL is unacceptable for any reigning champion, and although Leicester doesn’t boast the status of a Manchester United or Chelsea, the club did bring back essentially the same squad from a year ago with the exception of N'Golo Kante.

It’s only a small sample size of the Shakespeare era but there has been a noticeable difference in his three matches in charge.

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Jamie Vardy has been more effective in the attack, which is something that couldn’t be said for much of the first half of the season.

Meanwhile, the club’s other key attacking threat, Riyad Mahrez, has been effective throughout the season, particularly in the Champions League. The Algerian has netted four of his eight goals in the UCL, which is tied for eighth in the competition.

While the Foxes attack has enamored onlookers for the past year-and-a-half, one player that has really gone under the radar is goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The former Manchester United shot-stopper’s son has been the definition of stable in the Leicester net, and that was once again apparent on Tuesday.

Schmeichel made a seemingly crucial error by taking down Vitolo in the Leicester penalty area while the Foxes were up a goal and a man, but the 30-year-old immediately made good on his mistake by stopping the subsequent spot kick.

It’s that fighting spirit though that makes the Foxes as exciting as they’ve been, and regardless of which team Leicester draws in the final eight it’s conceivable that this side has at least one more moment of magic left in them in 2016/17.

Man United honor attack victims ahead of Europa League final

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Manchester United’s players and coaching staff held a minute’s silence ahead of training on Tuesday at their Carrington base in Manchester.

Following the terrorist attack in Manchester late on Monday where a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 59 at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, United will not hold a press conference and other media activities on Tuesday ahead of the Europa League final in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Europa League final against Ajax on Wednesday will still go ahead as planned at the Friends Arena in nearby Solna, with UEFA releasing a statement reassuring fans that there was no security threat in the Swedish capital.

“UEFA is shocked by last night’s attack in Manchester. Our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those affected. There is currently no specific intelligence which might suggest that any of the UEFA Europa League final activities in Stockholm may be the target of attacks.

“UEFA has been closely working with local authorities and the Swedish FA for many months and the terrorist risk had been taken into account since the very beginning of the project. Furthermore, a number of additional security measures were implemented following the attacks in Stockholm last April. Due to the tight security arrangements, UEFA urges fans to arrive at the stadium as early as possible, as detailed checks will be made at the entrances, resulting in potential delays in accessing the stadium.”

United released the following statement early on Tuesday morning following the attack, while many of their players and key figures in the soccer world have been sharing their condolences on social media.

Everyone at Manchester United is deeply shocked by last night’s terrible events at the Manchester Arena. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected, including our supporters, club staff and members of our community such as the children from our Manchester United Foundation partner schools who were attending the concert at the Arena. Club staff are ready to help the police and other emergency services in any way that may be required at this challenging time for our city.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.