Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli was upset by Leicester City’s decision to sack manager Claudio Ranieri following the first Champions League encounter between the teams, he said on Monday.

Leicester lost 2-1 at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in the first leg of the last 16 tie three weeks ago and Ranieri was sacked following their return to England.

Leicester have rediscovered form under Ranieri’s replacement Craig Shakespeare, his former assistant, but Sampaoli is dismayed he will not be sharing the touchline with the Italian on Tuesday.

“I found it very, very surprising,” Sampaoli told his pre-game press conference at the King Power Stadium.

“When you look at what Claudio achieved at this club and in this city, he basically changed the course of history for this team.

“So it’s a little painful for me to think about what has happened to Claudio. He won the title in probably the toughest competition in the world, but it might have soured the memory a little bit.”

Since Ranieri’s departure, Leicester have produced back-to-back 3-1 wins over Liverpool and Hull City, easing their fears of relegation from the Premier League.

Though outplayed in the first leg, Leicester snatched a precious away goal through Jamie Vardy and Sampaoli believes the spirit that carried them to the league title last season has since returned.

“The Leicester City you see currently, the fantastic performance where they dominated the game against Liverpool, and against Hull, we’re seeing the Leicester that won the league title,” he said.

“I don’t think they’ve changed structurally or tactically too much. It still looks like the side that won the league with Claudio.

“What’s changed is emotionally. The morale seems to have changed. They seem a lot more decisive now. They’re brave again, they’re going for it.

“The side that came to Sanchez Pizjuan, there was a bit more confusion. Now it’s back to the team that won the league season.

“They’re hugely motivated and it will be a difficult game.”