Leicester v Racing 92 preview: Team news, kick-off time, line-ups and stats for the European Champions Cup semi-final
Leicester Tigers will look to reach their first European Cup final since 2009 when they meet French side Racing 92 at Welford Road on Sunday: 15:15 kick-off
The Tigers went out in the group stage of last year’s inaugural Champions Cup
Racing have never before made it to the last four
Two-time champions Leicester Tigers will be dreaming of making a first final since 2009 when they face Dan Carter’s Racing 92 on Sunday.
Back-to-back winners in 2001 and 2002, Leicester have emerged from a barren run in Europe over the last few seasons to return to a familiar stage in Europe for Tigers supporters, and they’ve been treated to some special rugby along the way.
In team news, Leicester have announced an unchanged team as Richard Cockerill sends out the same 23 players who lined up for last weekend’s league win at Northampton Saints.
After Sam Harrison made his 100th club appearance in the win at Franklin’s Gardens, this weekend it is the turn of second row Graham Kitchener to reach that mark, while Logovi’i Mulipola is also in line for his 100th appearance after being included among the replacements.
Ben Youngs, who made his 50th European Cup appearance in the quarter-final win over Stade Français at Welford Road, partners Freddie Burns at half-back.
Meanwhile, after several changes ahead of last weekend’s Top 14 trip to Toulouse, Racing have reverted to their strongest side for the trip to Nottingham.
Racing’s backline is unchanged from that semi-final win over Toulon with Dan Carter fit enough to start at number ten alongside Maxime Machenaud in the half-backs.
The two changes are in the front row, with experienced France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski missing out through injury as Virgile Lacombe gets the start over Chat.
Ben Tameifuna is the other change at tighthead prop, with Luc Ducalcon named amongst the replacements.
Sunday’s semi-final will be the first time the clubs have met in European competition
Leicester have progressed from five of their previous six tournament semi-final ties; their last win at this stage was against Cardiff Blues in 2009 following a place kick competition
This will be Racing 92’s first appearance in a European semi-final
Only once in their last 20 fixtures against Top 14 opposition have Leicester won back-to-back matches (v Montpellier in 2013/14)
On the last five occasions that Racing have played Premiership opposition, they have conceded 12 points or fewer (W3, D1, L1); four of these games were against Northampton Saints
Leicester are the only side in this season’s Champions Cup to achieve a success rate of 90 percent or better at both the scrum (91 percent) and lineout (92 percent)
Racing have conceded the fewest tries (7) of any team in the competition this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have scored the most (30).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Leicester: Vereniki Goneva
Racing 92: Dan Carter
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait (c), 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Adam Thompstone
Racing: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Johan Goosen, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Khatchik Vartanov, 18 Luc Ducalcon, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Rémi Talès, 23 Louis Dupichot
Date: Sunday, April 24
Venue: The City Ground, Nottingham
Kick-off: 15:15 BST (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)