Analysing Riyad Mahrez's match-winning performance in Europe against Copenhagen
Leicester have surged ahead in their Champions League group after an assured victory over Copenhagen at home. They have won all three of their matches in the competition to date and have yet to concede a goal. It is concerning that they have looked so much better in the Champions League and supporters will be hoping that their European form transfers to the Premier League sooner rather than later. One player who has yet to find his feet in the league, but is scoring in the Champions League is Riyad Mahrez. Although the Algerian’s Jekyll and Hyde form is a concern, he scored the crucial goal on Tuesday night and he needs to be applauded for that.
The Algerian looks a lot more motivated in the Champions League and it is difficult to see a long term future for him at Leicester. His ambitions lie higher than Leicester and his performances in the Champions League to date show that he can influence matches at the highest level. The real test will come later in the competition when Leicester are likely to meet an illustrious European club and it will be interesting to see if Mahrez can still impress.
Against Copenhagen, Mahrez scored the winning goal, displaying his clever movement and desire to have a telling impact on the game. It was his third goal of the competition, while he also has one assist. He has played a part in all but one of the Foxes’ goals in Europe, highlighting how important he is for Leicester in this competition. During the match, he attempted three shots and was central to everything good that his side were doing in the final third.
His dribbling ability impressed once again, as he finished the match with four completed dribbles. Although he attempted a further three dribbles that weren’t successful, Mahrez was a constant threat and the Danish club’s defence never looked comfortable against him. It can be said that the Algerian was a tough selfish at times and tried to do too much when he had the ball. This could be his attempt to put his individual aims above the team and if this is the case, it will be a concern for Claudio Ranieri. Last season, the side’s success was a result of the impressive team spirit and that needs to be maintained this year.
Despite Mahrez’s selfishness in possession, he did do his bit when the away side had the ball, as he made two successful tackles. This suggests that he is still working hard for the team and that his selfishness in possession could be due to instructions from his manager. Ranieri knows that Mahrez possesses an x-factor that nobody else in the Leicester squad has and the Italian may have planned to attack through the right winger. Only one player on the pitch (Danny Drinkwater) completed more tackles than Mahrez and the Algerian deserves credit for that.
Ranieri rested several key players, including Mahrez, against Chelsea ahead of this fixture and it is a decision that paid off. The Italian recognises that this could be his final time in the Champions League as a manager and he is attacking the competition. Mahrez is central to the Foxes’ chances of success in this competition and his form during the first three matches shows that he is ready to take on the challenge of leading the side to the knockout stages. The winger has yet to show this form in the Premier League and that will be his next challenge. He is probably too good for Leicester, but he needs to earn a move and consistency is required if he wants to move to a bigger European club.
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