Should Claudio Ranieri focus his attention on making Champions League history?
Following Leicester City’s historic achievements in lifting the Premier League title for the first time last season, the club has been urged by supporters to continue its’ desire into the present Champions League campaign.
After what proved to be a mesmerising regime for the neutral, the Foxes have found a spot in many fans’ hearts as a home-grown club to support in Europe – especially when battling against the likes of world class talents in Barcelona.
Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League fairy-tale began when the club were seeded in the competition’s Group G alongside two arguably fringe sides in Club Brugge and Kobenhavn – although previous Portuguese winners Porto did pose a formidable threat to the group.
Succeeding their somewhat inconsistent entrance to the 2016/17 Premier League campaign – and a denting 4-1 defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at their Anfield fortress on 10th September – the Foxes got off to a flying start with a 3-0 rout at the home of Club Brugge in Belgium.
The fixture saw the Premier League’s PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, star in similar fashion to his performances during their magnificent title-winning regime, with a superb strike from distance alongside a calmly-converted penalty.
Their next Champions League fixture ended with a similar outcome, and another clean sheet for in-form Kasper Schmeichel. A hard-earned 1-0 victory over a high-intensity Porto side at the King Power Stadium saw Claudio Ranieri’s men top the group table with a now precious four points.
The Foxes last two Champions League fixtures thus far in the competition have followed tough Premier League battles against London-based title contenders in Antonio Conte’s well-structured Chelsea side and Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing squad – where they claimed only one point from two games.
However, the current mid-table side have shown proven their team spirit in producing defensively-convincing performances within their respected home and away fixtures against Stale Solbakken’s resilient Kobenhavn players.
Their 1-0 home triumph at the King Power in October, on top of their goalless draw during their away fixture in Denmark earlier this week, has strengthened their position at the top of the Group G table – and on the brink of a Round of 16 qualification.
A reduced three-point margin between the English title-winners and their closest group rivals Porto enthuses more importance on the sides next home fixture against Club Brugge. The tie is penned in for 22nd November, following another must-win league clash with Watford.
With only three wins from ten Premier League games so far this season, and a bitter home defeat to Claudio Ranieri’s predecessors Chelsea in the league cup third round, the Foxes’ hopes for more silverware most definitely now lie within the UEFA Champions League.
And although the clubs’ star players Jamie Vardy – who is yet to score in his previous 12 appearances – and Riyad Mahrez, were criticised for their lacklustre attacking performances in their second tie against Club Brugge, their irrepressible defence would seem to boost their competition chances.
Whether pundits slash Leicester City’s odds of progressing or even challenging other teams for the competition trophy following their slight recent dip in form, there is no writing off a club with the desire of the Foxes.
Producing a Premier League title win that is likely to go down as the greatest in footballing history, the club’s success story is hugely enviable – urging many fans to plea for Claudio Ranieri to drive his squad on towards Champions League success.
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