Quick-fire Foxes can find their feet in Europe
Ranieri’s men free of pressure for Champions League debut
How Foxes can flourish in Europe
I t has been a rude awakening for Claudio Ranieri and his Leicester City heroes this season. Four games in and the Foxes have won just once in the Premier League and were played off the park by a rampant Liverpool at the weekend.
Yet there is still a sense of jubilation across the whole city after Leicester’s incredible title triumph. And now they have the chance to compete in Europe’s elite competition, something that would have seemed inconceivable just 18 months ago. Leicester kick off their Champions League campaign tonight in what appears a generous fixture. Club Brugge won just one game in the Europa League last season and have not been in the Champions League for a decade. There is also little expectation on Leicester, who proved last year that a lack of possession does not hinder them. Instead their ability to quickly get the ball forward to Jamie Vardy and Riyadh Mahrez proved crucial to their chances. Ranieri also expects a reaction after the thumping defeat at Anfield, saying: “We have to react. Last season when we lost we always had a good reaction.
“I think it will be much easier, because now their mental energy will return much quicker because everyone wants to play in the Champions League in Bruges.”
Influential midfielder Danny Drinkwater echoed his manager’s thoughts.
“The last time we were well beaten (a 5-2 home defeat by Arsenal 12 months ago), we responded by going on a great run,” said the England midfielder.
“We have a good team spirit here and it helps in moments like this.
“The quicker we can get over this the better. We have a Champions League game to look forward to, we will wipe the slate clean.”
There is also a statistic that the Leicester management team will undoubtedly have taken note of and taken heart from.
In last season’s Champions League the average number of passes needed to score a goal was just 3.74, while the teams needed an average of 11.51 seconds’ possession to find the net.
So many times last season Leicester were at their best when attacking with pace and precision. If they can do that against Brugge, it may be a European tie to remember.
POINTING THE WAY: Getting the ball over the top of defences and exploiting Jamie Vardy’s pace will be crucial for Leicester
KEY MAN: Riyad Mahrez is the man to make the Foxes tick. Below left: Vardy and Claudio Ranieri will need to be on the same page. Below right: Timmy Simons will be hoping to inspire FC Brugge