Quick-fire Foxes can find their feet in Europe

Ranieri’s men free of pres­sure for Cham­pi­ons League de­but

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Adrian Back @aidy­back adrian@7days.ae

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

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