Category: Leicester City

Leicester City’s Successful European Debut

 Leicester City, the unlikely champions of England last season, have continued their fairytale by marking a Champions League debut with three convincing group stage wins. They share a group with Belgian champions Club Brugge KV, Danish champions FC København, and FC Porto who finished 3rd in Portugal. Having begun by grabbing a 3-0 victory away in Bruges, two 1-0 home victories followed against Porto and København, the latter during the week.

The opening win away in Bruges, possibly the most convincing of the three, saw an early goal from Marc Albrighton coupled by two from Riyad Mahrez either side of half time. Leicester came into the match following at 4-1 defeat away at Liverpool. Manager Claudio Ranieri commented on the early Champions League goal, which “gave us more confidence.” Ranieri hailed the match to be “an important win after the Liverpool defeat.” Leicester impressed in defence that evening with Club Brugge managing just three shots on goal, none of which beat keeper Kasper Schmeichel. It was this first match in September that set the stage for a fiery Leicester City side, ready to show Europe that they were up to the challenge of the prestigious competition.

Leicester City headed back to the East Midlands to host FC Porto, an experienced side with many years under the belt in European competition. Expected by many to top the group, Porto’s own campaign this season began with a draw at home to København. Islam Slimani, the club record summer signing for Leicester from Sporting CP, was the eventual scorer of the decisive goal in the clash between these two sides. He earned the nickname of “Dragon Slayer” during his time in Portugal, a testament to his strong performances against Porto (known colloquially in Portugal as the Dragons). Slimani did not disappoint in maintaining his nemesis value for a new club, finding the net from a cross by Mahrez past keeper Iker Casillas. Jesús Corona, Porto’s young Mexican winger, hit the post in the dying minutes but the Foxes were able to hold on to all three points.

During the week at the King Power Stadium, Leicester hosted FC København. They had impressed in their second match by thumping four goals past Club Brugge. The Danish champions were in fine form, unbeaten in 23 matches before the Tuesday night clash. A nervy start to the first half saw Leicester go 1-0 up, with Slimani this time assisting for a back-heeled Mahrez finish. Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel denied former Cardiff City striker Andreas Cornelius an equalizer just minutes after. Jamie Vardy, although goalless in his last eight games, put in a real shift. His work rate paid off and culminated in a cross to Slimani for the winning goal. Schmeichel denied Cornelius again in the dying minutes, keeping a third European clean sheet.

As the referee blew the whistle for full time at the King Power, Leicester had achieved what so many believed they could not. Nine points in three Champions League fixtures, and three clean sheets. The Foxes are on absolute fire in Europe.

Leicester travel to Denmark for the reverse fixture on November 2nd, arguably one of the toughest matches they have scheduled in their group. Qualification from the group seems almost inevitable, as the Foxes look to make their debut European campaign one to remember. Will they continue their soaring form, or will lacklustre performances in the Premier League begin to reflect in Europe?

Jeremy Pepino
jpepino@umass.edu

Premier League Preview: Manchester United v Leicester City

We preview the early fixture and game of the round on Premier League Matchday 6 as Manchester United host Leicester.

Form:
Off the back of a horrid run of three consecutive defeats, including two in the league, Manchester United ended their losing streak with a comfortable (if at times unconvincing) 3-1 over Nottingham Forest.
League Form: W, W, W, L, L. (7th position in League)

After a slow start, Leicester have bounced back to somewhere near the form that brought them ultimate success last term. An inaugural Champions League win followed a belting of Burnley, before being overrun by Chelsea in the League Cup. Nonetheless, they are certainly playing much better football than their opponents leading in to this clash.
League Form: L, D, W, L, W. (11th position in League)

Line-Ups:
Will Rooney and Rashford both start for United? There weren’t too many stand outs amongst the squad players (apart from Rashford when coming on) in the win over Nottingham so Rooney may get a reprieve. We expect Luke Shaw to get another chance at left full back, but cannot be so sure about Anthony Martial with Henrik Mkhitaryan returning from injury. Will Mourinho ring the changes or stick with the tried and tested? We’re plumping for somewhere in between, with Rooney our for Rashford sure to be the main talking point.

Manchester United: De Gea, Shaw, Smalling, Bailly, Valencia, Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Fellaini, Rashford, Rooney, Ibrahimovic.

Shine Okazaki’s two goals against Chelsea keeps him firmly in the frame to start for Claudio Ranieri’s Champions. But with Islam Sliming also coming in for his own brace last weekend against Burnley, the manager suddenly has great depth up front. Kasper Schmeichel should also return in goal, with Danny Simpson likely holding his place at right back over Luis Hernandez.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Fuchs, Huth, Morgan, Simpson, Albrighton, Drinkwater, Amartey, Mahrez, Slimani, Vardy.

The Match:
The fast, flowing football that Jose Mourinho promised of his side in the early weeks seems to have dissipated in recent times. They cannot afford to rely solely on Ibrahimovic and Rashford for inspiration, and need a strong showing all across the pitch to take anything away from this game.

Leicester’s counter attacking approach has the potential to be devastating, especially if United’s ball movement remains slow and indirect. If they can get the ball over the back with Vardy and Slimani running on, it could be a matter of how far Leicester.

Mourinho however has had ample time to study Ranieri’s methods and will no doubt back himself and his team to overcome the challenge. An intriguing battle of contrasting styles beckons.

Prediction:
Both of these sides appear able to either scoring and/or conceding for fun in recent weeks, so we’re unlikely to see a goalless draw. Playing at Old Trafford, United are strong favourites with the bookies. But we all know that means nothing to the Foxes, and they will back themselves to at least come away with an invaluable point.

Daily Football Blog Prediction: Manchester United 2 – 2 Leicester City

Close

Follow Us for Football Updates!