What Leicester City achieved last season was a miracle. We are used to underdogs unexpectedly winning tournaments – just look at Wigan Athletic winning the FA Cup in 2013 – but to win the toughest league in the world after struggling the previous season transcends all previous upsets.
After conquering the Premier League, Leicester have set their sights on the most prestigious tournament in club football, the Champions League, and every indication shows that they might pull off another miraculous upset.
Leicester City qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League after beating Club Brugge 2-1. The Foxes were one goal up within five minutes after Shinji Okazaki scored at the near post. Riyad Mahrez doubled Leicester’s lead in the 29th minute with his fourth goal in the Champions League. Club Brugge pulled a goal back in the second half, but were unable to force a draw. The victory ensures that Leicester City finished top of the group ahead of 2004 Champions League winners FC Porto.
The unexpected win has got many pundits and fans contemplating whether Leicester City could pull off another massive upset. Despite winning the Premier League last season, Betfair, who cover all European football games cautioned fans that while Leicester have a chance in Europe, they shouldn’t expect fireworks, according to the website’s Champions League correspondent Jack Lang. However, as they continue to grind out results the Foxes are causing football fans and bookies to question themselves.
If Leicester City are to stand a good chance of continuing to progress through the tournament then they need some luck in the next draw. Newsweek reports that they could potentially face either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, who both stand to finish second in their respective groups. The Foxes have already beaten one previous Champions League winner in the group stages but will be hoping to avoid the other champions until further into the tournament. Newsweek speculates that Napoli would be the ideal draw to cause an upset and progress to the quarterfinals.
While Leicester City are creating headlines in the Champions League, they are failing to repeat their successes last season in league football. The team has struggled in this season’s Premier League and remain in the bottom half of the table. Speaking to the Guardian, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has been quick to state that the team must transfer their Champions League form to the Premiership. He told the newspaper, “In the Premier League, we are very close to the relegation zone and we must play at the same level as the Champions League because when we want to do something, we achieve something.”
The poor run of games has coincided with a dip in form for Jamie Vardy. Their star player has struggled to score with only two goals to his name compared to the 13 he had scored at the same time last season. This goal drought has also extended to training, according to Claudio Ranieri.
There is every reason to believe that Leicester City will pull off another huge surprise in the Champions League. Their toughest test however will be to recapture their form in the Premier League and show that it wasn’t just a one off miracle.