It is fair to say that Leicester’s incredible season last year is starting to fade in to the fog. This year they sit in 16th with two losses and some will be saying that is where they belong. Their journey from last year is not nearly over though with the Champions League place that they earnt starting tomorrow. While some will say relegation is a priority I think that a positive look at the European football and the excitement over things to come should take precedence.
They face Belgian side Club Brugge whose boss Michael Preude’homme insists that Leicester are a big team. “If Arsenal are here, everyone will want to see Arsenal, but Leicester won against Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea and so on. At this moment it means this team are better than the others.” Leicester have also managed to maintain most of that squad that beat those teams. Vardy, Mahrez and Marc Albrighton among those to pledge their allegiance to Ranieri and the Foxes. New additions have also led to further hope of success in Europe with record signing Islam Slimani ready to start banging in the goals.
They will be hungry to prove that last year was no fluke and with results already below par the pressure will be high again
They were in the news for all the wrong reasons though earlier in the month with the BMW fiasco. If you did not know Leicester City owner and Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha gave 19 BMW i8 (retailing at £100,000) to all the players who had helped them win the league. It was revealed though that some were changing the colours of their cars from the blue that they came in. It could be seen as a sign of out of touch nature the rush of success has brought the players but others say changing the colours will allow them to find it in a car park!
The hunger will be there though as players like Vardy and Mahrez signed big new deals and will be hoping that they don’t waste the opportunities to cement themselves in the Europe. They will be hungry to prove that last year was no fluke and with results already below par the pressure will be high again. Ranieri will also be hungry as he probably thought his days in the competition had come to an end. The Italian has managed 40 times in the Champions League of which he has won 18 lost 11 and drawn 11. The former Tinkerman who has now become a hero in the east midlands will face his toughest test without the players he had at his disposal before at Roma, Chelsea and Inter.
Today is a big day for Leicester and they will be wanting to announce themselves to Europe as they did to England when they face Club Brugge. They will be going in as favourites, but it will be the highest pressured game of their lives and if Leicester are to build the dynasty that they dream and their billionaire owner wants to make sure the money on the cars were worth it then nothing but a win will help alleviate the anxiety.