Monday, 26 September 2016

Leicester face Champions League home bow

Four months on from their astonishing 5,000-1 Premier League triumph, the stardust returns to Leicester City’s King Power Stadium in Tuesday’s first ever Champions League home game against Porto.
Leicester have made a faltering start to their title defence and after Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Manchester United, they have now lost as many league games — three — as in the entirety of last season.

But Claudio Ranieri’s men made a fine start to their maiden Champions League campaign, winning 3-0 at Club Brugge, and Tuesday’s game represents another new chapter in the club’s 132-year history.
“In Bruges it was a surreal feeling –- you walk out on a Champions League carpet, through a Champions League arch,” said winger Marc Albrighton, who scored Leicester’s opener in Belgium.
“It is something we are usually watching on TV and we are stood there all of a sudden and listening to that tune and going out to play in a Champions League game.
“It is surreal, but it makes you want more. It gives you that taste of it.
“We know it will be a fantastic occasion and if we can get off to a good start here at this stadium and build on that, we will put ourselves in a great position to go further in this competition.”
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel sat out Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford with a groin injury, but he is expected to play against Porto after training with the rest of the squad on Monday.
French midfielder Nampalys Mendy, however, remains sidelined with an ankle problem.
Ranieri will draw confidence from the presence in his starting XI of 28 million pounds ($36.3 million, 32.3 million euros) record signing Islam Slimani.
The Algeria striker scored six goals against Porto in six appearances for his former club Sporting Lisbon — including five this year — and was dubbed ‘The Dragon Slayer’ by the Lisbon club’s fans.

– Pereira fit –
Porto, nicknamed ‘The Dragons’, have never won in 16 previous visits to England — drawing two games and losing 14.
But they have missed just three Champions League seasons since the competition was re-branded in 1992 and are two-time European champions, making Ranieri wary of their pedigree.
“We have a lot of respect for Porto,” said the Italian, who reached the Champions League semi-finals with Chelsea in 2004.
“They are a more experienced team in Europe, they’ve played so many Champions League matches and are used to staying at the top of their league.
“In the last 10 years, they won six titles. We respect them a lot, but we’ll try to win.”
Porto are currently third in the Portuguese Liga, three points behind leaders Benfica, following a 3-1 home win over Boavista on Friday.
Porto went out in the Champions League group phase last year and new coach Nuno Espirito Santo made an inauspicious start in this season’s competition with a 1-1 draw at home to 10-man FC Copenhagen.
Porto followed it up with a disappointing 0-0 stalemate at bottom club Tondela in the league, but midfielder Danilo believes victory over Boavista has cleared away the cobwebs.
“There are no doubts that it was important to give a response to the last two slip-ups, one in the Portuguese Liga and one in the Champions League,” he said in comments published on the club website.
“We want to give a good response (against Leicester). We haven’t won yet and we need to recover the two points we lost at home.”
Uruguay right-back Maxi Pereira has been named in Porto’s squad after recovering from the leg injury he sustained in their Champions League play-off victory over Roma in August.
AFP




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