– Leicester eye Champions League’s knockout stage.
– Despite their consistent lost, they hope to get to the Champions League.
They may be slipping into a relegation battle in the Premier League, but Leicester City can create another piece of club history in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter with Club Brugge.
Three points clear atop Group G and still to concede a goal, Leicester will be assured of a knockout-round spot if they avoid defeat against Brugge or FC Copenhagen fail to win at home to Porto.
Leicester have taken to their first Champions League experience like seasoned campaigners and for manager Claudio Ranieri it is a sign that the fire from last season’s extraordinary title win remains aflame.
“Now there is the opportunity to go to the top of the group. It would be a fantastic achievement,” he told Monday’s pre-match press conference at the King Power Stadium.
“I remember from the beginning, I said for us it was important to go into the knockout phase, of the Europe League or Champions League.
“Our fairytale continues in this way. We did something special last season and this season we are doing something special.
“For the first time in our lives we are playing in the Champions League.”
Leicester lost 2-1 at Watford in the Premier League on Saturday — their sixth defeat of the campaign — and currently sit just two points above the relegation zone in 14th place.
Jamie Vardy has gone 13 games without a goal and Riyad Mahrez has found the net just twice in the league, both times from the penalty spot.
But though their league title defence was effectively over before it had even begun, it has not prevented them from making a mark in Europe, where they have found their old underdog attire still fits.
Their first three group games were all preceded by heavy league defeats, but each time Leicester bounced back to win.
They crushed Brugge 3-0 and secured gritty 1-0 home wins over Porto and Copenhagen before grinding out the goalless draw in Copenhagen that took them to the brink of the last 16.