Leicester maintained their 100 per cent record in the Champions League with Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Copenhagen and will reach the last 16 with victory in Denmark in two weeks.
It is in contrast to their form in the Premier League and the defending champions have more points in Europe, nine, than they do in the league, eight. Here, Nick Mashiter looks at the possible reasons why.
THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE
The Foxes, Champions League debutants, are relative unknowns to the European elite and can continue playing the counter-attacking style which brought them the title last season.
While they would have been scouted and Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater would have all been identified as threats their rivals would not have faced them week in, week out in the Premier League and they can still shine.
The new journey of the Champions League naturally leaves players refreshed following their Premier League struggles with only a handful of the squad having experienced it before.
Christian Fuchs, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Ron-Robert Zieler and Ahmed Musa have all have varying degrees of experience and the rest are revelling in the adventure. A team meeting, held after Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Chelsea, also allowed the squad to clear the air and resolve any issues before facing Copenhagen.
A TRICKY LEAGUE START
Leicester have lost four league games this season - one more than they did in the whole of last term - but have gone to three of the rejuvenated big guns.
A home draw with Arsenal was followed by heavy defeats at Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea in their opening eight fixtures. It was a tough start but would have been remarkable to see them maintain their form of last season, which is increasingly looking like a one-off.
A HANDY GROUP
Once the draw was made there was a real sense the Foxes could qualify having been one of the top seeds and avoided any tricky looking ties to Monaco or Rubin Kazan.
Club Brugge were in disarray in the first game, Porto are not the force they once were and while Copenhagen were on a 23-match unbeaten run before they arrived in Leicester, the Danish champions are still not one of Europe’s big hitters.
IT IS JUST LEICESTER
Nothing should surprise at the King Power Stadium after the rollercoaster ride of the last 18 months. Having avoided relegation in 2015, changed managers and then won the league in 2016 at odds of 5,000 to one, it has been the stuff of dreams.
Ranieri admitted he was angry at his side failing to transfer their European form to the Premier League but reasoned that “it’s unbelievable, it’s Leicester.” It is hard to argue with his tongue-in-cheek perception given what has happened to the club.