Leicester v Copenhagen: Europe offers Foxes happy distraction
If domestic performances may be falling below expectations, then Leicester City fans can at least take great joy in their exploits so far in their first Champions League campaign. But this week the Foxes face arguably their toughest encounter yet.
The reigning Premier League champions host Danish giants – and European regulars – FC Copenhagen, having won each of their opening two Group G matches to nil.
It’s a situation which is in stark contrast to Leicester’s domestic form.
Having to face Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea in three of your first four away games may have been a cruel blow from the fixture list Gods, but the manner in which Leicester loss all three contests was a surprise to football fans and a concern for Ranieri.
The latest of which – a drab 3-0 loss at Chelsea – means Leicester are the first team to lose the first four away games of their title defence since Blackburn in 1995.
But Jamie Vardy and co are seeing no such struggles in Europe, dishing out a 3-0 defeat to Club Brugge on their debut, before impressively defeating 2004 champions Porto as the King Power played host to continental football for the first time.
It’s little surprise to see Leicester installed as favourites by the bookies at 17/20, knowing that victory would already put them within touching distance of the knockout stages.
But their Danish opponents must be respected at 10/3.
Stale Stolbakken’s men are the only unbeaten side left in the Superliga, an impressive feat considering they are 13 games in.
Eight wins and five draws have seen the capital club open a five-point gap at the top, thanks to a defence which has kept eight clean sheets, conceding just six goals in total.
Furthermore, Copenhagen had to come through three qualifying rounds to reach the Champions League group stages, and they’ve yet to taste defeat.
An opening 1-1 draw at Porto was followed up with a 4-0 hammering of Brugge, and like Leicester, they too know a win would all but keep them in the competition post-Christmas.
Given the strength of the opponents – and Leicester’s ropey defence – the 10/3 on a home win and both teams to score could be a rewarding avenue to pursue.
Ranieri will be hoping that the decision to bench star man Riyad Mahrez on Saturday pays dividends, with the rested Algerian 9/2 to score first.
Copenhagen may not carry the gravitas of a Porto, but they’re in stunning form and a victory over Leicester could threaten to derail the Foxes’ season before October is even over.
Plus, having a bet on the big Champions League game?
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