Champions League

Ranieri irked by Leicester's split personality

2016-10-19 12:25
Claudio Ranieri (Getty)

Leicester - Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri urged his side to take their fine European form into the Premier League after they closed on a place in the Champions League last 16.

Riyad Mahrez's goal earned Leicester a 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen on Tuesday, extending their 100 percent record in Group G and leaving them one win away from the knockout phase.

But the English champions are toiling domestically, having lost four and won just two of their first eight fixtures, and Ranieri wants Leicester to get rid of their split personality.

"For one side, I'm very proud. For the other side, when I think of the Premier League, I'm very, very angry," the Italian told reporters at the King Power Stadium.

"But it's OK, because also in my career this has happened. When for the first time you go and play in a big competition, you lose something when you go back in your league.

"You spend a lot of energy, mental energy, in the Champions League. When you come back a little more down, it's normal.

"But we want to change this mood now, because the Premier League is now important. The Premier League is our priority.

"But of course also the Champions League because now, in one month, three matches, we're in or out. We are in a good position. Our destiny is in our hands. We want to continue this way."

Mahrez struck in the 40th minute, volleying home with the outside of his left foot after Jamie Vardy's deep cross from the left had been headed back across goal by Islam Slimani.

It was a performance in keeping with Leicester's 5,000-1 league title success last season, with Copenhagen seeing 54 percent of possession and registering four shots on target to the hosts' two.

But Leicester's 100 percent record was only preserved thanks to a last-minute save by their Copenhagen-born goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who batted away a close-range Andreas Cornelius shot.

Leicester are now assured of at least a place in the Europa League and they can seal a place in the Champions League last 16 if they win the return fixture in Copenhagen on November 2.

"It's good to go in the Europa League. Now we have to go in the Champions League," Ranieri said. "Little step, step by step."

Danish champions Copenhagen had previously gone 23 games without defeat, stretching back to last season, but they remain in second place in the group, five points below Leicester.

"I can live with that," said Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken on the end of his team's unbeaten run.

"We can start counting again. That doesn't bother me, really. The important thing for us now is to get back and focus on the league.

"Leicester come on November 2. Hopefully we can do a similar performance. We have our fans behind us and maybe that can be the difference. We very rarely lose in Parken (Stadium)."

He added: "You can always fear the game in Porto (where Copenhagen drew 1-1) was a one-off in a difficult away game.

"But now we've met the two favourites in the group away and we could have had three points, we could have had zero. They've been very close, both games.

"The players have a good feeling we can beat them in Parken in 14 days. We're still number two in the group.

"I'm very happy Porto beat (Club) Brugge (in the other group game) because for us it's easier to win the UEFA Cup (Europa League) than the Champions League!"

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Fixtures
Tuesday, 02 October 2018
Juventus v Young Boys, Allianz Stadium 18:55
Hoffenheim v Manchester City, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 18:55
Bayern Munchen v Ajax, Allianz-Arena 21:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Shakhtar Donetsk, Groupama OL Academy Decines-Charpieu 21:00
Manchester United v Valencia, Old Trafford 21:00
AEK Athens v Benfica, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 21:00
Roma v Viktoria Plzen, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
CSKA Moskva v Real Madrid, VEB Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 03 October 2018
PSG v Crvena Zvezda, Parc des Princes 18:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Schalke 04, RZD Arena 18:55
Porto v Galatasaray, Estadio Do Dragao 21:00
Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:00
PSV v Internazionale, Philips Stadion 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Napoli v Liverpool, Stadio San Paolo 21:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona, Wembley Stadium 21:00
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
AEK Athens v Bayern Munchen, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 18:55
Young Boys v Valencia, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 18:55
Real Madrid v Viktoria Plzen, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:00
Ajax v Benfica, Johan Cruijff ArenA 21:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:00
Manchester United v Juventus, Old Trafford 21:00
Roma v CSKA Moskva, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
Hoffenheim v Olympique Lyonnais, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Club Brugge v Monaco, Jan Breydelstadion 18:55
PSV v Tottenham Hotspur, Philips Stadion 18:55
Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda, Anfield 21:00
Barcelona v Internazionale, Camp Nou 21:00
PSG v Napoli, Parc des Princes 21:00
Lokomotiv Moskva v Porto, RZD Arena 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Galatasaray v Schalke 04, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 21:00
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Monaco v Club Brugge, Stade Louis II 19:55
Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool, Stadion Rajko Mitic 19:55
Porto v Lokomotiv Moskva, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Internazionale v Barcelona, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Napoli v PSG, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v PSV, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Valencia v Young Boys, Estadio de Mestalla 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Roma, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Manchester United, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v AEK Athens, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid, Doosan Arena 22:00
Benfica v Ajax, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Hoffenheim, Groupama Stadium 22:00
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