Premier League champions Leicester may not have made the best start to their title defence, but their Champions League draw has given a major opportunity to make it to the knockout stages of the competition.
Aided by the fact the Foxes were in pot 1, the side from the Midlands were drawn alongside FC Porto, Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen. On paper, none of those teams looks unbeatable.
A new experience for the Foxes
This season’s Champions League adventure will be a new experience for a number of the Foxes players and also obviously the fans. The Foxes title win last season took everybody by surprise, including the players themselves I would imagine.
Playing in Europe’s elite competition was just reward for their amazing achievement last season. The fact that they were English champions meant being in pot 1 of the draw and avoiding all the major European giants.
While European football is a new experience for many at the club, wily old Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri is a seasoned-European football veteran. The veteran Italian boss is astute enough to be able to guide the players through the new experience.
Nothing too daunting in Group G
Out of Leicester’s three group opponents, FC Porto are the most high-profile, having won the European Cup in 1987 and 2004. The Portuguese side also won the Europa League back in 2011.
However, they have been in a slight decline in recent years having spent much of their time in the Europa League, rather than the Champions League.
They may be former winners of the competition, but I doubt many of the Leicester players will be daunted by the prospect of facing the Portuguese side. However they are likely to be the Foxes toughest opponents.
Club Brugge’s record in the Champions League of late is no great, with a quarter-final appearance in the Europa League their biggest achievement in European football in the last decade. The 1978 European Cup runners-up have struggled to even make the group stages of this competition.
Last season the Belgian champions were defeated at the play-off stage by Manchester United and they failed to make it out of their Europa League group, again are not exactly daunting opponents for Ranieri’s side.
FC Copenhagen have played Champions League football in just three of the last ten seasons, having failed to get through the play-offs and ending up in the Europa League.
The Danish side’s biggest achievement in the Champions League came back in 2016 when they made it out of the group stage only to exit at the last 16. Last season the Danish side failed to even make it to the Europa League group stages, losing at the third qualifying stage.
Porto does have some decent European pedigree, but the other two teams are poorer standard Champions League teams and on their day Leicester could easily pick-up points against them.
The one advantage over the Foxes that all three teams have is that they are accustomed to playing in European competition, even if it is more often the Europa League.
Leicester have a chance to make the last-16
How Leicester does in the Champions League depends on how some of the less experienced players adjust to the Champions League. If they take to it like ducks to water then their odds of 1/3 to make it out of the group will be more than justified.
Those odds seem about right considering the make-up of the group. FC Porto are favourites to progress, but all four teams will fancy their chances of making it to the knockout stages of the competition.
The Foxes have not made the best of starts to the season, so their form needs to vastly improve prior to the start of their Champions League campaign. No doubt the experienced Claudio Ranieri will have the team from the Midlands well prepared for the competition.
Everybody connected with the club will be excited about their European adventure and with a bit of luck the Foxes may just make it to the last-16 of the competition at the first time of asking.
Will Leicester make it out of their Champions League group?