Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nothing for Leicester to fear – Drinkwater wants Champions League return

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Apr 2017

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Danny Drinkwater wants another crack at the Champions League with Leicester City and insists the club have nothing to fear from Europe’s elite.

Leicester’s stirring run to the quarter-finals came to an end on Tuesday as Atletico Madrid held out for a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 aggregate triumph at a raucous King Power Stadium.

As in their victories on home soil versus against Porto, Copenhagen, Club Brugge and Sevilla, the Foxes provided a reminder of the irresistible qualities and belief that propelled them to the Premier League title last season.

Too often this time around they have fallen short of those levels domestically, with manager Claudio Ranieri sacked as a relegation scrap loomed in February.

A resurgence under Craig Shakespeare has taken in further memorable European nights that Drinkwater thinks have brought the best out of his team-mates.

“We did believe we could win it,” he said. “We weren’t in just to take part. We’re a squad that believes we can do things some people probably didn’t think we’re capable of, but we just keep pushing ourselves on the training field and out on the pitch.        

“I think that goes through the dressing room and through all of the staff.  It’s a tournament and not a league so it’s a win-and-you’re-through situation.”

A return to Europe is off the agenda this season, as Leicester lie 12th – 20 points shy of seventh-placed Everton.

But, with the fog of their muddled title defence clearing, Drinkwater is keen to get Leicester firmly back on track next term.

The 27-year-old added: “Now we’ve had a taste of it, we want more. There’s nothing for us to be scared of.

“Atletico Madrid are a big force in Europe and we pushed them all the way.

“Playing in stadiums like over there in Madrid  – that’s Champions League football. You hear the music and you get a tingle down your spine and a buzz.”

Leicester captain Wes Morgan played for the first time since scoring in the second-leg turnaround against Sevilla in the last-16, playing through the pain of a back problem and grappling manfully with the mercurial Antoine Griezmann.

Like Drinkwater, the centre-back feels a sense of unfinished business and what might have been

“This season has been more downs than ups, but I feel we’ve turned it around and we’re coming good now,” he said.

“If we had shown the same form all season that we’ve shown of late, we could be in a Champions League spot again.

“First of all we need to concentrate on the rest of the season, hopefully finishing on a high note, and then next season we need to dust ourselves off and look forward again.”

Morgan added: “It has been an incredible journey. I’m not sure who thought we could get this far, but we believed in ourselves and we achieved something massive. We’re proud of what we’ve done.”

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