Claudio Ranieri insists he does not regret rotating his Leicester City team, despite going down to a heavy 3-0 defeat at Chelsea.
The Premier League champions only have eight points from as many top-flight matches after goals from Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses saw them soundly beaten at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Leicester, who have now lost four straight away matches in the league, failed to register a shot on target as Riyad Mahrez, Danny Simpson and Islam Slimani were all rested with Tuesday’s Champions League match against Copenhagen in mind.
But Ranieri says that was the right move, given the importance of Europe’s elite club competition to Leicester.
“Yes, of course I would make the same decision because now we have a tough game on Tuesday,” the manager said at his post-match media conference.
“We are against a very well organised team against Copenhagen.
“The Premier League is all year long and the Champions League is two months – in and out. To go into the knockout of the Champions League or the Europa league to achieve this you have to have all your players fit. I prefer to preserve some players for Tuesday night.”
While Ranieri has indicated the Champions League’s greater importance, he does not think a lack of motivation is a valid excuse for Leicester’s players, especially for a big game against Chelsea.
“It could be [the players think the Champions League is more important], but if Chelsea is not an important match, you have to close the bar at the pub,” he said.
“The first half wasn’t good. We conceded two strange goals. He was alone, Costa was alone. It is not easy to leave him.
“It is unbelievable what has happened this season, but we have to react. It is a different Leicester and we have to understand why.
“When you are playing in the Champions League your concentration is very, very high. When you are playing in the Premier League then it is not that high. Too many times we are conceding goals from set plays this season.
“What can I do now? We can only do more, more, more work [to solve this].”