Leicester daring to dream again

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri insists the Foxes are ready for another impossible dream as they prepare for their Champions League debut tonight.

Leicester daring to dream again

The Foxes make their bow in the competition when they face Club Brugge at the Jan Breydel Stadium today after last season’s shock Premier League title victory.

They also face Copenhagen and Porto in Group G as Ranieri returns to the competition for the first time since 2012. While the Italian admitted a Champions League victory in Cardiff in June is unlikely, he insisted the Foxes must be able to dream.

“We wrote a fantastic fairytale last season, nobody was waiting for us (to win the league), and also we didn’t believe it could be possible at the start,” he said.

“There are so many big teams involved in this competition and to win the Champions League we have to write a big fairytale, the second story. Of course I say it’s impossible but Leicester showed the impossible was possible.

“Why not? I think our fairytale means not only sport but life. If you believe some good things can happen, it can happen. If you don’t believe, it cannot. I think also Brugge can win the Champions League, also (Russian club) Rostov.

“People can say Leicester can win the group but we have to be calm. The rest have a lot of experience. It’s a new season, we want to write something good, and then slowly, slowly.”

Leicester trained at the Jan Breydel Stadium yesterday but despite his excitement ahead of their campaign, Ranieri, who last managed in the competition when Inter Milan lost to Marseille in the last 16 four years ago, did not want to give supporters false hope.

He said: “For us now it’s important to enjoy the experience, I don’t want to make an illusion for our fans. We know very well this season is totally different. Last season everyone gave 120% and everything was perfect. Maybe this season we have to pay for something. I am happy to pay now because we broke a lot of things last season.”

Captain Wes Morgan was more bullish and insisted, after he lifted the Premier League trophy, he believes anything is possible.

He said: “Why not? No-one thought we could win the Premier League. We know it’s not going to be easy and we proved last season how good we can be. We need to take that into this competition and we want to see how far we can get.”

Brugge are 10th in the Jupiler Pro League league after three defeats from six games while Leicester have lost two of their opening four matches in the Premier League but Ranieri insisted the hosts must be respected.

He said: “Club Brugge are a good team, one of the best in Belgium and are used to playing in Europe. We are the last, Leicester and Rostov are the last. Of course we want to show our best and our desire is to win but we have to stay calm with a lot of respect for everyone.”

Danny Simpson will be assessed after a hamstring injury he suffered in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Liverpool. Jeff Schlupp is a doubt with a muscle strain while Nampalys Mendy is also struggling with an ankle injury he suffered against Arsenal last month.

Islam Slimani is available to make his debut after a £29m (€34m) move from Sporting Lisbon on deadline day and Ranieri must decide on whether to start him or keep faith with Shinji Okazaki.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox