Champions League not a distraction, says Claudio Ranieri

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has dismissed suggestions the Foxes have been distracted by the Champions League.

The struggling Premier League champions will reach the last 16 with a draw against Club Brugge tonight and only have to better Porto’s result against Copenhagen to win Group G.

While Ranieri’s men are unbeaten in Europe this season and are yet to concede a goal, but their league title defence is in tatters.

Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Watford left Leicester two points above the relegation zone and they have lost twice as many games, six, as they did during last season’s shock triumph.

Leicester are top of Group G, three points clear of Porto, but have only won three league games this season — failing to win before any European game — yet Ranieri said they remain focused on both fronts.

He said: “No, I don’t think it’s a distraction. It’s enjoyment. I don’t see the difference. If you see the match against Watford and the match against Copenhagen or Brugge or Porto, it’s the same. The difference is in the Champions League matches we score, in the other matches no.

“We achieved the third position (in the group) but of course now we want to achieve something more. Our fairytale is continuing, we did something special last season and we’re doing it again this season,” said the italian.

Exactly a year ago Jamie Vardy equalled the Premier League goalscoring record by netting in his 10th straight game, a 3-0 win at Newcastle.

A week later he broke it against Manchester United but is now without a goal in his last 13 Leicester games. The 29-year-old scored in England’s 2-2 draw with Spain last week but has not had a shot on target for his club since September.

Riyad Mahrez is also struggling to find top form but does have three goals and one assist in Europe having scored twice in September’s 3-0 win in Belgium.

Kasper Schmeichel remains sidelined with the hand he fractured in the 0-0 draw in Copenhagen this month and Slimani is out with a groin injury while Nampalys Mendy and Ben Chilwell (both ankle) are also sidelined.

Meanwhile the FA is examining footage of Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater appearing to elbow Watford’s Valon Behrami at Vicarage Road on Saturday.


Dónal Clancy is a musician from An Rinn in Co Waterford. He will perform the music of his late father, Liam Clancy, in a special online solo performance on Thursday at 7pm as part of this year's Clonmel Junction Festival.Question of Taste: Dónal Clancy

BETWEEN 1973 and early 1975, John Lennon split with Yoko Ono, took up with his assistant May Pang and embarked on a period of intense creativity and outrageous behaviour. Lennon later described this time as his “lost weekend”.Rufus Wainwright has returned a new man

Stan O’Sullivan tells Ellie O’Byrne about the genre-busting album from 2007 that probably doesn’t get the recognition it deservesB-Side the Leeside - Cork’s Greatest Records: Louder & Clearer from Stanley Super 800

In recent times one of the most recurring and troubling conversations I have with teenagers, in therapy, is around their use of marijuana. Often parents seek out therapy because they have noticed a dramatic shift in their child’s behaviour.Richard Hogan: Beware of making light of your teen's marijuana use

More From The Irish Examiner