Leicester City shocked the world last season by going all the way to win the Premier League title against all the odds. Champions League football is the big reward for Claudio Ranieri’s boys’ brilliant work last season. They had an underwhelming start to the season but will be keen to show Europe that they mean business. The Premier League holders will travel to Jan Breydel tonight to kick off their first ever Champions League campaign with a tricky away tie against Belgian Pro League holders Club Brugge.
Club Brugge, just like Leicester City, have had a dismal start to their domestic season after winning the domestic silverware last term. Michel Preud’homme’s boys have managed to get just seven points from six games this season and are sitting 10th on the table, six points behind league leaders SV Zulte Waregem. Leicester City are on the back of a heavy 4-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool on Saturday but will be hopeful that they can come back from Belgium will all three points.
Claudio Ranieri’s poor record in the Premier club competition of Europe will be concerning for the Foxes, though. The experienced Italian gaffer has managed clubs like Inter Milan, Roma, Juventus, Valencia and Chelsea over the years in the Champions League but has won just 18 out of 40 games losing 11 times and drawing 11 games.
Jose Izquierdo is fit for the game after a quad strain. Wesley remains out with an ankle ligament injury while Lior Refaelov is still recovering from a groin surgery.
Danny Simpson travelled with the squad to Belgium but remains doubtful for the game after hobbling off before half-time against Liverpool on Saturday. Club record signing Islam Slimani is in line to make his debut for the Premier League holders.
Predicted lineups and tactical setups
The Belgian Pro League holders are likely to start in a 4-5-1 formation. Ludovic Butelle will start between the sticks behind the back four of van Rhijn, Poulain, Denswil and Bolingoli-Mbombo. Skipper Simons, Claudemir and Vanaken will line up as the midfield trio. Ruud Vormer and Jose Izquierdo are likely to start on the flanks while 25-year-old fleet-footed striker Abdoulaye Diaby is likely to spearhead the attack.
Starting XI: Butelle; van Rhijn, Poulain, Denswil, Bolingoli-Mbombo; Vormer, Simons, Claudemir, Vanaken, Izquierdo; Diaby
Claudio Ranieri is likely to stick to his favoured 4-4-2 formation. Kasper Schmeichel will start between the sticks behind the back four of Hernandez, Huth, Morgan and Fuchs. Danny Drinkwater and Daniel Amartey are likely to pair up in midfield while Riyad Mahrez and Ahmed Musa are likely to start on the flanks. Jamie Vardy will start up front for the Foxes and could pair up with club record signing Islam Slimani for the first time.
Starting XI: Schmeichel; Hernandez, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Amartey, Musa; Vardy, Slimani