By Adebayo Williams
Leicester City coach Claudio Ranieri has sprang to the defence of his Foxes’ dismal Premier League form. The italian tactician, saying he saw the decline coming, said the Premier League champions are reacting to the stress of playing in the UEFA Champions League.
“At the beginning of the season I said it’s normal when the team loses something when you play in Europe for the first time,” Ranieri said.
“They [the players] are human, they are not machines.”
The former Chelsea boss was also quick to defend his star striker Jamie Vardy, who has experienced a dip in goalscoring form this season. The Englishman fired blanks in the Foxes’ match at Stamford Bridge over the weekend and the Italian tactician believes his tactics, rather than the player’s own performance was responsible for the player’s inability to score. He expressed optimism that the 28-year-old, who became a target for Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger in the summer, will start firing from all cylinders soon enough.
“I think the ex‑player can say everything.
“Shearer was a fantastic goalscorer, but he knows there are months when you can and can’t score.
“If he is speaking about the Chelsea match, I spoke with Jamie and said stay with David Luiz, don’t run and don’t press. For me it was important to have a point of reference for my players to try to counter-attack and leave him against David Luiz. That’s what happened, it’s not his fault, it’s my fault maybe.
“Jamie for us is very important. I am very confident in him. For me it’s important he stays calm and keeps going, and sooner or later he will score a goal,” he said.
Leicester face Copenhagen in the Champions League on Tuesday and will be in search of their third victory in as many games. Copenhagen will be no pushovers. Stale Solbakken, who had an unsuccessful six‑month stint in charge of Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 2012-13 season, is Copenhagen’s manager and has presided over a 23-match unbeaten run. The Danish champions are top of their domestic league and sit second in Group G after drawing 1-1 at Porto and thumping Club Brugge 4-0.
In other games, Bayer Leverkusen will trade tackles with Tottenham Hotspur while CSKA Moscow will play Monaco. Real Madrid host Legia Warsaw, Sporting CP face injury-ravaged German club Borussia Dortmund, Club Brugge will test their strength against Porto and Dinamo Zagreb and Lyon will play Sevilla and Juventus respectively.