Leicester begin their European adventure against Brugge this coming Wednesday evening.
The fairy-tale story that is Leicester City will finally reach full fruition this week with the Foxes lining up against the elite of European football. They couldn’t have really hoped for a better draw than F.C Kobenhaven, Brugge and Porto. The Portuguese side are likely to dominate the group, making matches like these critical to a chance of progression. Club Brugge are the reigning Belgian champions and have yet to taste defeat on home soil this season. They have a dubious record in Europe’s elite club competition - yet to taste qualification for the second round in five attempts. Leicester will be hoping to continue that trend and give their season some much-needed impetus.
Club Brugge v Leicester City | Wednesday 14 September | Jan Breydel Stadium | 20:45
To Win (90 Mins)
Club Brugge 2/1 | Draw 22/10 | Leicester 14/10
The fourteen times champions of Belgium are a formidable home unit. They also happen to have a surprisingly good record against English opposition. They have won six out of ten games in Europe. Their last experiences, however, were two comprehensive defeats to Manchester United. Brugge will look to dominate possession and utilise their playmakers. Simons and Vormer will likely hold the fort in midfield - no doubt weary of the brisk counterattack that has become synonymous with the Foxes.
I expect Jose Izquierdo may come in for Gedoz. Brugge were disappointing in their 1-0 defeat to Wasseland-Beuren at the weekend. here is bound to be a shake-up in their line-up. Also look out for young central defender Bjorn Engels. The Belgian has scored an impressive ten times in fifty appearances for the Blue-Blacks. They will be without Israeli winger Refaelou - out till November - as well as Felipe Gomez though an ankle injury. They know that their form at the Jan Breydel Stadium will greatly determine their chances of progression. And they are up against a team engineered for away performances.
Claudio Ranieri will know it’s unlikely that his side will match his Chelsea side’s efforts in 2005-2006. The Blues reached the semi-finals that year, Ranieri’s best showing in the Cup thus far. They will be without ostensible Kante replacement Mendy for this encounter. Amartey has had an indifferent start to his time at the Foxes while Slimani will surely get a chance to start. The Algerian flyer will relish the opportunity to launch quick breakaways with Vardy. Okazaki may start on the bench alongside Musa.
I wonder if Ranieri may be tempted to play with the Morgan-Huth combination that has been so watertight thus far. They were exposed against a rampant Liverpool side, and the added vagaries of European football will put pressure on a centre-half combination that is hardly the youngest. Kaputska will no doubt be keen to take any opportunity afforded.
Leicester will no doubt feel strangely comfortable on the road in their first European match. They will sit back and wait for any opportunity that comes their way. While Brugge are not the most dynamic of sides, they have some useful midfield players who can keep possession.
Verdict: Both Teams to Score -Yes 8/10This could be quite a quiet cracker. The scenario suits Leicester perfectly and Ranieri will be desperate for some momentum. They have also conceded seven goals in four games, leading me to believe that Brugge have a chance of breaching the Leicester defence. And I’m sure that the Foxes will be able to find the scoresheet with their pace and power up front.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets